Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lalgarh: State forces battle on empty stomach

24 Jun 2009, 0447 hrs IST, Caesar Mondal, TNN

LALGARH: The state armed forces are fighting more than just the Maoists in the rugged terrain of Jangalkhand. They are battling hunger, thirst,
heat, and lack of sleep. Until Monday afternoon, members of the state police and RAF had to survive on muri (puffed rice), saag (greens) and a few spoonfuls of khichri borrowed from central forces, who are carrying their own ration, cooks and tents. Many have fallen and ill and several senior officers have sought relief from their duties.

Since the operation commenced six days ago, the 3,000-odd state forces have been marching on all but empty stomachs. They had reached Midnapore town on Wednesday evening and started for Pirakata at the crack of dawn. After camping in the heat for several hours, all they got was a plateful of khichri. The march started again. After battling Maoists and PCPA mobs, at the end of the first day's operation, they had to camp on the road at Pirrakhuli. There was no food for them that night.

"We gulped down some water and lay on the road," a policeman said. On Friday morning, there was no breakfast. After walking 7 km, they reached Binpur camp where they got some water but there was no arrangement for food since rations hadn't arrived. State officers borrowed rice and vegetables from CRPF and cooked khichri — just enough for everyone to get a few spoonfuls.

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