Maoists using women, children as human shields: West Bengal

June 17th, 2009 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Kolkata, June 17 (IANS) The West Bengal government Wednesday warned Maoist rebels not to use innocent villagers, especially women and children, of trouble-torn Lalgarh as human shields to ward off any move by the administration to flush out the rebels.
“What is happening in Lalgarh is very unjust. Women, children and innocent villagers are being used as shields. This is a sad thing. This is very unethical, inhuman and dangerous,” Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty told newspersons.

He also appealed to people of Lalgarh not to let themselves be used as shields by the Maoists. “The villagers there have a lot of problems. They are not connected to the violence, but they are being put to danger.”

After a meeting with the district administration and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers at Midnapore town - the headquarters of West Midnapore district that includes Lalgarh - state Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said the administration is prepared for a security operation to restore the rule of law at Lalgarh.

He said the state police will lead the operation, with the central forces providing the back-up.

“We have to see to it that we can keep bloodshed to absolute minimum,” Sen said.

The chief secretary, however, disagreed with central Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s view that the administration was divided on the operation.

“In parts of the district there is lawlessness and atrocities. Our aim is to stop that and restore normal life and the right of people to protest democratically. There is no question of any division in the government on this,” he said.

But the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), which is in the vanguard of the tribals’ agitation in Lalgarh alongside the Maoists, said the entire country will be in flames if the central forces entered Lalgarh.

“If the government deploys the central forces, then it will commit a blunder. The entire state, and even the country, will be in flames,” said PCAPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato.

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