Midnapore, Nov. 21: A CPM supporter was beheaded near Lalgarh in the first such act by suspected Maoists in Bengal while two local party leaders were killed in a neighbouring pocket in separate incidents since last night.
The bullet-riddled body of Ganesh Ahir was found on a road near Binpur’s Paluidanga, around 6km from his home in Lalgarh’s Rasikpur from where he had been dragged away. The severed head had been placed on the right hand, police said.
The rebels appeared to have picked Rasikpur carefully. The Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) is not strong there, with the villagers having made it clear that they are poor and cannot afford to turn up at the outfit’s rallies and meetings.
The village is in one of the pockets where the CPM has organised marches since the party’s recapture of Lalgarh town last month.
West Midnapore police chief Manoj Verma confirmed that it was the first beheading by Maoists in Bengal and put it down to frustration at the joint forces’ intensified offensive.
“The Maoists have not beheaded any victim before. But Ganesh was brutally killed and beheaded. The Maoists are trying to prove their existence which has been threatened by sustained raids by the joint forces and rejection by the people.”
The murder came as a chilling reminder of the manner in which Jharkhand inspector Francis Induwar was abducted and beheaded in October last year. Like Ganesh, his decapitated body was dumped along a road.
Ganesh’s neighbour Manoranjan Mahato (name changed) said the farm labourer was a widower and lived with his son and two daughters.
“A little before midnight, around 20 people with guns slung across their shoulders came to Ganesh’s house. Ganesh initially refused to open the door but relented after they threatened to kill his children along with him if he did not come out. Then, they took him away,” said Manoranjan.”
Mohammad Khaliluddin, a member of the CPM local committee in Rasikpur, said Ganesh’s family had long been supporters of the party.
“Ganesh’s nephew Madhu is a member of the branch committee of the party but he stays away from home because of rebel threats. In Rasikpur, the PCPA was never very strong. The Maoists killed Ganesh so brutally because they want to create panic,” said Khaliluddin.
In the other incident, which occurred this afternoon in Salboni, Rahim Patar and Pashupati Singh were waylaid and shot by suspected rebels while they were travelling on a bike to the local panchayat samiti office for work related to the revision of electoral rolls.
Rahim, 32, was a member of the CPM’s zonal committee in Salboni and a functionary of the panchayat samiti. Pashupati, 55, was a local committee member of the CPM and chief of the Garmal panchayat in Salboni.
They were riding along a forested stretch. Around 2pm, when they reached a spot between Kharikashuli and Godamouli, four youths armed with automatic weapons suddenly emerged from the forest.
“When the two leaders saw the youths blocking their path, they slowed down. The youths opened fire and the leaders fell on the ground with their motorcycle. Two more party workers had been following them on another bike. They turned around and fled,” said Meghnad Bhuniya, a district committee member of the CPM.
Police chief Verma said: “We have come to know about the murders of the two CPM leaders. A joint forces team has rushed to the spot.”