Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Top Maoist leaders may have fled to Jharkhand

Staff Reporter



KOLKATA: Amid fears that top leaders of the Maoist core group have fled to Jharkhand through forest routes, the joint security forces of the Central paramilitary forces and the West Bengal State police have launched “special night operations” in the Lalgarh region of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district since Sunday to undertake “more covert action,” in addition to the routine combing operations, a senior police official told The Hindu on Tuesday.

Though he refused to elaborate on the mode of operations initiated, he said several persons suspected of having Maoist links had been detained.

‘Leads’


The police had unearthed several “leads” while interrogating them, which he claimed were vital for further action.

Ten persons were detained on Monday night alone, he added.

State Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty told reporters at the Secretariat that the State government had requested the Centre to keep the Central forces deployed for some more time.

However, Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) convener Chhatradhar Mahato accused the police of ransacking villages and randomly arresting “innocent” people in the name of flushing out Maoists.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from Lalgarh, Mr. Mahato said: “Our committee members never had any link with the Maoists as we believe in a democratic movement. Several of our men have been hauled up by the police without any reason.”

Asked if the development initiatives undertaken by the State government could be seen as a triumph for the PSBJC’s movement, he said: “Until the plans on paper are implemented, we cannot call it a triumph. We have been duped by the State government earlier.”

Tuesday marked 21 days since the joint offensive was launched by the security forces against the Maoists and the Maoist-backed PSBJC in the Lalgarh region.

Barring some incidents of firing between the security forces and the Maoists and triggering of landmines, the joint forces have reclaimed most of the erstwhile Maoist-dominated areas in the region without much resistance.

The Maoist presence has been virtually wiped out with the fall of Kalaimuri and Madhupur, the last two Maoist strongholds last Saturday.

The flat terrain, not conducive to the guerilla warfare techniques used by the Maoists, and the dwindling public support are believed to be the reasons for the Maoist setback.

Disruption of normal life since the last eight months due to unrest has forced many erstwhile Maoist sympathisers to switch loyalty, hoping for peace and stability.

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