Bengal violence: Three CPI-M activists killed by Maoists (Lead)

June 17th, 2009 - 6:43 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Kolkata, June 17 (IANS) Violence continues in West Bengal with suspected Maoists gunning down three ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) workers Wednesday in the Jhargram area, close to the troubled zone of Lalgarh, even as more central forces reached West Midnapore district.
The latest incident is seen as an attempt by Maoists to expand their base to areas surrounding Lalgarh, 200 km from here. So far seven CPI-M activists are believed to have been killed and six missing in the violence between the two sides since last week.

On Wednesday, six motorcycle-borne Maoists killed the young men - who were members of a local resistance group against the rebels - in broad daylight at Badhashuli in Jhargram subdivision of West Midnapore, police said.

State police chief Sujit Sarkar and home secretary Ardhendu Sen have also reached the district headquarters to monitor the situation.

Violence continues unabated in Lalgarh and nearby areas, with the houses of two more CPI-M leaders damaged allegedly by members of the tribal body People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) which, alongside the Maoists, has established a virtual free zone there.

Five companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) reached West Midnapore on their way to Lalgarh.

However, the PCAPA and the Maoists have dug up the roads at three points and felled trees on other approach ways to Lalgarh from Midnapore town to prevent the entry of the central forces.

Speaking to a Bengali news channel over phone, a top Maoist leader Bikash - now camping in Lalgarh - threatened to “strongly resist” paramilitary forces if they were attacked.

“The people are with us. We will strongly resist with the help of the people. If there is bloodletting, the administration will be responsible,” said Bikash.

“The paramilitary forces have come following instructions from the Writers Buildings (state secretariat),” he said.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said the government is “worried about the consequences” of the violence. “There are adequate central paramilitary forces” available to tackle the violence, he told reporters in New Delhi.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee reportedly told the ruling Left Front partners Wednesday that 500 Maoists - 100 of them fully trained in combat and 400 others semi-trained - had sneaked into Lalgarh from the neighbouring Jharkhand.

Bhattacharjee said as the ultras were now trying to expand their operations to nearby areas like Goaltor and Salboni, the immediate effort would be to confine them to Lalgarh.

“We will test their patience. There will be no attacks on them immediately but once their (ultras’) patience wears thin, they are bound to attack and then the police and the CRPF will launch a counter attack,” a leader present at the Left Front meeting quoted the chief minister as saying.

The state government has sought 50 companies of the central forces, but Delhi has rushed 13 so far. Apart from the five already in the district, eight others are expected to reach in a day or two. Four companies of the Cobra force - specially trained to take on Maoists - are also being rushed in from Orissa.

Lalgarh has been on the boil since last November when a landmine exploded on the route of the convoy of Bhattacharjee and then central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada.

Police arrested some school students and allegedly harassed tribal women following the landmine blast. In protest, angry tribals virtually cut off the zone from the rest of the district.

Maoists have been active in the three western districts of the state - West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. They also backed the Trinamool-sponsored movement against the state government’s bid to establish a chemical hub at Nandigram in East Midnapore district.

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