Raktima Bose

KOLKATA: Even as the joint operation launched by the security forces to flush out Maoists from the Lalgarh region in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district completed a month on Saturday, a local leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was shot dead by suspected Maoists at Andharishol, 20 km from Lalgarh.

Jaladhar Mahato, a resident of Jhargram, was a member of the CPI(M)’s Jhargram zonal committee.

72-hour bandh

Chhatradhar Mahato, convener of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC), has called for a 72-hour bandh in the three Maoist-hit districts of Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia from July 19.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was in Bankura on Saturday, was slated to go to Purulia next.

Mahato still in hiding

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from his hideout in the Lalgarh area, Mr. Mahato sounded confident about the success of Sunday’s bandh which was called in protest against “police atrocities on innocent villagers in the name of arresting Maoists.”

‘Prelude’

Mr. Mahato said: “Calling the 72-hour bandh is a prelude to the greater movement that the PSBJC will launch if the State government fails to stop the police from harassing innocent people.”

His confidence has been boosted following the partial success of a similar 24-hour bandh observed by the PSBJC on July 8.