Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rebels claim ‘tactical’ loss

PRONAB MONDAL

Goaltore, June 27: A Maoist leader tonight claimed the retreat from Ramgarh was a “tactical” and “honourable” one and threatened a stronger fight in the coming days.

It was tactical because “we knew we were not equipped to beat back such a massive force carrying sophisticated weaponry”, he told The Telegraph.

It was honourable because “at least we managed to detonate an explosive and engage the police in a firefight”.

But the Maoist leader insisted that the state and central forces would face stiff resistance when they marched northwards from Lalgarh town to Ramgarh (today’s advance was westwards from Kadashole).

“We too have firepower,” he said. “We shall put up strong resistance in our strongholds at Barapelia, Dalilpur Chowk and Kantapahari.”

He said the Maoists needed to put up a fight so as not to disappoint the villagers and lose “goodwill”, but accepted they might eventually have to cede the entire Lalgarh zone. “But the central forces will not stay here for ever. When they go, we will return,” he said.

The Maoist leader added that the rebels made a “tactical mistake” today. “If we had detonated our IED (improvised explosive device) after the police had entered deep inside the jungle, there would certainly have been casualties. Unfortunately, we detonated it when the police were just entering the jungle.”

The rebel leader said that when the police march from Lalgarh towards Ramgarh, they would be attacked from the deserted mud huts in the villages along the road, as well as from trenches near ponds.

Those guerrillas who have retreated from the jungles along the Kadashole-Ramgarh stretch will now join their comrades stationed in Barapelia, Dalilpur Chowk and Kantapahari, he said.

The police today did advance a couple of kilometres northwards from Lalgarh but then turned back.

The Maoist leader said that even if the forces eventually recaptured the whole of Lalgarh, forcing the rebels “to leave for Jharkhand for the time being”, even that would be a tactical retreat.

Before leaving, the Maoists would explain their reasons to the villagers at small, secret meetings, and promise that “we would be back to fight for them,” the rebel leader said.

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