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Sun sets, campaign ends & comrades coop up

Lalgarh/Calcutta, March 6: About 48 hours after two CPM members were killed in Barikul and Lalgarh, the party advised local leaders not to campaign in Maoist territory after sundown.

Scared party leaders also asked key village-level functionaries not to stay at home at night till the elections are over.

'You assemble at a common place and spend the night there,' Tapan Dey, the CPM local committee secretary at Lalgarh in West Midnapore told comrades.

A band of CPI (Maoist) activists kidnapped nine CPM supporters at Harulia village in Lalgarh on Saturday night and set up a kangaroo court before executing party member Kartik Singha. They spared the eight others with a chilling message: 'Quit CPM or meet the same fate.'

Maoists again struck at Satnala in Bankura's Barikul, about 225 km from Calcutta, last night. CPM member Gatilal Tudu was stabbed to death.

The CPM today said statewide protest rallies would be held tomorrow.

Instructed by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, director-general of police S.C. Avasthy left for Purulia this evening. He will also visit the two places where the latest Maoists strikes took place.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that the Maoists had accused both Singha and Tudu of being police informers before killing them.

A state intelligence branch officer admitted that the duo's tips had helped the police arrest two extremists ' Khelaram Murmu and Baidyanath Hembram ' in the past year and a half.

'Kartik Singha used to go to Lalgarh police station and the Ramgarh police outpost frequently. Gatilal Tudu had a good rapport with the officers of Barikul police station,' a local CPM leader said.

'The arrests strengthened their suspicion.'

Another CPM activist of Lalgarh said Singha should have been alerted after the killing of intelligence branch constable Chunilal Maity in November 2004. 'He had a good relationship with Maity and used to pass on information about the Maoists' movement in the nearby jungles.'

Bhim Soren, who was tied to a eucalyptus tree after the kangaroo trial on Saturday, is still in trauma.

He has been living in the local party office since being freed by the police, who let him remain strapped by a wire for several hours thinking it was connected to a landmine.

Asked when he would return home, Bhim Soren said: 'I don't know. I will have to talk to my party leaders.'

A large police contingent headed by inspector-general (western range) Banibrata Basu combed the nearby forests today. No one, however, has been arrested.

Amiya Patra, the CPM's Bankura unit secretary, slammed the police.

'When the Maoists are carrying out one strike after another, the police are not doing anything to thwart them. The heavily-armed security forces cannot save themselves, how can they save us'

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