With the security forces intensifying operations against Maoists in the Lalgarh region of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district, there was tension on the second day of the 72-hour-bandh called by the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) as allegations of atrocities perpetrated by the security personnel against villagers poured in.

Police Superintendent Manoj Kumar Verma said there was no violence in the area, but the PSBJC leadership alleged that about 24 houses were torched by the security forces and Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadres in Bakshi village in the region and women were assaulted.

“More than 1,000 people from Bakshi and adjoining villages have taken shelter in relief camps set up by the Trinamool Congress and the Socialist Unity Centre of India due to the terror created by security force personnel,” Santosh Patra, a top PSBJC leader told The Hindu over the telephone from the Lalgarh region.Mr. Patra added: “Is this how the State government is claiming to establish peace? If the people who are tortured join the Maoists tomorrow for better safety, who will be responsible for it?”

Refuting such allegations, Mr. Verma told The Hindu over the telephone that he had not received any complaint about atrocities by the force personnel. Combing operations are being held round the clock on the basis of specific intelligence reports about the location of the Maoists’ dens in the region.