Cops miss 'most wanted' Maoist by a whisker

Arms for tribals to intensify war: Kishenji


Home at last: Police officer Atindranath Dutta with his wife and child at their residence in Kolkata on Friday, a day after he was released by the Maoists. PTI

Crack commandos were in hot pursuit of the Maoist core team, which had been spearheading guerrilla attacks around Lalgarh in West Midnapore district, after they picked up a vital clue of the ultras’ location from a firewood collector, top sources familiar with the operation, said.

Kishenji, the “most wanted” Maoist leader, proclaimed that the tribal people in the region would be provided with arms to intensify the war against the state and was busy talking to TV channels, enabling cops to follow the mobile tower and pin-point his location. Sharpshooters from the joint forces, who had almost surrounded the rebels and found them within the shooting range, began firing at rebel positions in the Domohani jungle on Thursday night.

But within minutes, Kishenji threatened to “eliminate” Atindranath Dutta, the abducted officer-in-charge of the Sakrail police station — who was being held as prisoner of war — unless the forces stopped firing.

Helpless

It might appear a blunder at hindsight to call off the operation from such a vantage point. But the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government had little option except ordering a halt to the imminent charge at the ultras’ base. Had the forces gone ahead and engaged the Left-wing radicals in a fierce encounter, the first casualty would have been the captive cop and followed by two other constables and some local CPM leaders who had been abducted earlier.

The second casualty, which has indeed been a worrying issue for the state administration, would have been the morale of the state police force. According to sources, a sizeable chunk in the force has developed “an endemic allergy” to fight the ultras.

With Kishenji receiving a “boost” by securing the release of 25 tribal people, including 15 women, by holding a cop as prisoner of war and announcing that more such actions would follow if the state failed to declare an immediate halt to all operations against the radicals, a section in the police feels that the government and Maoists ought to hold talks at the earliest.

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