Kolkata,September 29, 2009: There was nothing unethical about the arrest of Chhatradhar Mahato by the police disguised as journalists, a top West Bengal official said on Wednesday. "It was not unethical on the part of the police," Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said in reply to a question if it was justified for the CID to arrest Mahato disguised as scribes.
Sen suggested that as a measure of caution journalists contacting Maoists should do so over phone for some days. "The situation will normalise after a few days." "The police have confirmed information that Mahato, who is chief of the so-called People's Committee against Police Atrocities, has direct links with Maoists," he said.
Mahato was arrested on September 26 for sedition and under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act at Birkar village near Lalgarh. Sen said, there were specific cases against Mahato, who has been leading an agitation against alleged police excesses in Lalgarh of West Midnapore district since last November. Asked why he was not arrested when he visited Kolkata at least twice a few months ago, Sen said "the situation did not warrant his arrest then, it has changed now." The manner of his arrest led to sharp protest from journalist bodies, some political parties and a section of intelligentsia.
Chhatradhar Mahato remanded to police custody till Oct 1
Chhatradhar Mahato, who was arrested yesterday near Lalgarh where he had been leading an agitation against alleged police excesses since last November, was on Sunday remanded to police custody by a special court till October 1. The Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate also remanded eight others, arrested yesterday, to police custody till that date. The eight include persons arrested along with Mahato and those held during planting of a landmine at Katapahari.
Mahato, an ally of the Maoists, was booked for three offences, including setting fire to Jhargram police outpost and torching of several other police stations. Mahato, chief of the so-called People's Committee against Police Atrocities, who had evaded police arrest ever since he started the anit-CPI(M), anti-police stir in Lalgarh in West Midnapore district, was caught at Birkara, near Lalgarh, while he was giving an interview to a journalist who was followed by policemen posing as TV journalists.
Mahato, who was kept in the Midnapore Police Lines after his arrest yesterday, was brought to Jhargram amid tight security this morning. Initially, he was taken to Jhargram police station from where he was taken to the court around noon. The police custody of a Maoist leader Pradyot Mahato, who was arrested six days ago, was today extended by a Midnapore court till October 1.
Meanwhile, two police constables, who were abducted by the rebels after Mahato's arrest yesterday, remained untraced till date, the police said. The constables -- Sisirkanti Nag and Siddheswar Prasad Singh -- were on leave and had boarded a Purulia-bound bus from Jhargram when armed men intercepted their vehicle near Tamajhuri village, eight km from Belpahari police station, last night, dragged them out and disappeared into the forest.
The PCPA today dug roads and obstructed a 30-km stretch between Midnapore and Dherua with tree logs in protest against Mahato's arrest. They also jammed roads leading to Lalgarh at several places with uprooted trees. The PCPA has called a two-day 'Bangla Bandh' starting on September 30 and the Maoists have called a 'Bharat bandh' on October 3 in protest against the arrest.