Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Maoists kill two CPI-M activists in Lalgarh, trigger blast

July 14th, 2009 - 6:21 pm

Lalgarh (West Bengal), July 14 (IANS) Suspected Maoists killed two Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) activists here Tuesday and triggered a landmine blast, raising questions over the effectiveness of the security operation to flush out the rebels from this area in West Bengal.
The bodies of the two CPI-M workers - Swapan Debsingha and Tarini Mahato - were found near a ditch in the forest area of Memul under Shalboni police station, Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS in Kolkata. Armed Maoists had abducted the duo Monday night.

Sources in Memul said the incident - on the 27th day of the security operation launched in West Midnapore by the state government to free the area of the leftwing rebels - has triggered panic among the villagers. Senior police officers have rushed to the spot.

The ultras also detonated a landmine that damaged a portion of an under-construction community hall at Barabazar in neighbouring Purulia district Monday night.

Eyewitnesses said around 20-25 Maoists raided the community hall and left behind posters eulogising their ideology.

The security forces nabbed a suspected Maoist Sambhu alias Salil Lohar from Bikrampur under Sarenga police station in the neighbouring district of Bankura Monday.

Police claimed Lohar was involved in planting a landmine between Kargil junction and Baliapal a few days back.

West Midnapore and the two neighbouring districts of Purulia and Bankura have seen an escalation in Maoist violence since the middle of last week, even as security forces continue the combing operations to flush out rebels in villages there.

The forces are also said to be planning an operation to flush out Maoists from Bundwan in Purlia district, with new state Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh himself flying in to the district a couple of days back to discuss the details.

Observers feel while the security forces have established their hold on the main roads and the villages in their vicinity, they have not been able to penetrate the remote villages where the Maoists still have their clandestine bases and enjoy the support of the locals.

The ultras, who were lying low since the security operation started June 18, even dared to fire at the security forces’ camp at Dharampur in West Midnapore district Monday night.

Police feel the Maoists are using an associate group, a tribal organisation People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), to put pressure on the security forces to vacate school buildings where they have been accommodated.

The numerous protests by students, teachers and parents over the last few days against army camps in schools have been engineered by the PCAPA.

A section of the locals, still living in fear of the Maoists and afraid of the consequences when the central forces leave, led the agitations, said a police officer.

On Friday, the Maoist rebels abducted and lynched two CPI-M activists in the Chandra area of Sirsi village near the Kotwali police station of the district.

After the bodies were discovered, nobody had the courage to pick up the bodies. The terror-stricken villagers left their homes, amidst threat from the ultras that whoever touched the corpses would meet the same fate.

Finally, escorted by a large posse of policemen, the family members of the two men held the funeral about 18 km away at the district headquarters of Midnapore town.

The police have so far rounded up over 40 people branding them suspected Maoists, or Maoist linkmen. However, big fish like Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanji or local ‘commander’ Bikash have remained elusive.

The only major breakthrough achieved by the security forces so far is the arrest of the 25-year-old Biswanath Mahato, an alleged propaganda secretary of the Communist Party of India-Maoist and a close linkman of Kishanji.

The huge security operation was launched by the state government after the rebels had virtually made areas in and around Lalgarh a “free zone” by torching police camps, killing leaders of the ruling communists and driving away the civil administration since last November.

Maoists are active in areas under 21 police stations in the state’s three western districts - West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.

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