Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Maoist stronghold seized

30 Jun 2009, 0434 hrs IST, Krishnendu Bandopadhyay & Arnab Ganguly, TNN

LALGARH: Forty-eight hours after Ramgarh was captured, the Maoist stronghold of Kantapahari, too, was seized by security forces without any
resistance on Monday morning. Two armed contingents marched into Maoist stronghold from Lalgarh and Ramgarh, aiming to mow down insurgents from two ends. But barring a mine blast, in which no one was injured, a few felled trees and dug up roads, there was no sign of opposition. Three mines were detected at Shijua, two of which were defused.

With Kantapahari now under control, the inner circle of the area that was lost to the Maoists has now been won back. PCPA leader Chhatra-dhar Mahato is believed to have fled to Bankura. With the fall of Kantapahari, the 25km road connecting Lalgarh to Goaltore has now been opened. The major Maoist bases have been conquered, and police have decided to resume bus services in the area. Administrative offices will be reopened while developmental work will begin as well.

It was exactly at 6.30am that a contingent of state armed police, BSF and CRPF started for Kantapahari from Lalgarh, led by a road clearance party which swept 500 metres beyond the road on either side to check for mines.

Most houses were deserted but the troops encountered the first — and only — obstacle 800 metres from Patha-rdanga. The Ramgarh force, on other hand, closed in from the north. They had apprehended resistance in areas like Khasjangal, Dharampur and Kantapahari.

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