Burishole, Nov. 25: The new state government had penetrated the ranks of Maoist frontal organisation PCPA and ensured a steady flow of information that eventually led security forces to Kishan, known as the "wily fox of Jungle Mahal" because he had repeatedly outsmarted pursuers in the past.
The Bengal security establishment is almost convinced that the person felled by bullets in West Midnapore's Burishole forest yesterday afternoon is Kishan. Maoist sources have already confirmed Kishan is dead.
The government is expected to make a formal announcement tomorrow if Kishan's niece, who last saw him 32 years ago when she was aged four, and Maoist sympathiser Varavara Rao identify the body.
The state secretary of the CPI (Maoist), Akash, admitted today that the information that had eventually led the forces to Kishan had been leaked by "some among us". Akash added that Kishan was killed in a "fake encounter".
"We have been told by our sources that information about Kishanji was leaked to the police by our sympathisers, from among us," Akash told The Telegraph. "During the last discussion I had with Kishanji, he told me that our enemy had managed to penetrate our sympathisers."
A combination of factors stemming from the change of guard at Writers' appears to have helped the security forces find and take advantage of cracks in the outer wall that shielded the Maoists in Jungle Mahal.
For the past six months, police had been "cultivating" disgruntled members of the PCPA or the People's Committee against Police Atrocities, which was formed a little over a week after the Salboni attack on the convoy of former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The committee was the single biggest force that allowed the Maoists to strike deeper roots and shut the government out of Lalgarh.
After the Assembly elections, the police concentrated on those PCPA members who had either been forced to support the Maoists or had grown tired of the violence. The selling point was a plea to give the new government a chance to prove what it had promised.
"We first identified those PCPA members who we thought were not fully committed to the rebels' cause and wanted a new beginning in Jungle Mahal. Then we impressed on them the need to give the new government a chance to deliver what chief minister Mamata Banerjee had promised," said a police officer who did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the subject.
"We slowly convinced them to provide information about the Maoists as they were an obstacle on the path to development," the officer added.
These pieces of information provided by disillusioned Maoist sympathisers, including a supplier of food and other essentials, first alerted the security forces to the possibility of Kishan's presence in Kushboni. The wide sweep in Kushboni on Wednesday set the stage for the final assault in Burishole forest yesterday.
If the strategy indeed yielded results as the officer claimed, it is a dramatic shift from the strategy followed by the Left government in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Bhattacharjee's convoy. The police brutality that followed was seen as further alienating the people in Lalgarh and gifting the Maoists the stranglehold they were looking for.
Maoist leader Akash's response suggested that his group found itself facing an invisible enemy once some of the sympathisers started leaking information. "We took it very seriously as it is easy to identify CPM people passing on information to the police but difficult to do so when they are from among us," Akash said.
The police officer's assessment that the hunger for peace was the tide-turner may sound too simplistic but some villagers did echo him.
"There have been too many killings. We have voted out the CPM and a new government has come to power. It has promised us water, jobs, schools and colleges and has provided girls with cycles to ride to schools. Why not give this government a chance? A month after the new government took over, the Maoists started saying things against it. That is not right," a villager in Jungle Mahal's Gosaidanga said.
The police also feel the change of government has prompted some villagers, who had come in contact with Trinamul activists and some leaders when the Left was in power, to overcome their earlier fear of the Maoists and discreetly help the security forces.
Referring to the Burishole encounter, K. Vijay Kumar, the director-general of the CRPF, said: "It was a clean and tactical operation based on specific intelligence inputs."
A police officer said the "specific inputs" had been supplied by the disillusioned PCPA members.