Artists write to Chidambaram, more forces in LalgarhJune 25th, 2009 - 3:43 pm ICT by IANS
Lalgarh (West Bengal), June 25 (IANS) Eminent artists have written to Home Minister P. Chidambaram complaining about atrocities by security forces, whose presence in this trouble zone was beefed up Thursday by 1,000 paramilitary troopers crossing over from Jharkhand.
“We have written to union Home Minister P. Chidambaram based on our experiences. We have demanded that the security operations be stopped and a ceasefire declared to facilitate talks between the ultras and the administration,” said theatre personality Kaushik Sen.
“We have also written to the minister about our experiences and the tales of atrocities committed by the forces we heard from the villagers,” Sen told IANS in Kolkata.
Sen was part of a delegation of intellectuals opposed to West Bengal’s ruling Left Front who Sunday visited Lalgarh, a former rebel-held enclave, 200 kms from the state capital Kolkata, where the state had virtually abdicated its role to hundreds of Maoist extremists till the security operations were launched June 18.
The West Midnapore district administration has already filed a complaint against the intellectuals in the Lalgarh police station alleging they had violated the prohibitory orders in force in the area on the assembly of more than four persons.
Expressing surprise at the state government action, filmmaker Aparna Sen said: “We were in touch with the chief secretary before our visit. He never told us about the prohibitory order. Also, we went there openly. There were lot of mediapersons with us. Why didn’t the police stop us then?”
As the artists geared up for the fight, so did the security forces.
Ten companies of central paramilitary forces were deployed from Jharkhand to reinforce the security presence.
A senior police officer said they would be split into small teams and sent to various camps police propose to set up in the area.
The forces are gearing up for a 22-km march from their base camp here to Ramgarh, where the rebels had earlier this month torched a police camp and driven out the civil and military administration.
The central and state forces were also combing the nearby jungles and villages to flush out the Maoists and seize unauthorised arms.
District Magistate N.S. Nigam said relief operations were on in the area for the affected people.
“We are distributing rice to the people,” Nigam told IANS.
The tribal body People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), backed by the Maoists, had since last November established virtual control over 42 villages in Lalgarh and surrounding areas by driving away the civil and police administration.
But the combined forces of the central and West Bengal governments have re-established the writ of the state in more than half of these villages.
Lalgarh has been on the boil since November when a land mine exploded on the route of the convoy of Bhattacharjee and then central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada.
Complaining of police atrocities after the blast, angry tribals backed by Maoists launched an agitation, virtually cutting off the area from the rest of West Midnapore district.
Leftwing radicals torched police camps, set ablaze CPI-M offices and drove out the civil administration to establish a virtual “free zone” in the enclave of West Midnapore district.