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Lalgarh: Retaliation rage in Maoist zone

Posted by Admin on September 30, 2009

KOLKATA: Three days after the arrest of PCPA spokesperson Chhatradhar Mahato, Maoists retaliated with heavy firing at Bankati in Binpur, around
200 km from Kolkata, on Tuesday evening. But no casualties were reported from either side.

Tuesday’s violence, during which 30 rounds were fired, continued till late in the evening. This is the second instance of firing

by Maoists in the last eight days. Last Monday, armed Maoist cadres had attacked a CPM party office at Enayetpur but were forced to beat a retreat in the face of opposition. With the two-day bandh called by PCPA starting from Wednesday, police are cautious about more strikes.

PCPA leaders are in no mood to let go the battle at this stage. "The way combined forces are torturing the villagers, people want us to go for a stronger movement even if it means spilling blood," said PCPA leader Asit Mahato.

Adding to the confusion, posters appeared at Belpahari on behalf of CPI (Maoist) threatening to kill "corrupt Trinamool leaders like Nishikanta Mandal".

In the absence of Chhatradhar Mahato, PCPA is projecting Santosh Patra as the voice of the organization. Till Mahato’s arrest, Patra handled cash for the organization. The 45-year-old Patra is known as a smart talker. After the combined forces started its operation in Lalgarh, Patra has been on the run. He has been seen around Dherua in the last three months.

Police suspect that Maoists will continue with late strikes to avenge Mahato’s arrest. Around 5.30 pm, gunshots were heard at Bankati. Though Maoists have been present in other parts of Binpur, their presence at Bankati was not known earlier. Police suspect that Maoists are spreading their area of influence in the remaining parts of Jangalmahal.

On Monday evening, the Red ultras had set on fire two buses at Dohijuri and Binpur after asking all passengers to get down. On Tuesday morning, landmines exploded at Dherua and Rathbera, Binpur. No one were injured. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion has put on hold a tribal festival held at this time.

Meanwhile, state home secretary Ardhendu Sen and city police chief Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti defended the police having used the garb of journalists to apprehend Mahato. Sen said there was "nothing wrong" in it. Chakrabarti, too, held a similar view. "To arrest a person who has several charges pending against him, every means is justified," Chakrabarti said.

"It will be all right after a while," Sen said. The home secretary said that the state government was on the alert and taking adequate measures to counter the bandh called by the Maoists on October 3. Asked why Mahato was not arrested earlier when he had met government officials or came to Kolkata, Sen said the situation had been different then. "It is a changed situation now," he said.

Sources said that writer Mahasweta Devi who has supported the Lalgarh agitation spoke to Chakrabarti about the manner in which Mahato was arrested. Chakrabarti refused to comment on the matter.

The West Bengal Union of Journalists condemned the "misuse of journalists". "We hold chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee responsible for whatever police has done," said Asim Kumar Mitra, president of the union. TOI

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