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Jhargram the new Maoist capital of Bengal?

December 22, 2009 11:41 IST

Maoists in West Bengal have apparently been shifting base from their strongholds in Lalgarh and Belpahari in the last two months, with killings and violence increasingly taking place in Jhargram subdivision, 40 km away in restive West Midnapore district. Police sources attribute this to the strong security presence in Belpahari and Lalgarh.

There are seven camps of the joint security forces in Lalgarh and nine in Belpahari while there are only three camps in Jhargram and one in Jamboni. Quoting statistics, the sources said, approximately 50 Communist Party of India - Marxist local leaders and supporters were killed near Jhargram in the last two months. However, there were no casualties in Lalgarh, which is considered a Maoist stronghold.

"As there are many camps of the joint forces in and around Belpahari and Lalgarh, Maoists are not able to operate there and they are shifting to areas around Jhargram," said a senior police officer.

"Maoists can slip away into Jharkhand (which is close to Jhargram) easily after committing a crime and it involves time and legal problems for the West Bengal police to follow them across the border," he said.

However, top Maoist leader Kishenji told PTI over phone, "We are not shifting base anywhere. We are always with the people. We will stand by the people anywhere."

Claiming the support of the people of Jhargram, Kishenji said, "The government should know that they cannot control us or the people through force."

Challenging the joint forces, he said, "We are at war with the state and we have our own strategy. The government is well equipped with police, central force and intelligence network. Let them catch us."

Jhargram hit the national headlines on October 20 when Maoists killed two police officers, Dibakar Bhattacharya and Swapan Roy of Sankrail police station, and took the officer-in-charge Atindranath Dutta hostage. On October 27, the red brigade detained the New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express for nearly eight hours.

On November 8, when Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was on a visit to the district, Maoists shot dead four personnel of the paramilitary Eastern Frontier Rifles at Gidhni, a police station in Jhargram.

Maoist also torched a deer park from where two black bucks are still missing and destroyed a huge amount of property including 25 trucks of a sponge iron factory, three oil tankers and trucks on NH6 in and around Jhargram recently.

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