Saturday, July 04, 2009

4 more Maoists held in Purulia

5 Jul 2009, 0353 hrs IST, Falguni Banerjee, TNN



PURULIA: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee may have restrained his police from booking Maoists under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act
(UAPA), but his government has kept the pressure on by arresting four more rebels on Friday night this time from Ghatberakerua near Purulia's Ayodhya hills. One of those arrested is a woman.

These Maoists were squad trainers, home secretary Ardhendu Sen said on Saturday. Malindra Besra, Gostho Gope, Haradhan Kumar and Mala Kumari (all in their early 20s) were picked up from Ghatberakerua under Balarampur police station late on Friday night. They were allegedly carrying pistols, landmine accessories and Maoist literature.

Purulia SP Rajesh Kumar Yadav held elaborate meetings in the district headquarters on Saturday morning to carefully frame charges against those arrested. The four are likely to be booked under various sections of the IPC and can only be booked under UAPA if the home secretary so orders.

The arrests have created quite a sensation in the area considering that five CPM leaders were killed in and around the Balarampur police station area in the last six months. Last month, Maoists had locked the Ghatberakerua panchayat office in an attempt to intimidate residents.

"We have been keeping a close watch on Maoists' movement here ever since the Lalgarh operations. The police were especially kept on alert because the Ayodhya hills are a convenient escape route from Lalgrah. We had information that those fleeing Lalgarh may take refuge in and around the Ayodhya hills," said a police official.

However, Nishikanta Mehta, district Forward Bloc president, felt that the police had reacted too late in the day. "We kept alerting the police about the rebels' movement since the last panchayat elections, but nobody heeded to our warnings," he said.

Manindra Gope, CPM state committee member, echoed: "Police should have been more cautious about the Maoists' whereabouts and their activities in Purulia." Trinamool Congress district president K P Singh Deo skirted the issue of arrest and preferred to talk about the "Left Front government's total failure in development". He said: "If people are starving, they would naturally resort to all sorts of crime."

Police said they have also beefed up security in Arsha and Bandwan, too, as they suspect that although some Maoists have fled to Jharkhand, a few have stayed back in Purulia.

The Maoist-backed People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), meanwhile, has called a bandh across the three districts of Bankura, West Midnapore and Purulia on July 8. PCPA spokesperson Chhatradhar Mahato said on Saturday that the bandh has been called to protest the arrest of 30 PCPA workers, the warrant issued against him and the harassment of city intellectuals, who went to Lalgarh during the joint operations. PCPA has sought the support of all political parties.

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