Monday, June 21, 2010

Maoists ‘disown’ foot soldier

PRONAB MONDAL/ The Telegraph

Bapi Mahato had been denied shelter by Maoist leaders unhappy with him for having led the train sabotage keeping them in the dark, sources in the Intelligence Bureau said today.

The backlash following the death of 150 Jnaneswari Exp-ress passengers is believed to have prompted the Maoist brass to turn their backs on Bapi when he was desperately seeking refuge.

Immediately after the May 28 train tragedy, a group from the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army had sought an explanation from Bapi and his men, all members of a so-called village defence squad.

The Maoists are known to have trained villagers in the use of arms and set up such squads across the region. But some of their leaders, like Bapi, 22, are now proving difficult to control.

The Maoists took Bapi to Jharkhand on May 31 to seek an explanation why he had targeted the tracks on which a passenger train was scheduled to pass.

“He failed to explain himself. His act caused massive damage to the image of our organisation. We never target people who are not our class enemy,” a Maoist source said.

The families of cops slain by the Maoists and the many villagers branded “police informers” and killed would scoff at the claim, but so “massive” was the damage caused by the 150 deaths that the guerrillas treated Bapi like hot potato.

Rebuffed by his leaders, Bapi returned to his village, Rasua, about 6km from the crash site, and realised he could not stay there. The police had already been to the place several times.

For a week after that, Bapi went searching for shelter into villages deep inside the forests, but was turned away under instructions from Maoist leaders. With nowhere to go among his comrades, Bapi apparently decided to tap his relatives.

A police source said calls from “unknown sources” first alerted them about his movements. It is possible that some of those who had denied him shelter under instructions from Maoists may have turned him in. “We suddenly received calls from unknown sources who told us he was wandering from village to village on his own. Our own intelligence confirmed that the local Maoists were not with him any more,” said the officer.

Most of the calls were ap- parently made from booths at Manikpara, near crash site Rajabandh. “The callers contacted us with surprising information,” said another officer.

“We started gathering information about Bapi’s friends and relatives. We carried out searches in a number of places and they proved futile. Then we came to know about his relative near Jamshedpur,” the officer said.

Asked whether Bapi was protected by the Maoists when he was on the run, Jhargram superintendent of police Praveen Tripathi said this evening: “The police are investigating it.”

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