Trinamool Congress has, for the first time, claimed credit for killing Maoist leader Kishenji, something Bengal’s ruling party was always reluctant to do.
“Our government has proved, through the killing of Kishenji, that the people will always have the last word,” Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and the rising star in Bengal’s ruling party, said on Friday during a meeting at Belpahari, incidentally a former Maoist stronghold.
Another Trinamool MP, Suvendu Adhikary, who was Trinamool’s West Midnapore district supervisor at the time of Kishenji’s death, was sitting beside Abhishek.
Mallojula Koteshwara Rao alias Kishenji, the CPI (Maoist) politburo and central military commission member, was killed in a controversial encounter in the forest of Burishole in West Midnapore district on November 24, 2011. The 57-year-old was incharge of West Bengal and the architect of the militant Lalgarh movement. His death gave the Maoists a body blow in West Bengal.
Abhishek’s statement has sparked off a political controversy, as Mamata always maintained the state government had no role in killing Kishenji.
On Friday, prominent human rights activists Sujato Bhadra and Chhoton Das, whom Mamata had appointed as interlocutors to bring the Maoists on the talks table, demanded a high-level probe into Kishenji’s death. They cited the Supreme Court observation that the state cannot kill its own people.
“The state can punish, but not kill. But here they have taken pride in a killing by the state,” CPI(M) MP and politburo member Mohammad Salim told HT on Friday.
“The versions of the police, the locals and the government had too many holes and the public never believed what the government said. Now that the MP has revealed the truth, we demand an investigation into the whole episode,” Salim added.
Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat in March 2012, on the occasion of Kishenji’s aide Suchitra Mahato’s surrender, Mamata had said: “You know that we did not eliminate Kishenji in a planned way. That took place in a certain situation... I was then in Delhi. Police did not know about the death either. Had they come to know, then they would have announced it earlier.”
On Friday, political party and human rights organisations were prompt in picking up Abhishek’s comment to prove their point that the chief minister had lied.
Human rights group APDR’s vice-president Ranjit Sur released a statement “thanking” Abhishek for “telling the truth” and demanding punishment for those behind the “statesponsored” killing. Kishenji’s killing took place when the Mamata Banerjee government was into its sixth month after sweeping the Bengal polls.