Chhatradhar Mahato.. Image Source: IANS News

Kolkata, Sep 25 : Trinamool Congress West Bengal secretary and ex-Maoist sympathiser Chhatradhar Mahato, along with 26 others, appeared before a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Friday in connection with the murder of CPI-M leader Prabir Mahato and holding up the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express for hours in 2009.

The Rajdhani Express was detained at the Banshtala station in Jhargram on September 26, 2009 to demand the release of Chhatradhar Mahato, then a jailed leader of the Lalgarh People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA).

The NIA had summoned Mahato and others for interrogation on August 28 and 29 at the Cobra Camp at Shalboni in West Midnapore district. But they did not get satisfactory answers from the Trinamool leader.

According to Chhatradhar's counsel Kaushik Sinha, the former PCAPA leader was summoned in connection with two cases of 2009. "The NIA took over the case and re-registered it against Mahato, along with 30 others. Today 27 people, including Chhatradhar, came to appear before a special NIA court in Kolkata," Sinha told media persons.

When asked, Chhatradhar told reporters: "The NIA special court has summoned me in connection with two old cases. I have come here to appear before the court. I shall be able to share details only after the proceedings get over." Sources said that the NIA hearing was held in a closed-door courtroom in Kolkata.

In a deft political move, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inducted Chhatradhar Mahato, who was jailed in 2009 for suspected Maoist links but was released after a decade, as a secretary in the TMC. Mamata made the move to stall the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state's Jungalmahal belt, which was once Maoist dominated. Mahato was given a key Trinamool post in the district in July this year.

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