Gyaneshwari sabotage key accused shot dead in gunfight (Second Lead)August 27th, 2010 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Aug 27 (IANS) Pro-Maoist leader Umakanto Mahato, a prime accused in the Gyaneshwari Express sabotage case, was killed in a gun battle with joint security forces in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district early Friday, police said.
“Umakanto Mahato was killed sometime early morning today (Friday) following an encounter in a forest area of Jhargram,” West Bengal Director General of Police (DGP) Bhupinder Singh told IANS over phone.
Mahato was the leader of tribal body People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), which has been blamed for the sabotage.
The five-hour gun battle started at around 1.30 a.m. in Mohanpur forest near Lodhashuli.
Jhargram’s Superintendent of Police Praveen Tripathi, who led the joint force, said: “Thursday night we received pinpoint information that Maoist action squad members are holding meeting in Mohanpur area. Based on the information, the operation was launched”.
“While launching the operation, we detained several locals from the road approaching the forest. We suspect they were engaged by the Maoists for information about the movement of the joint forces,” said Tripathi.
“The Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) personnel led the operation followed by the jawans of the joint security forces.
“Apprehending that the security personnel were coming near them, the ultra-left rebels started firing at us and soon we retaliated. In the encounter, one of the ultras was shot dead from behind, while some others sustained bullet injuries but managed to escape,” Tripathi said.
The locals later identified the dead rebel as Umakanto. A police revolver, several rounds of ammunition and a motorbike were recovered from the spot.
Tripathi said the revolver was snatched from a sub-inspector of Jhargram, who was killed in January 2008, while the motorbike belonged to a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) member who was killed last month.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing the Gyaneshwari case, earlier announced a reward of Rs.1 lakh for information leading to the arrest of Umakanto and two other prime accused in the case - Bapi Mahato and Asit Mahato.
Bapi Mahato has already been arrested while Asit is still evading the police dragnet.
The Gyaneshwari Express ran off the rails May 28 after the track was allegedly sabotaged by the Maoists near Jhargram. A speeding freight train coming from the opposite direction rammed into the derailed coaches resulting in the death of 148 passengers.
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Tags: bhupinder singh, combat battalion, communist party of india, communist party of india marxist, dgp, forest area, gun battle, jhargram, maoist, maoists, midnapore district, motorbike, pcpa, praveen, s committee, sabotage, security personnel, squad members, tripathi, west bengal