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Claims, counter-claims on Kishenji killing

Ananya Dutta &
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Varavara Rao says it was a fake encounter; CRPF terms it an ‘absolutely clean operation'

Revolutionary poet and Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao addressing a rally of activists of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, during the ‘March to State Secretariat,' in Kolkata on Friday. At left is grieving Deepa Rao, niece of Maoist leader Kishenji. — PHOTO: PTI
Revolutionary poet and Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao addressing a rally of activists of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, during the ‘March to State Secretariat,' in Kolkata on Friday. At left is grieving Deepa Rao, niece of Maoist leader Kishenji. — PHOTO: PTI

A day after Communist Party of India (Maoist) Polit Bureau member Koteshwara Rao alias Kishenji was gunned down in the Burisole forest in Paschim Medinipur district, Maoist sympathisers and security forces on Friday traded allegations and came out with claims and counter-claims on whether he was killed in a “fake encounter.”

 While revolutionary poet and Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao alleged here that Kishenji was killed in a fake encounter, Director-General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) K. Vijay Kumar told journalists at Burisole that it was “an absolutely clean operation.”

“I know this is a fake encounter. The encounter was staged to hoodwink the people and to divert attention from the incident,” Mr. Rao said at a rally in the city.

Kishenji's niece Deepa, who is in West Bengal to claim his body, also alleged that he had been killed in a fake encounter.

Mr. Kumar was, however, unfazed and said he was not surprised that the allegations had been raised. “It is the habit of such people to accuse [the security forces of fake encounters].”

“It is a custom to accuse the police, but that is part of our job,” he added.

Mr. Rao's suspicion was that Kishenji had been taken into police custody on Wednesday itself, tortured and later killed.

He claimed that the first media reports on Wednesday suggested that Kishenji and his comrades had been encircled by a thousand paramilitary forces, but they announced that he had managed to escape.

“If he managed to escape to Jharkhand, how did the West Bengal government kill him? How did the joint security forces kill him in Paschim Medinipur district,” Mr. Rao asked.

He also alleged that signs of torture were visible on Kishenji's body.

But Mr. Kumar said: “When we die in large numbers, it is always a very fair deal and when we are able to take them on [the Maoists], this is what they say.”

“They [the security forces] have been very tactical and it was an absolutely clean operation. They have acted on time and not lost even one minute,” he maintained.

Mother writes to CJ

Meanwhile, Kishenji's mother Mallojula Madhuramma has written to the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, expressing the apprehension that her son had been killed in a “fake encounter” and praying for a judicial inquiry into the incident.

 “The letter has been sent to the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court and a copy has been sent to the Supreme Court. We hope that human rights lawyers here will take up the matter further,” Mr. Rao told The Hindu .

Last year, the mother of CPI (Maoist) Polit Bureau member Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, who was also killed in an encounter, filed a petition in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The Court had directed the police to conduct the post mortem at the government hospital at Mancherial in Adilabad district and to show her the body.

Mr. Rao said Kishenji's death signalled that the Trinamool Congress-led government was not serious about the dialogue process and urged the interlocutors to step down.

Mr. Rao lashed out at the West Bengal government and the Centre saying, “on the one hand you are offering talks and on the other hand you are killing the man who had offered talks long ago.”

 “Ganapathy has offered talks, Azad has offered talks and Kishenji has offered talks. They only wanted that a congenial atmosphere be created,” Mr. Rao said emphasising that the Maoists had asked for “a simultaneous ceasefire,” but the outfit's West Bengal unit had even offered a unilateral ceasefire, which was violated by the State.

“What is the development that the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress has given to the Jangalmahal region? Have they given jal, jangal jamin (water, forests and land) to the people? They have only given 5,000 acres of land to the Jindals,” he alleged.


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