Maoists torch CPI-M offices, shutdown hinders life in Bengal


Kolkata : Suspected Maoists torched offices of West Bengal’s ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) as normal life in rebel strongholds continued to be disrupted Tuesday on the second day of the shutdown against security operations in Lalgarh.

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Vehicular traffic kept off the streets, shops and markets were closed and people remained indoors in large parts of the three western districts – Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore – where the Maoists have a strong base.

In West Midnapore’s Jhargram area and Purulia’s Burrabazar, suspected guerrillas set afire and ransacked CPI-M party offices Monday night.

“In both cases, the miscreants left raising Maoists slogans,” said a police official.

Police and central forces were seen patrolling the roads with mine-protected vehicles in West Midnapore and Bankura districts.

“There is always a mixed impact to such shutdown calls. In parts of these districts, where the Maoists are active, daily normal life has suffered as people are in fear. But life is normal in parts where there are no rebels,” state Inspector General of Police (Western Range) Kuldip Singh told IANS over the phone.

However, some small shops, and a few buses are plying, he claimed.

He said there was no blockade in any of the areas.

The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has called for a 48-hour shutdown in West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand demanding that the clampdown by joint forces of the centre and state government in Lalgarh be withdrawn.

Central security personnel and West Bengal police started the operation to flush out Maoist rebels from the Lalgarh area of West Midnapore after the ultras teamed up with a tribal body People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) to establish a virtual free zone.

The rebels had torched police camps and offices of the state’s ruling communists, besides killing several of their party activists.