Maoists kill two police officials, abduct one in Bengal

Kolkata, October 20: Armed Maoists rebels killed two police officers and abducted another in a daring daylight raid on a police station in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district on Tuesday, officials said.

The rebels also looted money from a nearby Keshiapara branch of the State Bank of India and left posters demanding the release of a jailed Maoist leader.

The looted cash amounted to around Rs.1 million. SBI branch manager Bairagi Charan Naik said the operation was led by a woman who had firearms in both hands. “She was speaking fluent English, Bengali and Hindi,” he said.

A group of around 50 Left-wing rebels attacked the Sankrail police station under Jhargram sub-division and shot dead sub-inspector Dibakar Bhattacharya.

They also fatally shot assistant sub-inspector Swapan Roy before abducting the officer-in-charge Atindranath Dutta, state Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty told newspersons at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings after a high-level meeting convened by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Owning up responsibility for the raid, Koteswar Rao alias Kishanjee, a top leader of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), issued a threat to kill any senior police officer of the rank of director general or inspector general if they ventured into the area.

“Yes, we conducted the raid. We killed the police officer and abducted the OC. And if the director general or any inspector general rank police officer goes there to free the OC, we will shoot them dead also,” Kishanjee warned.

Inspector General of Police (Western Range) Kuldeep Singh confirmed the rebels’ raid.

According to police sources, the staff at the police station were heavily outnumbered in the assault and many fled.

At the nearby Keshiapara, motorcycle-borne Maoists decamped after looting money from the bank close to the police station and pasted posters demanding the release of arrested tribal leader and People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) leader Chhattradhar Mahato.

A large police force has left for the remote spot, but has not been able to reach as Maoists have reportedly planted landmines along the way.

Dibakar Bhattacharya and Swapan Roy are the first two police officers to be killed by the ultras after the West Bengal government launched a massive security operation to flush out Maoist rebels from Lalgarh, 200 km west of Kolkata, in June. The Sankrail police station is located to the south of Lalgarh and close to the state’s border with Jharkhand and Orissa.