Lalgarh, West Bengal: West Bengal police today claimed partial victory after the state police and central security forces reclaimed Lalgarh area cut off for eight months by Maoists.
“It is a partial victory. The hundred per cent operation is yet to be completed. It may take days, even weeks to do this,” DIG (Midnapore Range) Praveen Kumar told an impromptu press conference outside the Lalgarh police station.
“We have an agenda to establish the rule of the law. Our next move will be to clear 42 villages in areas in Lalgarh from the agitators,” he said.
Though it normally takes two hours to reach Lalgarh from Midnapore, security forces took three days. “We moved with caution. We took measures not to risk the lives of ordinary people,” Kumar said.
On the areas declared ‘liberated´ by the agitators, he said, “the rule of the law is everywhere. There is no legal concept of a no-entry zone. No one is more powerful than the government.”
Asked about Chhatradhar Mahato, the leader of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities spearheading the tribal agitation since November last year, Kumar said he would be arrested.
“We will crack down on all against whom cases are pending,“ Kumar said.
On the strategy adopted in taking over Lalgarh, he said, “It is the tactical advantage of our forces. Our forces are a threat to the Maoists, not the people.”
Questioned about the action by security forces at Pirakata two days ago when teargas and lathis were used to demolish a human shield put up by the agitators, Kumar said “we will never like to attack anybody, but Maoists. But when human shields are put up something may have happened on the spur of the moment.
“Before arriving at Lalgarh we passed through villages where people said they wanted security from Maoists. We, the police, as friends of the people will provide them security,” he said.