Lalgarh (West Bengal) : High on confidence after steam-rolling the Maoist resistance to reach Lalgarh, security forces Saturday threw a challenge to the leftwing rebels in West Bengal saying “We have surprises in store for them”.
Soon after establishing a base camp at the Lalgarh police station, on the third day of their operation to flush out the radicals, Deputy Inspector General (Midnapore range) of state police Praveen Kumar said the security forces would establish the rule of law in the entire troubled area.
The Maoists and the tribal body People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) have declared Lalgarh as a “liberated” zone and the police had kept themselves locked from inside for the last few months fearing their own security,
Kumar said the Maoists as well as the PCAPA leaders against whom there were cases would be arrested.
“Reaching Lalgarh is one part of the story. The remaining part has to be completed now. We now have a tactical advantage and that should not be lost. Our main objective is to see to it that the authority of the constitution, the state is restored by establishing the rule of law,” Kumar told a media conference at the Lalgarh police station.
Thanking the central forces for their tactical help in achieving the primary target of reaching Lalgarh, 200 km from Kolkata, he said: “Our forces launched a 36-hour non-stop operation. They have even been sleeping on the road.”
The state and central forces, comprising the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force, launched Thursday the operation to flush out Maoists, who had established a virtual free zone in the area by torching police camps and setting afire and ransacking party offices of the state’s ruling Communists.
Kumar warned the Maoists that the forces would pay them back in the same manner if they were fired upon and the rebels would be put behind bars.
“If they fire on police, then if they have to be neutralised, we have to fire back… The central and state forces know the tactics of the guerrillas. There can be surprises, but we also have surprises for them,” the tough-talking police officer said.
Kumar said they have got help from the locals and many political parties who said they were so far supporting the PCAPA and Maoists out of fear.
On why it took the forces three days to reach Lalgarh, around 39 km from district headquarters Midnapore Town and about 20 km from the force’s starting point Pirakata, Kumar said: “It was a tactical decision”.
The security forces will now re-establish the administrative machinery in the villages, but ensure that lives of common people were not lost. “We would never like to attack anybody other than the Maoists. But when there are human shields against us, then some things happen on the spur of the moment. But we will show restraint as far as common people are concerned.”
On the landmine blast Friday in which two policemen were injured and the exchange of fire with the Maoists who attacked from the rear, Kumar said: “Our effort is whenever we have a forward position, we ensure a back supply. Yesterday’s thing will be looked into.”
He said the operation could take time as the security forces have to ensure that common people did not become victims.
The forces have visited roadside villages, where they found people, including the elderly and women, too afraid to talk. “We will instil in them confidence as their friends. We have to establish rapport with them.”