Kolkatta, March 13 (): “The Maoists have called a 48-hour shutdown in the four states. We were informed through an open letter (in which) Maoist leader Akash on Friday had given the shutdown call,” said West Midnapore Additional Police Superintendent (operation) Mukesh Kumar. The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has called for a 48-hour shutdown in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa from Sunday to protest the “killing” of its commander Sashadhar Mahato.
Sashadhar was the brother of the pro-Maoist tribal outfit Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) convener Chhatradhar Mahato and was one of the second rung Maoist leaders in the state.
In his open letter, Maoist state committee member and spokesperson Akash confirmed the killed man was Sashadhar Mahato but alleged that the securitymen gunned him down in a “false encounter”.
Sashadhar was picked up by the securitymen a few days back and later shot dead from a point blank range, the letter claimed.
Akash urged people of the four states to observe the shutdown March 13 and 14, protesting the killing.
Sashadhar was the commander of the party’s armed squad in the state and was also a state committee member.
He joined the guerrilla outfit some 20 years ago and played a leading role in building its organisation besides being one of the key planners in the formation of the PCAPA in West Midnapore. ‘Several banners and posters put up by the Maoists were found in Jhargram area. The banners say Mahato was killed in a false encounter (staged shootout) with police,’ said a senior police official.