Exchanges of fire between the security forces and Maoists were reported in the Lalgarh area of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district on Tuesday, even as Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the second phase of the joint operations to flush out Left wing extremists from the area had not been as successful as the first joint operations by paramilitary forces and the State Armed Police in the region started on June 18.
According to the District Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma, the security forces and the Maoists exchanged fire intermittently through the day in the forest areas near Lakhanpur and Hatilot, which fall under the Salboni police station.
Even as the firing took place in Salboni, the spate of killings continued in the Lalgarh area.
Another political leader was murdered on Monday night. On Tuesday, the police recovered the body of Paritosh Mishra, a local Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader. Mishra had been shot dead allegedly by the Maoists. “He was reported missing on Monday night, and this morning we got the news that his body has been found near Dheura,” said Mr. Verma.
Commenting on the progress of the joint operations, Mr. Bhattacharjee, who was on a visit to Midnapur to review the progress of various development schemes, said a change in strategy was needed.
As the operations continued in Salboni, the Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (People’s Committee against Police Atrocities) called for an indefinite bandh in the nearby Jhargram sub-division from Tuesday.
Shops and educational institutions remained closed with supporters of the PSJBC demanding the immediate release of two of its activists.
The PSBJC supporters claim that two persons, Abhijit Das (25) and Johar Mahato (22), who had gone to Kolkata to purchase medicines for health clinics run by the committee, were detained by the police on Friday at Midnapore. The police, however, have denied the allegation