The NIA on Friday sought the custody of Trinamool Congress leader Chhatradhar Mahato and four of his associates in connection with the murder of a CPI(M) leader in West Bengal’s Lalgarh area in 2009. At the time, Mahato was the convener of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), which was known as a frontal organisation of CPI(Maoist).
Special Court judge Prasenjit Biswas said the plea would be taken up on Monday after Mahato did not appear in court, complaining of illness.
The PCAPA murdered CPI(M) leader Prabir Mahato in Lalgarh’s Dharampur village on June 14, 2009. It controlled the area at the height of Maoist presence in the Jangalmahal region, of which Lalgarh is a part.
In an undercover operation on September 28, 2009, policemen posing as journalists arrested Mahato. He was then charged under the UAPA, and convicted in May 2012. Four months later, the Calcutta High Court granted Mahato the status of political prisoner along with eight other activists.
Mahato, who is in his fifties, was released from prison on bail on February 1, ending his 11-year spell behind bars. In July, the Trinamool Congress inducted him into its state committee as it wants to re-establish its electoral dominance in Jangalmahal and consolidate its votes to stop the BJP from making further.
The NIA has also questioned Mahato in connection with the hijacking of a New Delhi-bound Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express by the Maoists in October 2009. The train had been hijacked to demand his release. The rebels held the train hostage for five hours before CRPF and state police commandos forced them to flee.
The TMC leader has claimed that the NIA investigation into his alleged role in these two cases are “politically motivated”.
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