Mixed response on day two of pro-Maoists’ shutdown call


Kolkata : The indefinite shutdown called by the Maoist-backed People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) in three West Bengal districts against alleged atrocities by the joint security forces evoked partial response on the second day Wednesday.

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The police said the shutdown had an impact in Jhargram and its peripheral areas of West Midnapore district, Barikul and Ranibandh in Bankura district, but Purulia district remained unaffected.

However, schools and colleges functioned normally as educational institutions were kept out of the purview of the shutdown called by the PCAPA, which also demanded immediate withdrawal of the joint forces deployed to combat Maoists.

Locals said shops were closed and vehicular traffic remained off the road in Jhargram in West Midnapore district.

Superintendent of Police Manoj Sharma admitted that the shutdown hit normal life in Jhargram, but only partially.

“Some shops were closed in Jhargram sub-division, particularly in Jhargram town. Some vehicles were plying. And compared to the impact such calls evoked in earlier months, the situation is better this time.

“In October, November and December whenever they (the Maoists or PCAPA) gave such calls, there would be no traffic on the roads, and all shops would remain closed,” Verma told IANS.

Jhargram was, however, tense after four vehicles belonging to the state health department were set afire by PCAPA activists Tuesday night.

Armed motorcycle-borne PCAPA activists stopped the vehicles and set them ablaze after asking the drivers and helpers to get down.

Bankura police superintendent Bishal Garg said the situation was peaceful in the district with no report of any untoward incidents, but the response to the shutdown call was mixed.

Fewer vehicles plied in Maoist pockets like Ranibandh and Barikul.

The shutdown was the immediate fallout of a gun battle that broke out after the rebels attacked the Barikul police station Monday. Two women Maoists died and 11 people – eight policemen and three ultras – were injured. Eight people were arrested.

Purulia police superintendent Rajesh Yadav told IANS that the shutdown had no impact in the district.

PCAPA is a tribal body that is regarded by the police and authorities as a front of the Maoists.