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Rocket launchers seized from Naxals’ jungle den ahead of Buddha’s visit

A day ahead of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s planned visit to West Midnapore,the police today seized a huge cache of arms...

Written by Madhuparna Das | Kolkata | Published: November 7, 2009 3:44:39 am

A day ahead of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s planned visit to West Midnapore,the police today seized a huge cache of arms,including two powerful rocket launchers,one IED,4 kg of explosives and several firearms from Sarenga forest area in Bankura,prompting the state administration into deciding to hire a helicopter for CM’s use there.

The two Maoists carrying the fire arms in a gunny bag,however,fled the spot riding a bike and disappeared into the Charbhaga forest bordering West Midnapore and Bankura districts.

Significantly,the IED recovered in Sarenga is similar to one that was detonated on the route of the CM’s convoy at Salboni on November 2,2008,said state Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh.

The rocket launchers,as described by the police,are improvised ones. They look like an iron pipe with 4-5 inches of radius and have a trigger in it. “The rocket launchers are improvised ones. This is the first instance in Bengal in which police have recovered rocket launchers. Generally,the Maoists operate here by blasting mines. It seems it is a new strategy they have adopted in the state. According to the information we have got as of now,the rocket launchers have been brought from outside the state. We are conducting raids in the Jungal Mahal area,” said West Midnapore SP Visha Garg.

According to a senior police officer of Sarenga police station,following a tip-off that arms could be smuggled to West Midnapore via Sarenga forest,the Inspector-in-Charge of Sarenga Police Station,Rabi Lochan Mitra,went inside the Sarenga forest with 15 police officers and 50 STRACO jawans last night. Late night,Mitra found two bikes entering the forest. Seeing this,the officers and his force hid in the forest.

“The bikes were coming near us… we were ready to grab them. However,they might have realised that police were there. As soon as we attacked them,the bikers fled the spot,leaving behind the bike carrying the gunny bag. The arms were recovered from the gunny bag. We have seized the bike (number — WB34R9958),” said the official.

The police have also found two improvised pipe guns and a 9 mm pistol that has a stamp of USA on it,said the officer.

Kuldip Singh,IG,western range,said: “The incident is a big eye-opener for us. We have to re-plan our entire strategy for ensuring CM’s safety. We will deploy more state armed police. Our intelligence agencies are investigating the matter.”

According to a senior officer of the district police,the rocket launchers recovered from Sarenga can be used as directional mines. Similarly,the devices can be used as proper rocket launchers,which have a range of about 500 yards and are strong enough to blow up its target.

The Maoists earlier used to have a factory in Bhopal from where they would supply these launchers to other states. However,the factory was later sealed by the police. At present,the launchers are generally supplied from Andhra Pradesh,said a senior officer of anti-Naxal squad of Chhattisgarh.

Meanwhile,Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said,“After the recovery of rocket launchers,we have opened up to the need of helicopters. We will take a helicopter on lease soon for the visit of CM.”

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