A police officer and a Maoist were killed in an encounter between security forces and Maoists at Sarenga in West Bengal’s Bankura district on Wednesday night. The encounter followed a raid on the house of a local CPI(M) leader by Maoists.

The incident occurred on the day Maoists offered to talk directly with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on a mobile phone number provided by them.

According to Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh, a group of Maoists raided the house of CPI(M) leader Tarashankar Patra around Wednesday midnight and opened fire at him.

The news about the attack reached the Sarenga thana immediately owing to its close proximity to Mr. Patra’s house.

“A team of security personnel, led by the inspector-in-charge of Sarenga thana Rabi Lochan Mitra, rushed to the spot and were confronted with firing by Maoists. The force retaliated,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu on Thursday, adding that Mr. Mitra was shot in the chest and he died on the spot.

While a critically injured Mr. Patra was recovered by the police, the body of a suspected Maoist Jagannath Duley and an injured Maoist were found at the spot.

Mr. Singh did not rule out the possibility of more casualties on the Maoists’ side since blood trails were found by security forces on the jungle track through which the assailants are believed to have fled.

Two detained

Two persons, Ramchandra Duley and Biswanath, were detained by the police in connection with the case while a major search operation was on to track the assailants.

The State government has decided to recommend Mr. Mitra’s name to the Centre for gallantry medal.

No call

Meanwhile, the much-awaited call on CPI(Maoist) Polit Bureau member Kishanji’s mobile phone from the Union Home Ministry did not come on Thursday. Maoists had asked Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to call up on the number 9734695789 after 5 p.m. on the day and talk directly to Kishanji.

Speaking to The Hindu from an undisclosed location, Raju, an aide of Maoist Polit Bureau member Kishanji, said they received no call from the Home Ministry.

Police sources said the mobile number belonged to police constable Shishirkanti Nag.

Maoists abducted him in October last year from near Belpahari in Paschim Medinipur district. Though he was released later, Maoists confiscated his mobile phone.

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