KOLKATA: After maintaining silence for nine years, Maoists in Bengal swung into action in a remote village located in Junglemahal's Jhargram district as the rebels fired at the house of a cooking gas dealer on Friday night forcing him and his wife to jump off the rooftop of their house, police said. The woman suffered a fracture in her leg.
Sources in the state intelligence branch said the Maoists had demanded Rs 2 lakh as levy from the Bidyut Das last month. The rebels threatened Das, a resident of Pocha Pani village in Belpahari, to face consequences if the money was not paid. "It appears the attack was a sequel to the threat," said a police officer.
The attack carried out by the rebel outfit raised eyebrows of security agencies as rebel organisation's activities, which changed the political picture in Junglemahal by ousting the Left front government and paved the way for the ruling Trinamool Congress in the region, surfaced almost after a decade. "It appears, the rebels are trying to regroup in this region and the attack on Das' house is evidence," said a police officer.
The Maoists had been lowing lye in Jungle Mahal since its politburo member and in-charge of Bengal Kishanji was gunned down by security forces in November 2011, five months after the change of guard in the state.
The attack on Das and his wife took place around 9.30 pm when the couple was on the rooftop of their house. "Taking advantage of darkness, the suspects opened fire targetting the couple. Scared of sounds of gunshots, Das' wide Mira jumped off the roof and he suffered the injuries. The attackers fled away before anyone could intercept them," said a police officer.
On July 27, Maoists put up posters on three houses at Pachapani village. Other than Das, a grocery shop owner and a primary school teacher were asked to pay levy within July 29 by the squad led by fugitive rebel leader Madan Mahato.
Sources in the intelligence branch said there was information that footsoldiers of the rebel outfit, who were on the run since Kishanji was gunned down, were camping in forests in Bengal's adjoining East Singhbhum district in Jharkhand and visiting Belpahari region since past few months.
The Maoists' presence in Junglemahal played a crucial role in changing the region's political colour ahead of the 2011 Assembly elections. No political party was allowed to carry out pre-poll campaign in these areas and a large section of electorates shifted their loyalty to the ruling Trinamool Congress overthrowing the Left Front government