Violence continued to erupt in areas adjacent to Lalgarh in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district on Wednesday as security forces exchanged fire with suspected Maoists at several places and supporters of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) clashed with the police during a rally organised by them to mourn the death of an activist of the Trinamool Congress in the area two days ago.

Meanwhile both the policemen, abducted by villagers at Munidaha near Gohmidanga police outpost and later handed over to the Maoists on Tuesday, have been released. Rajendra Hela and Ramcharan Hela, reached the district police’s headquarters in the Midnapore town safely.

“Suspected Maoists fired at security personnel while they were carrying on a search operation in the Kotwali area earlier in the day,” Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Verma told The Hindu over telephone.

With the security personnel retaliating, a gun battle ensued that lasted for more than three hours before the extremists retreated.

Mr. Verma said reports of exchange of fire between the forces and the extremists continued to pour in from different locations in the region throughout the day. Operations were continuing into the night.

The PSBJC leadership, however, alleged that the security forces raided several villages adjacent to the forest, where they ransacked the houses and assaulted women.

On the release of the two policemen, Mr. Verma said they were being interrogated.

Clash with police

Hundreds of PSBJC supporters clashed with the police in front of the office of Jhargram’s sub-divisional office on the day when the latter prevented the supporters from entering the office premises.

Asit Mahato, a PSBJC leader, told The Hindu over telephone from the Lalgarh region that a mourning procession was taken out by the outfit’s supporters in protest against the killing of Trinamool Congress supporter Khagen Majhi, allegedly by workers of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), late on Monday.

“We condemn the injustice perpetrated by the State government in any form — whether it is the killing of a PSBJC supporter or that of the Trinamool Congress and so held the procession. But the police baton charged our supporters and even opened fire in which two of our supporters suffered bullet injuries,” Mr. Mahato said.

The PSBJC has called a 72-hour-bandh in the Jhargram sub-division from Thursday and threatened to block roads and railway tracks unless the police atrocities stopped. Mr. Verma, however, denied any firing and said several protesters were arrested.