Kolkata: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday rubbished speculation that top Maoist leader Mollajulla Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji was killed in a fake encounter by the security forces in Midnapore district of West Bengal.
Speaking to reporters during the monthly briefing of his Ministry, the Home Minister said, “Maoists leader Kishenji was killed in a fierce gunbattle with the security forces in a forest in West Midnapore district. I want to clear doubts by saying that he was not killed in a fake encounter.”
“The government never encourages fake encounters,” he said driving his point home.
Chidambaram also told reporters that in the aftermath of Kishenji’s killing a security alert has been issued in most of the Naxal-affected areas fearing a counter-attack by the home-grown rebels.
Making a fresh appeal to the Naxals to abjure violence, Chidambaram said that they should come forward for talks.
“I have said it umpteen times that the state would not bend before anyone who believes in violence. That’s why we have always said that shun violence first and come for talks. And if you do that you will treated with dignity.”
Responding to a volley of questions concerning today’s blast in Imphal, the Home Minister said, “Today a low-intensity blast took place in Imphal in which three or four people were injured. I have been told that the IED was handed over to a person but before he could place it, the bomb went off.”
“However, in view of Prime Minister’s scheduled visit to the state, a high alert has been sounded in the entire state. We have asked the security forces and the intelligence agencies to remain vigilant in order to foil such attempts,” he added.
The Home Minister also confirmed the arrest of six suspected operatives of terror outfit Indian Mujahideen from Delhi, Chennai and Bihar. They are being interrogated in connection with their role in the German Bakery blast in Pune, the firing incident outside Delhi’s Jama Masjid just before the CW Games in October last year, and the bomb blast outside the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore in April last year.
“One among those arrested by the security agencies is a Pakistani national and they are being interrogated at the moment for their role in several blasts.”
Home Minister’s statement comes nearly a week after 58-year-old Rao alias Kishenji, a Maoist politburo member and third ranking Maoist commander, was killed in a fierce gunbattle in West Bengal.
Shortly after the encounter, Kishenji’s family and Maoist sympathizers alleged that Rao was killed in a fake encounter and pledged to avenge his killing.
Sensing the situation, the West Bengal government sounded a statewide alert after receiving a directive from the Union Home Ministry.
This was the first major offensive against the Maoists after the Mamata Banerjee government assumed power in the state.