NATIONAL

Tribal stir: parts of West Bengal still inaccessible

Marcus Dam

The State administration has ruled out deployment of force

KOLKATA: Parts of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district continued to remain virtually inaccessible on Thursday in the face of the on-going agitation by a section of the predominantly tribal population there protesting against alleged police excesses in the region.

The protests have spread to parts of the adjoining Bankura district.

Roads leading to Lalgarh – considered an area where Maoists have a presence – have been dug up. There were reports of fresh roadblocks being set up in and around the area as well as in certain predominantly tribal areas of Bankura. The situation was reviewed at a meeting of senior State and police officials at the State Secretariat here.

The agitation has been continuing for close to a fortnight. Leaders of different tribal groups have set up a “people’s committee” against alleged police atrocities that is at the vanguard of the protests.

Though concerned at the developments, the State administration has ruled out any immediate deployment of force to restore normality in the affected areas. It has instead expressed its willingness for further talks with those involved in a bid to break the impasse.

Commenting on an invitation by the protestors to the local authorities for talks in Dalilpur in Lalgarh on Friday, the State’s Home Secretary, Ashok Mohan Chakravarty, said that while the administration is keen to hold discussions with them it was not always possible to go to far away areas that remain cut off from the rest of the district.

Mr. Chakravarty, who had met with a section of the tribal leadership in Medinipur on Wednesday, has reiterated that action will be taken against any policeman found guilty of committing excesses on the local people in the course of conducting raids to track down those responsible for the blast.

The State government has, however, ruled out the release of those against whom specific charges have been framed in connection with the incident as well as withdrawing police camps from the region.

The State committee of the CPI (M) has, in two statements made so far this week, affirmed its support to the protestors as have both the Trinamool Congress and Congress leadership.The Maoists have also demanded a public apology from the Chief Minister for the alleged police excesses on the local people in parts of the Jhargram sub-division of Paschim Medinipur district.

Corrections and Clarifications

The last paragraph of a report "Tribal stir: parts of West Bengal stillinaccessible" was "The State committee of the CPI (M) has, in two statementsmade so far this week, affirmed its support to the protestors as have boththe Trinamool Congress and Congress leadership. The Maoists have alsodemanded a public apology from the Chief Minister for the alleged policeexcesses on the local people in parts of the Jhargram sub-division ofPaschim Medinipur district." The CPI (M) is the accepted abbreviation forthe Communist Party of India (Marxist) and not the Communist Party of India(Maoist). It was an editing error.

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