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West Bengal: Tribals take control of Lalgarh

June 16, 2009 00:04 IST
Two more Communist Party of India-Marxist cadres were found dead as pro-Naxal tribals, agitating against alleged police atrocities, on Monday torched three police camps and demolished house of a Marxist leader, virtually taking control of Lalgarh in West Midnapur district after forcing security forces to leave the area.

The police camps at Belatkri and Dharampur and the Ramgarh outpost in Lalgarh were wound up in the wake of apprehensions that tribals, who have launched an agitation under the banner of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities, may loot the arms, the police said.

The tribals later torched the Ramgarh police outpost as also police camps at Beratikri and Dharmapur. They also demolished a camp at Kaima from where the Central Reserve Police Force withdrew, the sources said.

The camps were ransacked before being torched, official sources said. With this the entire Lalgarh area came under the control of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities, as also most of the area under Salboni police station, they said.

Three bodies of CPI-M supporters who were killed at Dharmapur, were still lying there, bodies of two others reported missing were found at Salpatra, the sources said, adding that four Marxist supporters were still missing.

Tribals also demolished the palatial house of a CPI-M leader Anuj Pandey with crowbars and hammers at Lalgarh, the sources said, adding that Pandey had fled the site.

Tribals have launched a violent agitation against the police since November last year when West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and two then Union ministers Ramvilas Paswan and Jitindra Prasad narrowly escaped a landmine blast at Salboni in the district.

In Kolkata, the Chief Minister on Monday evaded queries on the situation in the restive district. "I know nothing about what you are saying," Chief Secretary Asok Mohan Chakraborty said.

Police chief Sujit Sarkar also refused to comment. Though Lalgarh was in the control of the tribals, the 40 to 50 police personnel at the police station were still there, but were not resisting the tribals, the sources said.

In the morning, a contingent of CRPF tried to go to Lalgarh, but were stopped by the tribals at Gherua. The CRPF personnel then entered a school building, but were compelled to leave when a mob of 2,500 tribals started demonstrating, the sources said.

The tribals allegedly went around 170 villages in Lalgarh area, threatening CPI-M partymen and supporters to leave for their own safety.

Meanwhile, a Maoist leader known as Bikash claimed that his outfit was leading the tribal agitation at Lalgarh. "Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is saying that we are providing support to the tribal movement and not actively participating. This is not true. We are actively in the movement and will continue to support it," Bikash, told PTI over phone.

Referring to the landmine blast at Salboni, Bikash said, "We failed." However, Chhatradhar Mahato, the leader of tribal platform PCAPA, reiterated that his organisation had no link with Maoists.

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