Proving the state’s claim that Maoists are on the run to be wrong, the rebels injured 17 policemen and snatched an assault rifle on Wednesday in West Midnapore district of Bengal.
The Maoist attack followed a police raid, led by Uttam Debnath, officer-in-charge of Sankrail police station, on a rebel den.
Around 4.00 am, Debnath rushed to Chunpara village, about 10 km from Sankrail, where the Maoists were having a meeting. When the police arrived, the rebels started firing on them.
Debnath received sustained head injuries and lost his AK-47 assault rifle. “A total of 17 policemen were injured in the clash,” said Mukesh Kumar, additional superintendent of police (operations).
West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia are the state’s three Maoist-dominated districts.
This is for the second time that the Sankrail police station, about 150 km west of Kolkata, felt the heat of Maoist violence. On October 20, 2009, the rebels abducted Atindranath Datta, OC of the police station.
Datta, however, was released two days later by CPI (Maoist) leader Kishenji as a ‘prisoner of war’ in a nationwide televised event.
In Wednesday’s clash, there was a civilian casualty, 45-year-old Uttam Mahato. He is known as a labourer in a local factory and is survived by a family of five.
Uttam’s wife, Monika Mahato, said, “Some people knocked on our door and entered the house forcefully. Some women were being forced into a police vehicle. When my husband protested, he was shot.”
Trinamool Congress member of Parliament Suvendu Adhikari visited the village and claimed that Mahato was a TMC supporter and was killed by the combined forces and CPI(M) goons.