CPI M set up Salwa Judum model anti maoist squads in Lalgarh Area
Posted by Admin on September 23, 2009
Mystery shrouds body count after Lalgarh encounter
ENAYETPUR (WEST MIDNAPORE): How many were killed in the gunbattle on Monday night is still a mystery. While the firing was on, CPI(Maoist) politburo member and military strategist Koteswar Rao alias Kishanji claimed that they have gunned down at least 10 armed CPM cadres. But on Tuesday morning, CPM leaders rubbished the claim. They did not even mention the three injured cadres whom police “officially” shifted from the CPM office for treatment.
CPM’s defensive tactics resembled the Salwa Judum programme in Chhattisgarh. The fightback came as a boost to CPM cadres, some of whom had severed ties with the party in fear of Maoist terror in Jangalmahal, comprising West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.
It is unclear who started the fighting. According to some villagers in Enayetpur and neighbouring areas like Palasia and Bagerpukur, the first hint of trouble came around 2.30 on Monday afternoon. “Like other days, armed CPM men were patrolling roads and village lanes when they got a message that Maoist guerrillas were gathering in Lalitashole forest, bordering Enayetpur. An armed group rushed towards the forest border, firing on the run. Bullets hit three villagers, including two women,” said Bagerpukur resident Buddha Bera.
Tribals rushed out of their homes with traditional weapons and marc-hed towards the CPM party office at Enayetpur around 5 pm. Armed Maoists led the 4,000-strong brigade. “Guns started booming from the party office as soon as cadres on sentry duty spotted the Maoist party. The Maoists fired back. The villagers retreated and Maoist assault squads, including women, who were hiding in the forests, moved in to join the firefight. A huge volume of fire was directed at the CPM office,” said Bakul Rana, who lives within a hundred yards of the Enayetpur party office.
Police confirmed that three injured persons were rescued from the party office on Monday night and rushed to a private hospital in Midnapore. Locals, however, did not buy the police version. “We have seen at least six injured people,” a villager said. But, strangely enough, cops had no clue about the identity of the three men, who sustained serious bullet injuries, till Tuesday evening. The district CPM leaders have not officially claimed the injured as their own men and not lodged a police complaint either.
Keeping police in dark, all three were removed from the nursing home on Tuesday afternoon. “Still, we could not get the identity of the injured. We contacted district leaders, but they are not cooperating,” an investigating officer said. Police have not yet started a case.
A reason behind the studied silence of the CPM leaders could be that they don’t want to disclose the identity of the injured, as many outsiders had taken shelter in the party office. They also do not want to put this Salwa Judum sort of self-defence programmes on record, which has been disapproved by the Supreme Court.
“The party office was open to all for a few months since it was inaugurated in March. But for the past two months, it was out of bounds,” said Milan Dalui, who lives beside the office.
The change came days after the Maoist rebels took control of Dhenrua, a place between Midnapore town and Jhargram. Hundreds of sandbags were placed in different parts of the terrace to use them as bunkers. The left portion of the building, beside a stream, was open. But weeks ago, a wall was built to guard the party office from the back. “Three weeks ago, a pandal was set up on the terrace and in the backyard. Temporary toilets were made and several people started living inside the office. The inmates rarely interacted with us. None of them is a local,” Dulal Dalui said.
On Tuesday, the office gate was locked from outside. A tarpaulin covered the balcony, obstructing the front view of the office. Three or four people were busy cooking food at the back. But they didn’t utter a word. When asked, they did not even admit that they were distressed CPM workers taking refuge in the party office. Men inside the office did not allow anyone to enter and even drove out people who took a peek at the party office from the back. “At times, we could see armed men coming out of the office. They are staying here for the past three weeks,” said Dhananjay Dalui, a villager.
ENAYETPUR (WEST MIDNAPORE): CPM cadres, who faced off against the Maoist brigade on Monday, had built sandbagged fortifications on the roof of the office and were evidently well armed.The state government, however, says it has no clue about arms being stockpiled or shots being fired from inside the CPM office. “The bullets were targeted towards the CPM office from a distance,” home secretary Ardhendu Sen said.
More than 500 bullets were fired from either side of the metal road connecting Jhargram with Midnapore, say locals. “The Maoists guerrillas, both men and women, moved through our village. They crawled into my courtyard, using the house for cover,” said Parul Bhunia. Bullets pierced her asbestos roof and windows, injuring her nephew Tapas, a Class XI student, and a relative, 23-year-old Umarani Duley.
“The battle continued till late in the night under heavy rain. It was dark and scary. Bullets were flying in all directions. The screams of the injured were just horrible. From time to time, we could see some figures dragging away the casualties. The downpour washed away bloodstains on the road,” said Tapas’s father Ajit Bhunia.
Live bullets and cartridge casings lay strewn on the field on Tuesday morning. Villagers showed bullet marks on
buildings on both sides of the road. “The warring groups had come within 300 yards of each other. The road was the dividing line. Guerrillas attacked from the forest while CPM cadres were well entrenched in the party office,” said Dhananjay Dalui, a local. The guerrillas could not cross the road because there was no cover to protect against the heavy firing from the office.
The gunbattle stopped late in the night when Maoists retreated into the forest. Police did not step into the area all night, fearing an ambush.
In the morning, a police team removed the injured CPM men from the party office. Later, a heavily armed force of police and CRPF personnel, some carrying mortars, combed the forest but found only a few bullets and arrows. The forces returned to the camp, leaving villagers terrified of another attack. TOI