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Plan for anti-Maoist drive

Calcutta, Aug. 10: The Mamata Banerjee government is planning a fresh offensive against the Maoists in Jungle Mahal in collaboration with police from adjoining Odisha and Jharkhand, Bengal director-general of police Naparajit Mukherjee said today.

“A meeting was held between the IGs of Bengal and Jharkhand. There are plans to start operations but I cannot divulge details,” Mukherjee said.

His comments came two days after the chief minister said at a rally in Belpahari that she had reports that Maoists were entering Bengal from Jharkhand and Odisha.

Sources said groundwork for the joint operations was being done for over a month. The operations could begin in late August, they said.

The sources said the trigger behind the plan to renew the operations was inputs from the Intelligence Branch that Maoist leaders from Jharkhand and Odisha were entering Jungle Mahal. According to the inputs, most of these leaders leave after holding meetings.

“IG (western range) Gangeswar Singh held a meeting with M.S. Bhatia, his counterpart in Jharkhand, in mid-July to discuss the inputs. The DIGs of both states met a few days after the meeting,” a senior officer said.

The sources said that in Bengal, the operations would be held in areas under three police stations — Bandwan in Purulia and Belpahari and Binpur in West Midnapore. In Jharkhand, the operations will be conducted in areas under six police stations and in Odisha, three.

Senior officers keeping track of Maoist activities in Jharkhand have been reportedly asked to prepare for operations in Ghatshila, Dhalbhumgarh, MGM, Kamalpur and Chakulia.

All the areas in the neighbouring states where the operations will be conducted are near the Bengal border.

The sources said top officers of the CRPF and the Counter Insurgency Force had been asked to “be prepared”.

“There are inputs that two Maoist couples, Shyamal-Rekha and Madan-Jaba, are active in Belpahari and Bandwan. In Jharkhand, senior squad leaders Paresh and Suman are trying to regroup. In Odisha, Sabyasachi Panda has been expelled by the CPI (Maoist) central committee and a new leader has replaced him,” a police officer said.