Raktima Bose

2 supporters of outfit allegedly detained on December 6

KOLKATA: The situation in the Lalgarh region of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district, it is feared, could take a bad turn from December 18 with the Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) threatening to launch an indefinite violent movement.

The PSBJC leadership has issued a 24-hour-deadline to the police for producing in court two of their supporters who were allegedly detained earlier this month, failing which they would be “forced to begin a violent movement in the three districts of Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia.”

Gun battle

Meanwhile, a suspected Maoist, Chunaram Murmu was arrested by the police following a brief gun battle between the security forces and the extremists at Parulia village in the Salboni sub-division on Wednesday.

The PSBJC supporters, Raju Adak and Joydeb Bera, were allegedly picked up by the Lalgarh police late on December 6 and could not be traced by their family members since.

“We fear that both the men have been killed in police custody. Though the inspector-in-charge of the Lalgarh thana has assured us to produce them in court on December 24, we are not convinced,” Asit Mahato, spokesperson of the PSBJC, told The Hindu over telephone on Wednesday.

‘No alternative’

Mr. Mahato added: “We demand their production in court within the next 24 hours. If they fail to do so, the PSBJC supporters will set ablaze any vehicle that plies in the three districts from December 18. We will have no alternative.”

Superintendent of police Manoj Kumar Verma, however, said that the two persons were not in police custody.

“They were not picked up by the police in the first place. I have spoken to the inspector-in-charge of Lalgarh thana and he said that the police have not promised any production date…maybe this is one of the tactics adopted by the Maoists in order to create unrest,” Mr. Verma alleged.

Increase in violence

For the past six months, since the joint operation was launched in the region in June to flush out the Maoists, killings, gunfights between the ultras and the security forces, bandhs and blockades have been a regular feature.

Even after the arrest of a few PSBJC leaders, including its convener Chhatradhar Mahato, and the increased strength of security force personnel with the arrival of six more companies of Central forces, violence has only escalated with more than 70 persons killed.

The current concern regarding Maoist activities in the region is that incidents of landmine blasts and gunfights are shifting closer to Midnapore from the interior forested areas. The recent incidents of landmine explosions killing security personnel and PSBJC supporters’ violent demonstrations outside the Satpati and Pirakata police camps, about 15 km from the Midnapore town, indicate the trend.