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Lalgarh: Unconditional release of Mahato demanded

Posted by Admin on September 30, 2009

Raktima Bose, The Hindu

KOLKATA: Violence continued to rage in the Lalgarh area of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district as security forces and suspected Maoists engaged in a gunbattle at Dahijuri on Tuesday evening, three days after the arrest of Chhatradhar Mahato, convener of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC). Supporters of the PSBJC, meanwhile, threatened to embark on a “blood-soaked movement shortly” in the Lalgarh area unless their leader was unconditionally released. Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from Dharampur near Lalgarh on Tuesday, senior PSBJC leader Asit Mahato said: “We have treaded the peaceful path of democratic movement for long. But when the State government has chosen the violent way, we will not sit back. Preparations for a blood-soaked movement are underway and we are mobilising the tribal population in the region for the same.”

Mr. Mahato added that besides the 48-hour-bandh called by the PSBJC in the Jangalmahal area (common name for forested areas in the region) from September 30, it was also contemplating calling an indefinite bandh in the region unless their demand was met.

That the threats by the PSBJC supporters and the Maoists to retaliate violently in protest against Chhatradhar Mahato’s arrest are not empty is proved by the slew of violent incidents taking place in the region since his arrest.

Apart from torching houses of Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporters and public vehicles and triggering landmine blasts, the PSBJC supporters have reverted to their earlier method of protesting — digging up roads and felling trees across them .

The district police superintendent Manoj Kumar Verma said apart from the incident of fire-exchange, one landmine was also detected and defused by the police during the day.

None, however, was arrested in connection with the incidents, Mr. Verma said.

Fearing a counter-attack by the Maoists on the Midnapore town, security has been stepped up there and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Cr PC have been imposed in the Binpur, Jhargram and Belpahari blocks .

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