Lalgarh siege mastermind held

Investigating officers trick Maoist leader Mahato into giving media interview

 
Mahato, the brain behind the agitating People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) in Lalgarh and the surrounding region, was about to give an interview to a sleuth from the Special Task Force of the Kolkata police who posed as a foreign journalist (Anirban Roy) at Pirka near Lalgarh when forces surrounded him. A surprised Mahato gave up without any resistance shortly after 2 pm on Saturday, police said.

Mahato was immediately whisked away to the West Midnapore district police headquarters where he was interrogated for about a couple of hours. According to the latest reports, he might be brought to the city later for detailed quizzing at the CID headquarters here.

The PCAPA leader who was being trailed by the sleuths since early June, had been constantly changing his hideouts.

Veil of secrecy

“Even tracing his location by tracking his mobile proved elusive as he was always cautioned by the tribals about the arrival of cops,” a source told Deccan Herald here. After making several aborted attempts, sleuths keenly observed Mahato’s penchant for talking to the media and accordingly, a trap was laid and secrecy was maintained throughout the operation.

The tribal leader, who had been giving regular interviews to local television news channels when the anti-Maoist operations by Central para-military forces and the state police began at Lalgarh on June 19, had gone underground shortly afterwards. Reacting to his arrest, the APDR (Association for Protection of Democratic Rights) condemned the police for using the “veil” of a journalist and exhorted the media to express its resentment against the cops for “faking this media interview.”

Police warned

Maoist leader Kishenji also cautioned that police would shortly feel the “heat” of this arrest as surprise attacks on cops would be intensified.

He also claimed that at least four security forces jawans were killed and two others injured following a landmine explosion at a forest in Lalgarh which was again denied by the home secretary.   The tribals under Mahato had “liberated” Lalgarh and almost had a free run for nine months in the region with the police withdrawing from camps before the Central forces and the local police re-captured the areas from the grip of Maoists who were backing the tribal agitation.

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