Kolkata: Pro-Maoist leader Umakanta Mahato, a prime suspect in the Jnaneswari Express sabotage case, was killed in an encounter with joint security forces in Jhargram area of West Bengal`s West Midnapore district early Friday, a top police official said.
"Umakanta Mahato has been killed sometime early morning today (Friday) following an encounter in a forest area of Jhargram," West Bengal Director General of Police (DGP) Bhupinder Singh told reporters over phone.
Mahato was the leader of tribal body People`s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), which has been blamed for causing the sabotage.
The five-hour encounter that started at around 1.30 a.m. took place in the Mohanpur forest near Lodhashuli.
A 9mm pistol and several rounds of ammunition have also been recovered, but Umakanto`s associates managed to flee.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing the Jnaneswari case, had earlier announced a reward of Rs. One lakh for information regarding Umakanta Mahato.
Mahato had been absconding since the May 28 train disaster, in which 148 people were killed after ultras removed the clips in around 50 metres of the track causing derailmemt of the Mumbai-bound train. Soon after, a freight train coming from the opposite direction rammed into the derailed coaches causing high casualties.
Another prime suspect, Bapi Mahato, has already been arrested. The third prime accused, Asit Mahato, has so far eluded the police dragnet.