Violence continued in the Lalgarh region of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district with the 72-hour-bandh called by the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) in the Jhargram sub-division entering its final day on Saturday.

There were reports of exchange of fire between the Maoists and the security forces, as well as incidents of the PSBJC putting up blockades.

According to District Superintendent of PoliceManoj Kumar Verma, the Maoists opened fire on the security force personnel in the Bhalukbasa forest on the border of the Paschim Medinipur and Bankura districts when the latter was conducting a combing operation.

“A joint operation by the forces in both the districts was done on Saturday, where forces from both sides closed in on the ultras. Exchange of fire took place, though there was no arrest as the Maoists managed to flee into the deep forest,” Mr. Verma told The Hindu over telephone. He added that raids would be conducted throughout the night to nab the Maoists.

Posters demanding the withdrawal of security forces from the region and immediate release of all PSBJC leaders, including convener Chhatradhar Mahato, were seen in several places. A group of PSBJC supporters even set ablaze a pick-up van on Thursday — the first day of the bandh.

The bandh was called to protest against the alleged police atrocities on the outfit’s supporters while they were attending a rally organised to mourn the killing of a Trinamool Congress worker in the region.

The PSBJC leadership alleged that security forces were torching houses of innocent villagers and assaulting them during the operations. The police, however, denied the allegations.