CPI(M) leader murder case: Chhatradhar Mahato asked to appear before NIA court on Dec 18

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Kolkata, Nov 18 (PTI) A special NIA court here directed Chhatradhar Mahato, a former leader of Maoist-backed People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), to appear before it on December 18 after he failed to present himself before it on Wednesday as per its earlier order in connection with a 2009 murder case of a CPI(M) leader.

Special NIA court judge Suvendu Samanta ordered Mahato to present himself before the court for the hearing of a prayer by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for his custodial interrogation.

Mahato had failed to appear before the court on at least four earlier occasions claiming illness.

His lawyer submitted on Wednesday that Mahato could not come to Kolkata from his Paschim Medinipur district residence owing to lack of proper public transport facilities.

The agency has prayed for custodial interrogation of Mahato in connection with the killing of a local CPI(M) leader in 2009 at Lalgarh, once a hotbed of Maoist activities in the Jangalmahal area of West Bengal.

The 57-year-old man was a prominent leader of the Lalgarh movement spearheaded by the PCAPA.

The NIA has charged Mahato with various sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, apart from waging war against the country.

In August, Mahato was questioned by NIA in connection with the murder case of the CPI(M) leader and the October 2009 hijacking of New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express from Bhubaneswar for five hours at Jhargram station.

Mahato was arrested on September 26, 2009, from present-day Jhargram district for an attempt on the life of former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Kantapahari area of Paschim Medinipur district on November 2, 2008.

He was set free in February this year following a reduction of his life term to 10 years by Calcutta High Court for his good conduct.

Mahato was inducted into the Trinamool Congress state committee in July. PTI AMR NN NN