One person was killed in West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur district on Thursday, the second day of the 48-hour-nation-wide-bandh called by the Maoists. There were also reports of several houses of Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporters being torched in the district late on Wednesday.
The bandh was called by the Maoists in protest against the death of their spokesperson Cherukuri Rajkumar, who, according to the outfit, was killed in a fake encounter.
Suspected Maoists abducted Naren Mahato, a daily wage labourer, from his house at Lakhanpur village in the Salboni sub-division on Thursday afternoon and his bullet-riddled body was recovered from a spot, five km away from the village in the evening.
Superintendent of police Manoj Kumar Verma told The Hindu that Mr. Mahato had no political connection.
“We are primarily suspecting the Maoists since a bandh is on and they kill such poor people arbitrarily to create terror and panic among local residents. A probe has been initiated,” Mr. Verma said.
A large group of Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) members ransacked and torched the houses of seven CPI(M) supporters in the same area late on Wednesday.
The families of the CPI(M) supporters had already fled from the area almost a year ago fearing Maoist attack; so none was injured in the incident.
Meanwhile, Manik Mahato, who was arrested by a joint team of the West Bengal and Orissa police from Baripada in Orissa on Wednesday for his suspected hand in the Jnaneswari Express derailment case, was produced in a court in Jhargram on Thursday. Manik Mahato was remanded to police custody for 10 days.
According to police sources, Mr. Mahato was one of the principal plotters of the rail sabotage plans and had even mobilised people for the job of opening pandrol clips from the tracks.
His role in the incident was revealed during the interrogation of Bapi Mahato – one of the main accused in the case.
Defence counsel alleged that Mr. Mahato has been “physically tortured” by the police during the detention period leading the court to order his medical treatment.
The forest fringe areas of the three Maoist-affected districts witnessed almost complete shutdown during the day with vehicles staying off the road and most of the business and educational establishments remaining closed.
The bandh, however, had little impact in the urban areas.
The suspension of night time running of trains on the Kharagpur-Adra and Kharagpur-Rourkela sections of the South Eastern Railway was extended till July 13 on Thursday in view of the Maoist threat.