Raktima Bose

The writ of the rebels still runs in numerous pockets of Lalgarh region

Considerable success after joint operations: DGP

“Maoists and the PSBJC are the same entity”

KOLKATA: It was exactly this Monday a year ago when a landmine blast, triggered by Maoists targeting West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s convoy at Salboni in Paschim Medinipur, sparked a full-blown Maoist-backed tribal movement against alleged police atrocities.

It resulted in the government launching, seven and a half months later, a massive security offensive to flush out rebels from the region.

Since then, several Maoist-supported tribal leaders have been arrested and more than 150 Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporters have died.

Today, though the security forces have successfully reclaimed various areas dominated by Maoists, the writ of the rebels still runs in numerous pockets of the region, thanks to the Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC), a Maoist front.

Director-General of Police Bhupinder Singh said that in spite of the murders, there was “considerable success” following the operation.

The decision to build up a specialised anti-Maoist force, on the lines of the Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh, would bolster the security operations.

Significant arrest

“Previously the Maoists almost liberated the zone such that no government machinery could function there. It could be re-established only after the operations started. We could also arrest several Maoist leaders in the meantime,” Mr. Singh said.

After the launch of the security offensive on June 18, one significant success is the arrest of the elusive PSBJC convener Chhatradhar Mahato, effected in an undercover operation on September 26. The PSBJC, however, seems undeterred by the setback, as it recently launched its military wing — Sidhu Kanu Gana Militia — to combat the security forces.

“We have no choice”

“We started off with a democratic movement and wanted to resolve all issues through dialogue with the State government. But even after a year, if both the Centre and the State government unleash terror on innocent villagers through the security forces in the name of flushing out Maoists, we are left with no choice other than opting for armed struggle,” Santosh Patra, a prominent PSBJC leader, told The Hindu on Monday over telephone from the Lalgarh area.

The police, however, rubbish the PSBJC claims. “The Maoists and the PSBJC are the same entity and the police have been saying so from the very beginning. It is only that they are publicly flaunting their military status,” Mr. Singh said.

He said various confidence-building measures like football matches were initiated to win back the people’s trust. “The response has been very good.”

However, “a major section of the media has become Maoist-centric and goes by their version of the story,” Mr. Singh said.

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