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Rebel terror prompts night curfew

Naoda (Murshidabad), Aug. 25: The administration of Naoda, from where 16 alleged People’s War rebels were picked up yesterday, has asked residents not to venture out on the streets after eight in the evening.

The move has prompted even Left Front partners to allege that the situation has become “worse than that in the 1972-73 period”. Local RSP leaders likened it to an “undeclared clamp-down of Section 144”.

Murshidabad superintendent of police Virendra said Naoda police picked up 16 suspected People’s War rebels last night. Three of them — Mansur Sheikh, Mohit Sheikh and Israil Sheikh — were detained for their “connection” with Dasgupta. The rest were set free, he said.

Former RSP MLA Jayanta Biswas accused police of terrorising people in the name of conducting searches for Naxalites. “The situation is worse than it was in 1972-73, when police used to pick up anyone in the name of thwarting Naxalite movements. Even RSP activists have been picked up because of their supposed People’s War links.”

Biswas said he would speak to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee about “police excesses” and added that party state secretary Debabrata Bandyopadhyay had already been informed of the situation. Local clubs and night-guards also raised allegations of “police excesses in the name of conducting raids”.

“Last night, police entered my house and assaulted me,” Kohinoor Bibi, wife of one of those arrested by the police, said. “How can my husband’s being a PW member be an offence'”

Virendra said security had been beefed up in the entire district, particularly in Naoda, in the wake of information that PW activists have camped in the area. But there was no question of “imposing 144 CrPC”, he said. “We have only asked the villagers to be more alert, especially during the night, as policemen are making raids at different places,” he added, assuring that allegations of “police excesses” would definitely be looked into.

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