Lalgarh tribals decline to join peace talks in West Bengal

November 22nd, 2008 - 12:26 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Nov 21 (IANS) The impasse continued in West Bengal’s violence-hit Lalgarh area Friday with tribal groups, agitating against police excesses after Nov 2 Salboni landmine blast, and the administration engaging in a battle of attrition over the choice of venue for the peace talks.The tribals declined to participate in the peace process called by the administration at a district office Friday.

“We called all the tribal groups to participate in talks at a district administrative office at Lalgarh. But finally they didn’t turn up,” N.S. Nigam, West Midnapore district magistrate, told IANS.

“There was supposed to be a meeting between the administration and tribal representatives on Friday under the chairmanship of West Midnapore additional district magistrate R.A. Israel,” he said.

Nigam said the tribal representatives called the district administration officer at Dalilpur - a Maoist-affected area in the district.

“As per norms, the district administration can’t hold talks at a place inaccessible by road. The dialogue can’t be held under the open sky,” Nigam added, citing inadequate security measures in the area.

Trouble erupted at Lalgarh after the district police arrested some school students and allegedly heckled tribal women after a landmine blast ambushed the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada near Bhadutala Nov 2.

The tribals dug up metalled roads and placed big tree trunks across them, virtually cutting off the trouble-prone zone from the rest of the district.

“We are constantly trying to resolve the impasse but still a section of tribals is agitating at Lalgarh. They cut off a portion of Lalgarh and Ramgarh from the rest of the district,” state Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS.

He said the police were keeping a tab on the overall situation.

“We’re hopeful of a solution to this bad law and order situation,” Kanojia said.

Leaders of various tribal groups - some of which are suspected to have links with the Maoists - are protesting for over a week against alleged police actions on the local people.

The tribals also demanded a public apology from the district police for the alleged excesses committed against them during the course of investigation into the landmine blast.

State Home Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty Friday submitted a report to the chief minister explaining the situation at ground zero. Later, the report on Lalgarh would also be forwarded to the central government, officials said.

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