Midnapore, Dec 5: In another daring strike in the Naxalite hotbed of West Midnapore, CPM leaders were thrashed, forest bungalows blasted and vehicles used for building roads set on fire last night.
Senior police officers, including deputy inspector-general, Midnapore range, Gangeswar Singh, and superintendent of police Ajay Nanda rushed to Kankrajhore in Belpahari, about 240 km from Calcutta, this morning.
Among the CPM men assaulted were Kailash Mura, a member of the Belpahari panchayat samiti, and Banamali Mura, the secretary of the party's Kankrajhore committee.
Kailash had brought into focus 'starvation' deaths in neighbouring Amlashol, which embarrassed the government and left the CPM red-faced.
Police said about 70 to 80 people, who were in army fatigues and armed with rifles, spears and sharp weapons, arrived around 8 pm in groups of 10 or 12 in front of Banamali Mura's house.
A camp office of a construction company had been set up in his house and there were many people, including CPM supporters and labourers. Work on a 12.5-km road is on in the area under the Prime Minister's Gram Sadak Yojna and three vehicles, including a road-roller and dumper, were lined up outside.
'The rebels shouted slogans, distributed leaflets and pasted posters. Then they ordered those inside Banamali's house to come out. A driver was asked to park the vehicles close to each other. They sprinkled diesel and set them on fire,' said the district police chief.
The labourers were then asked to leave. The CPM leaders and their supporters were identified. Some of them had to be dragged out from their hiding inside the house. Eight people, including Banamali and Kailash, were lined up and hit with rifle-butts, lathis and rods. The guerrillas also kicked them with their boots.
At the end of the torture, three men lay unconscious.
Some of the labourers, who watched the incident in fear, ran into a nearby jungle scared. When they did not return till morning, there was a rumour that they had been kidnapped. Nanda said: 'We checked and found that no one was abducted.'
The attackers, identified as members of the CPI(Maoist) ' formed by the merger of the People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre ' by their posters and leaflets, then visited two forest bungalows at the foot of a hill and one on top and burst bombs. The police said all the bungalows were heavily damaged.
An officer said the CPM leaders were asked to wind up party offices and stop the work on the roads. Kailash and Banamali were accused of nexus with the contractors.
State CPM secretary Anil Biswas said in Calcutta the incidents proved that the Naxalites were opposed to development. 'So long they had been accusing the government of not undertaking development work in the tribal belt.'