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Naxals use human shields in West Bengal

Last updated on: June 17, 2009 14:28 IST

With West Bengal Police virtually withdrawn in troubled areas in West Midnapore and adjoining districts, the Centre today asked the state government to deploy all its forces there while assuring it of providing more central forces if it is necessary.

The Home Ministry has advised the state administration to deploy its own forces in full strength as "maintaining law and order is primarily the responsibility of the state government", a Ministry official said.

"The central paramilitary forces have been sent only to assist the state police," the official said. The Centre also advised the West Bengal government to deploy the East Frontier Rifles, Special Armed Police and the regular armed police to deal with the situation arising out of Maoists and tribals virtually taking over some of the villages like Lalgarh. Three CPI(M) workers were also shot dead in Banksole in West Midnapore district today.

Around 1,300 central paramilitary forces have already deployed in the troubled areas while 300 more are on their way.

"We have kept ready some more central forces to be sent to West Bengal if necessary," the official said. Of the 1,300 deployed forces, 700 have been deployed in West Midnapore district, 300 in Purulia and 100 in Bankora.

At least 200 additional forces have reached West Bengal yesterday and 300 more will be reaching today. Maoists put up a shield With paramilitary forces planning a crackdown on Maoists who have laid siege to two police station areas in West Midnapore district, tribals backing them have put up a three-tier human shield.

Maoists put up a shield

"The Maoists have formed a three-tier human shield with women and children in the vanguard, men behind them and armed Naxals forming the rearguard," a senior police official involved in the drawing up strategies against the agitators told PTI here.

The police have withdrawn from camps fearing looting of arms with the tribals under the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities demolishing and torching empty camps in the past few days, he said.

Maoist action squad leader, known as Bikash, and his men were patrolling roads between Lalgarh and Belpahari armed with AK47s, he said.

Last night the tribals set ablaze CPI(M) party offices in Lalgarh and Belatikri and dug up roads leading to Lalgarh from Dharampur, Goaltore and Pirakata to prevent entry of central forces.

The digging up of roads and felling of trees was a tactic deployed since November last year by the tribals when they went on the warpath after police raids on their homes.
 

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