Monday, December 3, 2007

Aha! A Ranjit and a Maoist to boot


Calcutta, Dec. 3: Ranjit Pal, the Maoist who allegedly ran arms training camps in Nan- digram, is already in custody. Or is he?

The government is not sure if the Ranjit Pal who was arrested from a hideout in Bankura's Barikul on September 28 is their most wanted man.

The man held on charges of attacking a police camp in Bankura in December 2006 pleaded for bail in Calcutta High Court today.

It was turned down because, among other reasons, the government wanted to probe if there was more than one Ranjit Pal in the CPI (Maoist)

Acting public prosecutor A. Goswami told the division bench of Justices A.K. Talukdar and Tapan Mukherjee that investigations were on to identify the Ranjit Pal whose name had cropped up in connection
with Nandigram.

The chief minister had said in Writers' Buildings on November 12 that a hunt was on for a Jharkhand-based Maoist leader named Ranjit Pal, who gave guerrilla training to Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee supporters.

However, when the chief minister mentioned the name, one Ranjit Pal was already in police net. It is not clear whether the chief minister knew that when he spoke of a Ranjit Pal from Jharkhand.

The Ranjit Pal in custody is the son of Bishnupada Pal and a resident of Barikul.The other one, if he is indeed another man, was also born in Bankura. Now 24, he joined the rebels in the late 1990s and rose fast because of his leadership skills. This Ranjit heads a panel that looks after
the Maoists' Bengal operations.

He is wanted by the CBI in connection with the murder of Jamshedpur MP Sunil Mahto in March.

The Ranjit Pal in custody was allegedly part of a squad that attacked the police camp at Majeria near Bankura's border with West Midnapore.

"Around 10.30pm on Dec- ember 12 last year, around 50 guerrillas raided the camp. When the police made a counter attack, they fled into a nearby jungle," the acting public prosecutor said.

"One of Ranjit's associates, Bangsidhar Singh Sardar, was arrested in February. After questioning him, the police raided a hideout in Barikul and picked up Ranjit."

He has been lodged in the Midnapore Central Jail since.

Ranjit's lawyer, Rituparna De, said her client was innocent and in no way connected with Naxalite activities. "He has been falsely implicated."

She added that her client was ready to help the police investigate the case if he was released on bail


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