A body, with AK-47 and hearing aid beside, found in West Bengal
Communist Party of India (Maoist) Polit Bureau member Koteshwara Rao alias Kishenji, who has been spearheading Maoist operations in West Bengal's Jangalmahal region, is suspected to have been killed in an encounter in the Burisole forest area in Paschim Medinipur district on Thursday.
“A body was found with an AK-47 and a hearing aid beside. We suspect that the AK-47 was probably used by Kishenji, but cannot comment until the identification is complete,” said Director-General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee.
Joint security forces, led by Superintendent of Police Praveen Tripathi, had launched massive combing operations in the Kushbani forest area bordering Jharkhand over the last couple of days.
According to the police, there was a “heavy exchange of fire” in the forest area between 4.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. after the police noticed the movement of a Maoist squad there. At the end of the encounter, a body was found.
“There are many similarities including the AK 47 which Kishenji uses, and the hearing aid. But we will not be able to confirm that it is Kishenji's body unless we show it to at least two people who could identify it,” Inspector-General (Western Range) Gangeshwar Singh told The Hindu over telephone.
There were reports that Suchitra Mahato, another Maoist leader and wife of Sasadhar Mahato who was killed in encounter in March, was among those injured. She was present with Kishenji.
In New Delhi, Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh told journalists that Maoists had suffered a huge setback, pointing out that the police were “99 per cent” sure of the death of Kishenji. The Ministry had sent his latest photograph to the State. Some time before the encounter, the security forces raided a house at nearby Gosaibandh, where a bag containing a laptop, believed to be Kishenji's, was seized, among other items.