I am neither dead nor injured: Kishenji

Sukumar Mahato, TNN, Apr 3, 2010 Somewhere on the Bengal-Jharkhand border: Maoist military commander Koteswar Rao, alias Kishanji, is alive and unhurt. Setting to rest speculation about his death or serious injury in a 48-hour gunbattle with security forces in the Hatilot forests of West Midnapore last week, the rebel leader met this correspondent in the forests of Jangalmahal on Friday. The spot is within 50 km of Lalgarh, where Union home minister P Chidambaram will land on Sunday. Rubbishing reports that he had received bullet injuries, the Maoist leader dared the forces to show their might during the home minister's visit. "Let them unleash the worst of oppression. We are ready for combat," he said. The rebel leader, however, confirmed TOI's report that Abhisek Mukherjee, a former international relations student of Jadavpur University who also went by the name Bikram, was killed in the gunbattle and squad leader Bikash had sustained "minor injuries". The senior Bikram, a CPI(Maoist) central committee member, is alive. Dressed in a blue shirt and olive trousers, Kishanji looked anything but disturbed. The smile was in its place but he had a dry cough and was just a little bit hunched. Interestingly, his five bodyguards had put on what looked like cricketing pads and chest guards. "A section of police had planted the news of my death in the media to demoralise our ranks and sympathisers. I noticed it, but was busy preparing for an operation. That is why I didn't contact anyone in the media. Here I am, neither dead nor injured," Kishanji said with a wry grin. According to the Maoist top gun, the outfit had suffered very little loss from the Hatilot operation but learnt a vital lesson. "The police don't have any intelligence network. Whatever information they gathered was by intercepting our phone calls to friends in the media. We have stopped making such calls. We went silent for all these days and are now trying to develop an alternative communication channel," he said. "The forces killed some five-six villagers and dumped their bodies in a well or covered them with loose earth. This was only to cover up their misdeeds," the CPI(Maoist) leader alleged. Courtesy: The Times of India
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