The West Bengal Police have killed one of the Jnaneshwari Express sabotage accused, Umakanta Mahato, on Friday in a night operation in a forest near Jhargram in West Midnapore district.
Mahato, one of the three people accused of causing the train accident on June 28 this year, killing 148 people, carried an award of Rs 1 lakh.
“Locals have identified the body as that of Umakanta Mahato,” said Praveen Tripathy, Jhargram police chief. He said Mahato’s body was sent for post mortem by afternoon.
Of the other two Jnaneshwari sabotage accused, Bapi Mahato was arrested on June 20 from Jamshedpur, while Asit Mahato still remains at large. All three are reportedly leaders of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA).
On Thursday, the police got a tip-off that Mahato, Maoist leader Jayanta and some other rebels were hiding in the forest. The Maoists, according to their standard operating procedure, dispatched two scouts, Abani and Sanjib, to find out about the force’s movement. But since the two were apprehended, the Maoists did not get any information.
The police said there were 10 to 12 Maoist rebels at the spot when the four-hour gun battle began about 1.30 in the night. After the battle was over, the police found a trail of blood and several sandals, which led them to believe that the Maoists had taken away the injured, leaving behind the body of the PCAPA leader.
Since May 2010, this is the third successful night operation by the security forces.
The police recovered a revolver – probably snatched from security personnel – a cell phone, some cartridges and a motorcycle from the spot. The police also detained 10 people from the area. Some of them may be formally arrested later. The motorcycle belonged to a headman of a nearby village, Soumen Bhakat, who was recently killed by the rebels.