Monday, July 06, 2009

Lalgarh operation will continue, says West Bengal

Special Correspondent




On the offensive: Joint forces take position during an operation against naxals near Lalgarh in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district on Saturday.

Kolkata: The operation by security forces to flush out Maoists and activists of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) from Lalgarh and its adjoining areas in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district entered the 18th day on Sunday.

The State government wants the Central forces assisting in the operation to remain stationed in the area till the end of the month. A request has been made to the Centre in this regard.

“The operation will continue till normality returns. We want the Central forces to be here till July-end. If the government [the Centre] agrees, then they [the forces] stay,” State’s Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen told reporters at Lalgarh.

Mr. Sen held talks with State and police officials as well as those of the local administration in Lalgarh and Midnapore. Also discussed were steps to take forward the development process that had ground to a halt for the past eight months in the Lalgarh area in the wake of the PSBJC’s agitation.

Short-term and long-term strategies would be drawn up on the basis of reports to be made by State officials visiting the Lalgarh area for initiating development process in the region, State’s Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said here.

Mr. Sen said fresh initiatives for development would not just remain confined to Lalgarh and other areas in Paschim Medinipur. They would be taken up in the entire tribal belt of the region that includes parts of Purulia and Bankura districts. Besides drawing up development schemes, vacancies at the local level in the departments concerned would be filled up for the proper execution of development plans.

He said Maoists were still present in certain areas in the region from where they had fired at security forces even on Saturday.

The body of a man was found in the Goaltore area near Lalgarh. The police are investigating.

On the question of arresting PSBJC convener Chhatradhar Mahato, Mr. Sen said he was still in the area and would be arrested soon.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mahato told a local television channel that he had worked for the Trinamool Congress during the panchayat polls in May 2008. He said he was an election agent of a party candidate and was in charge of three booths. He also pointed out that Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee had earlier this year ensured all support to the PSBJC’s agitation there

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