Maoists blame surrendered leader for Kishenji's death

FPSuchitra Mahato after her surrender
An "internal inquiry commission" of the CPI (Maoist) has blamed Suchitra Mahato, once a dreaded underground leader, for the death of politburo member Kishenji in an alleged encounter in Junglemahal in November 2011. Four months after Kishenji's death, Mahato surrendered before Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Writers Buildings in March 2012.

Branding her as a "traitor", the CPI (Maoist) central committee has approved "retaliation" against those involved in the "conspiracy", saying they will be "punished when the time comes". The "inquiry commission" has said Mahato, who was believed to be with Kishenji during his last few days, lured him into a trap laid by security forces.

The "internal inquiry" has also identified the chief minister as "one of the chief conspirators", and warned that she will not be "spared".

Significantly, a day after the attack on the Congress rally in Chhattisgarh recently, Banerjee had said, "If I die, there are people to take the Trinamool Congress ahead. I have a hand-picked team of about 90 people who will take the party forward." Her comment was believed to have been provoked by the security threat. Her security has since been stepped up.

Top Maoist sources told The Sunday Express that senior leaders inquired into the circumstances surrounding Kishenji's death. About a month before the alleged encounter, the CPI (Maoist) central committee reportedly lost communication with Kishenji, and received reports that he was in "touch" with the political leadership of Junglemahal and was working towards a "truce" with the government.

According to the "inquiry report", Kishenji was killed by security forces after he was "trapped by the state government, using some of the senior Maoist leaders".

The inquiry reportedly found that Mahato had persuaded Kishenji to move to the Binpur area in Junglemahal, where he was eventually killed. Moreover, in the last fortnight or so before he was killed, while Kishenji reportedly kept his phones switched off fearing that the security forces would track his movements, Mahato, who was accompanying Kishenji, had kept her cellphone on, says the report.

The report also has a reference to the Naxalbari movement, during which Deepak Biswas, a close associate of Naxal leader Charu Majumdar, was identified as a "traitor" after the latter's arrest in 1972. Biswas was later murdered in Siliguri.

While Mahato is reported to be living in a "safe house" provided by the government, Maoist sources said, "Police claim she is in a transit camp in the police headquarters in West Midnapore district. But we know where she is."

While 32 of the 40 Maoists who have surrendered so far have been inducted as homeguards, Mahato is not among them. "Mahato runs a very high security threat, that is why the government needs to protect her the most. After a recent intelligence report, we have stepped up her security," said a senior police official.

"All the surrendered Maoists run security threats. But the threat perception varies from case to case. The risk is minimum for those who were inducted as homeguards. But there are some senior leaders who are high risk, and the government is doing everything to protect them," said Siddhinath Gupta, IG, Western Range.

Silda to Sankrail, named in 20 cases

SUCHITRA Mahato has more than 20 cases against her, including murder, sedition and arson. She is said to have led the 2009 operation in which the Sankrail police station in-charge was abducted, and two policemen were killed. She was also named in the Silda case in which 25 EFR personnel were killed in 2010. While she was earlier married to Maoist leader Sashadhar Mahato, she later married Prabir Garai, with whom she surrendered.

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