"The way the incident took place yesterday doesn't suggest that it was planned and executed entirely by Maoists. They were definitely present during the incident, but they didn't participate," a source in the joint forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations in the district told PTI on condition of anonymity.
"The Maoists also provided covering fire when the joint forces were trying to go from Jhargram to the trouble spot, Banstala. Their intention was to resist us so that the tribal agitators could leave the spot safely," the source said.
The name of the People's Committee against Police Atrocities' armed wing, according to the district police, was 'Sidhu-Kanu Gana Militia'. The militia, according to them, derived the name from Sidhu Murmu and Kanu Murmu who had led the Santhal rebellion (1857-1858) against the British and were later caught and executed.
Maoist leader Kishenji told PTI over phone, "We will provide strategic, technical and military support to the villagers so that they can combat the joint forces in West Midnapore successfully."
Kishneji also claimed that the arms looted from the Sankrail police station on October 20, when two police officers were shot dead and another, Atindranath Dutta, was kidnapped, would be distributed to villagers.
The first operation of the new group was 'Operation Marang' as a counter against 'Operation Green Hunt' launched by the joint forces, PCPA spokesperson Asit Mahato said.
Asked whether holding up of the prestigious train for several hours was part of the operations by the new group, he replied, "As long as Operation Green Hunt continues, it will continue."
He also claimed that ten 9 mm pistols seized from the Communist Party of India-Marxist cadres at Kadasole were in the possession of the PCPA's armed wing.
"This is the beginning. We will gather strength in the days to come," he said. When asked why Maoists were supporting the PCPA armed wing when in the past they had declared they had no connection with it, Kishenji replied, "This is not a question of giving support to the PCPA. Wherever atrocities are committed against the common people we will stand beside them."