Initial phase of inter-State joint operation over

Raktima Bose

KOLKATA: The initial phase of inter-State joint operations between West Bengal and Jharkhand to flush out Maoists from the region and re-establish administration in a zone that was considered out of bounds has come to an end, a senior official of West Bengal Police said here on Friday.

Pointing out that such a security operation that involves Central para-military forces comprises several phases, Surajit Kar Purakayastha, the State's Inspector-General of Police (Law and Order), told The Hindu that “one of the initial phases is over” after five days of intense operations. Mr. Kar Purakayastha, however, said the operations would “continue according to the situations and circumstances” and added that the focus now will be on policing the reclaimed areas.

Meanwhile, a suspected Maoist named Anup Lohar was arrested by the Bankura district police late on Thursday from the Simlipal forest area. District Police Superintendent Vishal Garg said that following a specific tip-off, security personnel rounded up the place where Mr. Lohar was hiding for the past few days. “An improvised firearm and several rounds of ammunition were recovered from him. It seemed he was on the run following the security offensive launched a few days back,” Mr. Garg said.

The thrust of the first phase of the joint operation was to secure the difficult hilly terrain that lies on the border of the two States – in Purulia district in West Bengal and East Singbhum district in Jharkhand – that was so long used as safe passage as well as haven by the Maoists. In the absence of any considerable security system along this terrain, the Maoists had set up several training camps there. Some of these camps were destroyed by the security forces in the first few days of the operation. According to a police source, the idea behind the operation is to secure the inter-State border areas first and then launch an all-out offensive against the Maoists.