Salboni (West Midnapore), June 17: His brother shot right in front of his eyes, the injured young Maoist who police said was “possibly 14” had gone numb with shock.
He broke his silence this morning and also revealed his name — Rameswar Murmu.
The police also confirmed his age. He is 25.
The police today identified all the eight Maoists killed in yesterday’s early-morning encounter at Ranja forest, not far from rebel hotbed Lalgarh.
They have been identified as Arjun, Ram Murmu, Baichung, Laden, Ganesh, Mala, Ganga and Raagho. Rameswar, who survived a bullet that grazed his head, is Ram’s younger brother.
The police said Arjun, who originally comes from Orissa but had been operating in Bengal, appeared to be the commander of the Maoist squad the joint forces surprised after setting out in the dead of night following a specific tip-off.
All of them were between 19 and 27.
Police officials said Rameswar, from Duli like his brother, was basically an errand boy and was being groomed to join the squad. Wounded in the firing, he survived by lying low on the ground.
“He is in trauma after seeing the dead bodies of those he had known at the Maoist camp. He was also terrorised by the continuous firing from 4.30am to 10am,” district police chief Manoj Verma said.
“But the worst was seeing his brother die right in front of his eyes. All this had silenced him through yesterday, from his capture till the time he went to sleep around 10.30pm after medication at the Salboni block primary health centre,” the police superintendent added.
This morning, Rameswar had recovered enough to tell the police his name. He also said his elder brother Ram was among the eight whose bodies the joint forces found at the Maoist camp after the five-and-a-half-hour encounter.
Verma said the police later found an identity card with the name Ram Murmu on one of the bodies. Rameswar was produced in the Midnapore chief judicial magistrate’s court this afternoon and sent to 14 days’ judicial custody.
In Duli, a village of some 35 families, the mood was tense. All the men, except the elderly, had left. “We fear a reprisal because the Maoists think one of the villagers told the police about their whereabouts in Ranja forest,” said a worried Tarini Murmu.
Not a single policeman could be seen in the village today. Yesterday, some 700 were involved in the assault on the Maoist camp.
Maoists killed a farmer in Pidrakuli, a village 8km from Ranja forest, a few hours after the forest encounter.
A group of 10-12 Maoists went to Niranjan Mahato’s house last evening and called him out. They took him to the Midnapore-Lalgarh main road, about 3km from Pirakata, and shot him in the head.
Residents said Niranjan, 60, had no political affiliations. But when the police reached the spot this morning, they found posters saying the “elimination drive of CPM and police spies is continuing and will continue”. (Calcutta Telegraph)