Denying any role in the violence at Nandigram in West Bengal in which 14 people were killed, two senior Naxal leaders have admitted that Maoist rebels killed JMM MP Sunil Mahato in Jharkhand as part of a plan hatched four years ago.
The Naxal leaders told NDTV in an interview at an undisclosed location that Mahato was eliminated as he had become the "most serious hurdle for their activities as he tried to organise Salwa Judum-like militia in various areas" in Jharkhand.
"Mahato was said to be anti-Tata, but he fought an election with their support and actually won it. He was connected with Nagarik Suraksha Samiti and as a leader he was naturally the leader of the organisation," said one of the Naxal leaders who did not reveal their identities.
One of them said "the entire episode in Bijapur (where 55 policemen were killed in a Naxal attack on Thursday) is a kind of war. The Indian state is against us and have declared war against us, especially in Dantewada because of which we are retailitaing".
The political gain that Naxals will get from this action is that the "People's Guerrilla Army" will be converted into the "People's Liberation Army", said the leaders who spoke with their faces turned away from the camera.
Reacting to reports that Naxals had a role in the violence in Nandigram, one of the Naxal leaders said, "Actually in Nandigram we don't have any party organisation or activists. But it is interesting that most of the people who are against government policies in the fight against SEZs have come from the CPI-M itself."