Lalgarh, West Bengal: Security forces on Sunday surged deeper in Lalgarh to break the siege of 17 Maoist-held villages as the Union government warned of fresh violence during the 48-hour strike called by Naxals in five states starting from Monday.
A day after recapturing Lalgarh police station, troops consisting of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF) and West Bengal policemen started advancing towards Ramgarh for sanitizing the main road and other connecting routes and wresting control of the villages.
But the 19km journey from Lalgarh through dense forests is likely to be tough as the road is littered with mines.
Clearing operations: A mine disposal squad at work at Tinbani, on the way to Goaltor at Kadasol in Lalgarh on Saturday. Swapan Mahapatra / PTI
The strategy of the forces will focus on wresting control of Barapelia, Chotopelia and Dalilpurchak in West Midnapore district where top Maoist leaders, including Koteshwar Rao, were suspected to be holed up, senior police officers engaged in the operation said.
Maoist-backed People’s Committee against Police Atrocity (PCPA) convener Chatradhar Mahato resides in Barapelia, which also also houses PCPA headquarters.
In New Delhi, Union home minister P. Chidambaram issued a statement describing the situation in Lalgarh as “tense” and asked politicians, people and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to keep away from the conflict area.
“The situation in Lalgarh is sensitive and continues to be tense besides CPI (Maoist) call for a bandh tomorrow (Monday),” he said.
The Union home ministry also issued an alert to Naxal-hit states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal, where Maoists have given the call for the strike.
Intelligence inputs have suggested that the CPI (Maoist) may indulge in demonstrative acts of violence by targeting security forces and economic infrastructure such as trains, buses, railway and bus stations and other places where people are likely to gather in significant numbers.
Meanwhile, the Left parties have sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to ensure that anti-Maoist operations in Lalgarh were not “adversely complicated” by statements and actions of Union ministers.
Without naming Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, 16 Left members of Parliament wrote to Singh maintaining that some members of the Union council of ministers were reportedly proceeding to the affected areas and making public comments “which are adversely complicating the operations against the Maoists”.