Gurudas says Kishenji killed in cold-blood

New Delhi: CPI(M) on Friday appeared to take a different line from its ally CPI on Maoist leader Kishenji's encounter, saying it could not comment on the circumstances of his death as it was not cognisant of all the information and only the forces on the ground would know the truth.

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta had questioned the manner in which Kishanji was killed by the central forces in an encounter and asked the government to clarify whether he was done to death in "cold blood" after being arrested.

In a letter to Home Minister P Chidambaram, he claimed, "The story of the encounter appears to be fake, needs to be inquired into and the government must clarify".

However, when CPM leader Sitaram Yechury was asked about the encounter, he told reporters, "Only the police would have all the information.... How it (the encounter) was done one cannot say. Only the forces on the ground would know."

Yechury added that he did not know about the circumstances of Kishenji's death and it was for the police to give a clarification.

"I am not aware or cognizant of all the information. But if an honourable member (Dasgupta) has said this, it should be looked into," he said.

He even welcomed the killing of the Maoist leader, saying "in terms of law and order the police have moved one step ahead". However, he added that the only way Maoist threat could be countered was through a political solution.

"The root of the problem is economic backwardness. Till that is addressed this problem cannot be solved," Yechury said, adding that the same parties were in power both at the Centre and in West Bengal.

58-year-old Molajula Koteswar Rao, better known as Kishenji, was killed yesterday in a gunbattle with security forces in a forest in West Midnapore district of West Bengal, a day after he narrowly escaped from there, according to the police.

Dasgupta, who spoke to Chidambaram on phone, quoted a "source" to say that Kishenji was arrested at noon yesterday and "subsequently killed in a cold-blooded murder".

"If my information is right, then it is an act of dastardly crime in violation of all national as well as international laws," he said in the letter.

The CPI leader also demanded that government should make arrangements for the travel of Kishenji's relatives to Midnapore to identify the body and attend the funeral.