Police for action in Lalgarh, poll panel suggests dialogue


Kolkata : The West Bengal government Monday said that it would carry out police action in tribal-dominated Lalgarh to flush out Maoist guerrillas before the Lok Sabha polls but the state chief electoral officer (CEO) called for dialogue to resolve the impasse.

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A day after the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), formed by the agitating tribals, threatened to put up mass resistance if the security forces tried to enter West Midnapore district’s Lalgarh area, state Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said the government was now working out the modalities of the police action.

“Even if the people of Lalgarh put up resistance, we will have to carry out police operation to hold the Lok Sabha elections there,” Sen told reporters at Barasat in Kolkata’s adjoining North 24-Parganas district.

“We are in the process of working out a proper method on how the police force will enter the region without causing any trouble to the common people. We will not clash with villagers there,” Sen said.

“Still, there is a group of armed people, more than 100 in number, active in Lalgarh. If they come in our way, we’ll have to clash with them during the police operation,” Sen added.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function, state CEO Debasish Sen said: “We are thinking about drawing up an alternative strategy to ensure impartial, peaceful and fair elections in Lalgarh April 30.”

Debasish Sen was responding to whether the Election Commission would accept the PCAPA’s proposal that the poll panel representatives approach them for security of polling officials.

“We can sit at the discussion table with all stakeholders,” said the CEO.

PCAPA leader Chatradhar Mahato said Sunday if they allow the police or the paramilitary forces to enter, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) hooligans will sneak into Lalgarh in the disguise of security forces.

The PCAPA has already put up two check-posts at Raigarh and Barotelia to prevent the police and activists of the CPI-M, the state’s main ruling party, from entering the area.

Trouble erupted in Lalgarh last November after the police arrested some school students and allegedly harassed tribal women following a landmine blast on the route of the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada near Bhadutala area.

Later, the tribals dug up roads, virtually cutting off the trouble-prone zone from rest of the district. They also demanded a public apology from the police for the alleged excesses against them. Lalgarh is some 200 km from here.