With no sign of abatement in Maoist violence in the Lalgarh region of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district even two-and-half months after Central forces launched a joint offensive, the security forces are mulling over adoption of newer and intensified tactics to flush out the rebels.
In the latest incident of violence, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Krishna Kundu was shot dead at Asna in the State’s Bankura district (parts of which have a strong Maoist presence) on Thursday evening, local police sources said.
A revamped version of “night operations” is one of the strategies devised by the forces. Though night operations were being carried out since July 8, they were so far confined to routine combing by personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the State police. That too was interrupted by the ongoing monsoon rains.
Speaking to The Hindu on Thursday, Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh said that “special teams” comprising of members of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA) were being formed to carry out night operations. Instead of the routine combing operation, the special teams would concentrate on “target operations” for better results. Most of the incidents of killing by the Maoists and their encounter with the security forces had taken place at night.
Admitting that the onset of monsoon had hampered the joint operation to some extent, Mr. Singh said a simultaneous operation to flush out the Maoists would be launched by both the West Bengal and the Jharkhand police once the weather condition normalised.
State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen told reporters on Wednesday that the security forces were yet to gain full control in the Lalgarh area. He said 45 “hardcore Maoists” were arrested by the police since June 18 and there was confirmed report of the death of two Maoists and unconfirmed reports of the death of five more.
Pointing out that the Maoists were striking in areas where security forces were not present, Mr. Singh said that forces would be moved in to such places shortly.
Presently 15 companies of the CRPF, three companies of the Border Security Force (BSF) and two companies of the State Armed Police were posted in the Lalgarh region. The State government had requisitioned 10 more companies of the CRPF for launching an intensified offensive.
Meanwhile, violence continued in the Lalgarh area as three supporters of the CPI(M) were abducted and severely beaten up by suspected Maoists late on Wednesday.
Their houses were also ransacked and torched. They were released on Thursday and their condition is reported to be critical.
According to Mr. Sen, suspected Maoists had killed 35 persons in the region since the joint operation began.
Thousands of supporters of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) demonstrated in front of the Pirakata police outpost in protest against the detention of six of their committee members. Police resorted to baton charge to disperse the mob.