Monday, December 18, 2006

Scribe held for Chakulia train plot in West Bengal

Scribe held for Chakulia train plot

Midnapore/Jamshedpur, Dec. 17: Jharkhand police arrested a journalist from West Midnapore district of Bengal late last night for his alleged links with last week’s Maoist attack on a train near Chakulia station.

A team from Jharkhand police raided Chitto Mahato’s house in West Midnapore’s Shilda, about 210 km from Calcutta, last night.

On December 10, about 25 armed Maoists raided the Tatanagar-Kharagpur Passenger near Chakulia, shouting slogans against farmland acquisition for a Tata Motors factory in Bengal’s Singur. They snatched two rifles from the railway policemen.

Police today claimed that Mahato, the 30-year-old local correspondent of a daily newspaper published from Burdwan, not only knew about the attack on the train but also participated in the conspiracy. “He showed the attackers escape routes through the jungles and also helped them in other ways,” said S.P. Burnwal, the sub-divisional police officer of Ghatshila.

A day after the incident, Mahato had requested Jhargram block development officer Ullash Chatterjee to let him use his fax machine, saying he was expecting an “urgent massage” from a friend. But he allegedly sent himself a message from a shop at Shilda.

“Half of the message came and then the line got disconnected. It was purportedly from the rebels to the reporter, confirming the train raid,” said a Bengal police officer.

The police traced the shop from where the fax was sent. “Its owner confirmed that Chitto Mahato had sent it,” Burnwal confirmed.

In Mahato’s house, the police found pamphlets and other papers related to CPI (Maoist) activities. “We expect vital leads from him,” said a Jharkhand officer. Mahato is said to have confessed to have attended meetings in which the train raid was chalked out.

Sukhdeb Soren, who was allegedly involved in several attacks in Bengal’s Maoist-hit terrain, was held in Ghatshila yesterday. “Soren, who is now in Bengal police’s custody, has confirmed that he knows Chitto Mahato,” said Burnwal.

Meanwhile, Naxalites raided a road-bridge construction site near Ghatshila and looted Rs 1.25 lakh from one of the officials.


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