Kolkata, March 9: Top woman Maoist squad leader Suchitra Mahato, who surrendered Friday, is capable of handling all sophisticate firearms including Anton Kalashnikovs and INSAS assault rifles and has 17 cases including murder, extortion, arson and other subversive activities against her.
Married previously to senior Maoist leader Sashadhar Mahato, Suchitra was given charge of West Minnapore district’s Lalgarh-Binpur squad, one of the most lethal rebel squads that operated in Junglemahal (forested stretches of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulai districts) after her husband was killed in a shootout in March last year at a forest in Lalgarh area.
The eldest of four siblings, Suchitra was born in Barabandhshola village in Lalgarh and is said to have left home at the age of 16 in 1996 to join the Maoists, disgusted with land related disputes and poverty dogging her family.
However, another theory says she had gone to a rural fair, where she lost her way and was picked up by suspected Maoists. The police first got trace of her when she was 22 – a leader capable of firing ultra-modern firearms.
In 2003-04, the police conducted a raid but she managed to flee, though a Heckler and Cock revolver – used in the Bosnian civil war – was found from her hideout.
In June or September 2000, she married Sashadhar and led two major attacks in subsequent years. In October 2009, she led the raid on the Sankrail police station, from where the officer in charge Atin Dutta was abducted, but later set free by Maoist politburo member Kishenji alias Koteshwar Rao.
In February 2010, Suchitra played a leading role in the attack on the Eastern Frontier Rifles camp at Silda of West Midnapore district, killing 24 troopers.
After Sashadhar’s death, Suchitra became a close associate of Kishenji and is believed to have been with him when he was killed in a gunbattle with security forces at the Burishole jungle in West Midnapore.
Police claim she was hurt in the encounter. But while the Central Reserve Police Force claim a bullet had grazed her stomach, the district police said she sustained a bullet injury in her left hand.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Suchitra had come all by herself to Kolkata Friday and surrendered.
But source close to the Maoists said Suchitra was intercepted near Ghatshila in Jahakhand by the joint security forces of the central government and state police last December, kept in a safe house, interrogated, and finally made to surrender Friday.
The chief minister also said Suchitra married Pradush Garai – a comrade of the Lalgarh movement on Feb 25.