Former Maoist woman squad leader Suchitra Mahato votes
For years her finger played around the triggers of sophisticated firearms, including the Kalashnikovs, but Wednesday the once dreaded Maoist commander Suchitra Mahato's pointer was marked with poll ink.
A close aide of slain Maoist general Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji, Suchitra exercised her democratic right at a polling booth in Ranahat in Bankura district.
Suchitra played a major role in the 2010 attack on the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) camp at Silda of West Midnapore district, when 24 troopers were killed, and was indicted in over 17 cases including murder, arson and extortion.
Married previously to senior Maoist leader Sashadhar Mahato, Suchitra was given charge of West Midnapore district's Lalgarh-Binpur squad, one of the most lethal rebel squads that operated in Junglemahal (forest stretches of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulai districts) of West Bengal.
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 gun battle with security forces in the Burishole forest of the district in 2011.
On March 9, 2014, she appeared before the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the state's secretariat - the Writers' Building - where she formally surrendered. Suchitra, draped in a sari on that day, stood beside Banerjee and urged the red rebels to come back to the mainstream.
Her voting Wednesday marks another milestone in her life - and her return to what we know as normal life.
(Posted on 07-05-2014)