Suspected Maoists kill three CPI-M activists in Bengal


Kolkata : Three activists of West Bengal’s ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were shot dead Wednesday by suspected Maoists in the Jhargram area, close to the troubled town of Lalgarh, in what is seen as a sign of the rebels expanding their activities.

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Motorcycle-borne Maoists gunned down the three activists, including a zonal committee member of CPI-M’s student wing, Student’s Federation of India, in Jhargram subdivision of West Midnapore, police said.

This took place even as Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) reinforcements reached Lalgarh, an area 200 km from here, where the tribal body People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) spearheaded by the Maoists has established a virtual free zone.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has reportedly told the ruling Left Front partners that 500 Maoists – 100 of them fully trained in combat and 400 others semi-trained – had sneaked into Lalgarh from the neighbouring state of Jharkhand.

Laying down the blue print for the paramilitary forces, Bhattacharjee said as the ultras were now trying to expand their operations, the immediate effort would be to confine them to Lalgarh.

“We will test their patience. There will be no attacks on them immediately but once their (ultras’) patience wears thin, they are bound to attack and then the police and the CRPF will launch a counter attack,” a leader present at Wednesday’s Left Front meeting quoted the chief minister as saying.

However, speaking to a Bengali news channel over phone, a top Maoist leader Bikash – now camping in Lalgarh – threatened to “strongly resist” paramilitary forces if they were attacked.

Lalgarh has been on the boil since last November when a landmine exploded on the route of the convoy of Bhattacharjee and then central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada. Police arrested some school students and allegedly harassed tribal women following the landmine blast. In protest, angry tribals dug up roads, virtually cutting off the zone from the rest of the district. They also demanded a public apology from the police for the alleged excesses against them.

The area has witnessed continuous clashes between cadres of the ruling Left and the Maoists.