Saturday, 10 March 2012

Top Woman Maoist Surrenders, Mamata Says Holi Gift

KOLKATA: Top woman Maoist Suchitra Mahato, suspected to have been with rebel leader Kishenji when he was killed during a shootout last year, surrendered here Friday, a development described by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee as a "big gift for Holi".

"I am happy that Suchitra Mahato came here to surrender today. Very recently she got married. Her husband is also here. My best wishes for the newly-wed couple. They have surrendered, responding to our peace process," Banerjee told a media conference at the state secretariat where Mahato was present with her new husband Pradush Garai.

Squad commander Mahato, widow of slain Maoist Sasadhar Mahato, surrendered with Garai. They got married Feb 25, 2012.

The security personnel had been on the lookout for Mahato, who was reportedly injured in the shootout in which Kishenji or Mallojula Koteswara Rao, a politburo member of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), was killed.

According to the official version, Kishenji died in a battle with paramilitary forces and state police in a forested region of West Midnapore Nov 24. Maoists and human rights groups, however, did not agree.

The Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) alleged that Kishenji was killed in a "fake encounter", while Telugu poet and Maoist sympathiser P. Varvara Rao charged the state government with murdering him in police custody. Banerjee said Mahato had first surrendered before the inspector general of police and then met her.

Describing the top woman Maoist's surrender as an achievement for the state government and a Holi gift, she said the government would ensure that everything would be done, according to the package, to enable the rebel couple to lead a normal life.

"I am proud that my Maoist brothers and sisters are surrendering. This is an achievement of the government... this is a joint achievement of the government and my brother and sisters," she said.

"At the time of encounter Suchitra also got injured. She got bullet injuries in her waist. We will treat her," Banerjee said.

Standing beside the chief minister, Mahato, dressed in a sari, said: "I have come here as Mamata di (big sister) called for peace and called upon Maoists to come back to the mainstream."

Asked whether she was arrested in the aftermath of Kishenji's killing, Mahato replied in the negative and said: "I came and surrendered today."

To a query from a scribe as to where she had been staying for the last few months, she said she had been living in the village.

However, Mahato refused to answer any more questions, contending that she was not in a position to say anything more now.

Her husband said he had been involved in the Lalgarh movement in West Midnapore district that flared up after alleged police excesses following a landmine blast targeting then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's convoy at Salboni Nov 2, 2008.

"There are lot of reasons behind the surrender. We cannot give all details now," he said.


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