Hunt for Suchitra yields purse
Burishole, Nov. 25: Security forces resumed search operations in West Midnapore's Burishole forest and its adjoining villages at the crack of dawn today for guerrilla leader Suchitra and the other Maoists who were with Kishan before his death yesterday.
The forces, sniffer dogs in tow, asked villagers over microphones to inform them if "unknown persons or outsiders had taken shelter in their homes". Police visited every house in six villages and checked the identities of each resident from voter and ration cards.
But no one was arrested. During the search in the jungle, CRPF jawans found around 50 spent cartridges of AK-47 and Insas rifles and a rod used to clean gun barrels. Some pins of hand grenades were also found near the encounter spot, which is close to the border of Binpur and Jamboni. The police suspect these could have been used by the Maoists.
The jawans also found a mat, a steel glass and a jerrycan full of water, some shawls and a purse containing hair clips and safety pins. The bag also contained a picture of Suchitra's husband, slain Maoist leader Sasadhar Mahato, medicines, letters written by Kishan and a 160GB hard disc. A bag found near Kishan's body contained Rs 82,000 in cash, two cellphones and six SIM cards. It also had letters written to Kishan by party comrades.
The joint forces had stopped combing the forest after last evening's encounter in which Kishan was killed. The operations resumed around 5am today.
"We sent a section of the personnel who had been carrying out the search operation since Tuesday night back to their camps and brought in 500 jawans from the Jhargram police lines," a senior officer said.
Around 1,000 jawans were split into two groups. They scanned the forest and the six villages on the eastern edge of the jungle. While CRPF jawans and COBRA commandos searched the forest, state police and counter-insurgency force personnel scanned the villages — Burishole, Kapatkati, Sarkata, Gosaibandh, Nalboni and Kusumdanga.
The forces had suspected that Suchitra and the other Maoists who had suffered injuries in the encounter might have taken shelter in one of the villages.
"All these villages are located within 1km of the forest. We had received an input from some personnel that a woman was seen limping away after the encounter. We suspect she was Suchitra. There could be other injured Maoists too and so we had suspected they had entered the nearby villages," the officer said.
"Besides Suchitra, we are looking for action squad leaders Hero and Sepai, and two of Kishan's bodyguards," he added.
The Jharkhand police has been asked to maintain strict vigil on the border with Bengal so that the injured Maoists cannot sneak into the neighbouring state.
Director-general of state police Naparajit Mukherjee visited Burishole forest around 11.30am and went to the spot where Kishan's body was found. CRPF director-general K. Vijay Kumar arrived at Jhargram town by helicopter and went to the forest by road.
Railway officials said security on trains and stations in Jungle Mahal had been stepped up. "Railway Protection Force personnel have been deployed at stations and near tracks. They will be patrolling on foot," said Saumitra Majumdar, the chief public relations officer of South Eastern Railway.
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