TEACHER’S DAY: Teacher killed in front of pupils ‘Maoist’ bullet for CPM link – Bengal, “Teach Your Children Well” ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Midnapore, Sept. 4: Suspected Maoists today dragged a headmaster out of his school in Jhargram and shot him dead in front of students and teachers, on the eve of Teacher’s Day.
Police said Dibakar Mahato, 52, the headmaster of a primary school in Salboni, was teaching math to Class III students when three motorcycle-borne youths called him out around 11.30am. “They addressed him as ‘Dibakar sir’,” one of the 30 students in the classroom said.
A police officer said that as soon as Mahato came out, the youths “caught him by the collar and dragged him to the Lodhasuli-Jhargram state highway, around 60 metres away”.
“Then one of the youths shot him in the head with a revolver. Within five minutes, the youths sped off on their bikes, leaving Mahato in a pool of blood,” the officer said.
The officer said Mahato was killed because he was a member of the CPM’s Aguibani local committee in Jhagram.
The teachers and around 120 students rushed out of the school as the Maoists dragged Mahato to the highway. Local people also gathered at the spot after the students and teachers shouted for help as the youths sped off.
The headmaster’s body lay on the highway until a joint forces’ team from the Jitusole police outpost, about 3km away, arrived half an hour after the murder and took it to Jhargram subdivisional hospital.
The teachers and students said they were too “stunned” to know what to do and so did not take Mahato to hospital immediately after he was “shot in front of our eyes”. The school closed for the day after the murder and parents escorted the children back to their homes. Most of the students were too traumatised to speak. “Please don’t ask my son anything,” said a woman.
West Midnapore police chief Manoj Verma said the Maoists had murdered Mahato. “Going by the gory nature of the killing, we are convinced that it is the handiwork of the Maoists. We are searching for the killers,” he said.
Mahato is survived by his wife Sandhya, a librarian, and son, an engineering student.
Another teacher, of a primary school at Kalabani, around 9km from Salboni, has been missing since Thursday.
The police suspect that Fulmani Mandi, 30, also a member of the CPM’s Aguibani local committee, has been abducted by the Maoists.
CPM admits cadre link in attack – never to forget nor forgive ?!! the CPM kiss and make-up effort, but sloppy kissers ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Midnapore, Sept. 4: Police today arrested three CPM cadres for yesterday’s attack on journalists near a zone “recaptured” from Maoists, prompting the party to concede they were “our activists”.
But signs emerged that the action could end up as a token gesture, with a senior CPM leader saying the arrests should be “appreciated” and “tempers allowed to cool”. The police too quoted those picked up as saying they had attacked the journalists “by mistake” thinking their vehicles were ferrying arms.
The attacked journalists said they would accept that the right people had been arrested only if the police showed them photographs of the trio.
Among the seven journalists attacked with iron rods and sticks were Pronab Mondal, The Telegraph’s principal correspondent, and Amit Datta, the newspaper’s photographer. His left arm fractured, Mondal was today admitted to a Calcutta hospital.
Panchanan Mahato, Shaktipada Mahato and Rajib Mahato were arrested from their homes in Buripal, the site of the attack. The district leadership admitted they were party workers but said they were merely “guarding” their homes and had attacked the journalists “by mistake”.
The arrested trio had recently returned home after fleeing because of Maoist terror, the police said.
“Why don’t you appreciate that the police have arrested our activists?” CPM state secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty said. His admission about “our activists” is a step forward from yesterday when he had wondered if “overzealous villagers” had carried out the attack.
CPM district committee member Meghnad Bhuniya, who is in charge of the Salboni area, claimed the attack was a result of “panic reaction” and it lacked party “sanction”.
The chief minister, who had yesterday said “jani na (I don’t know)” over three hours after the attack, was not available for comment. Home secretary Samar Ghosh, who had echoed his boss, refused to respond today.
West Midnapore police chief Manoj Verma said the trio, arrested after police “questioned several people”, had been charged with rioting, attempt to murder, and arms act violation.
But, he said, the police had been “unable to find” the two CPM leaders named in the FIR: Pirakata local committee secretary Madhusudan Mahato and Salboni leader Jagannath Mahato. The attackers had backed off only after the two leaders arrived at the spot.
The arrested trio have told the police that party bosses had asked them to look out for two cars bringing weapons to the area, an officer said. “They said this was why they had stopped the two cars and the attack had taken place.”
The police said the arrested men had provided some names and “more arrests would be made soon”.
From his hospital bed, Mondal said: “We don’t know whether these three are being made scapegoats to brush the matter under the carpet. We have asked the police for photographs of the (trio)…. We will never be able to forget the attackers’ faces.”
Mondal said the police had not confirmed if they would send the photos. He also questioned the trio’s purported claims. “They made no attempt to search the car, as they should have if they were looking for arms. Nor did they ask for our identity cards. One of them had shouted: ‘Cut his hands so he can’t write any more copies’.”