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‘Maoist hand’ in Loba
Villagers use rebel training to fight police

Loba (Birbhum), Nov. 7: Maoists had taught villagers to organise an “early warning system” that was used yesterday when police approached Loba, sources in the state intelligence branch said today.

The system consists of a “watch party” on night vigil and battery-operated loudspeakers to alert the villagers about the impending arrival of cops.

The Maoists also trained the villagers in self-defence, much like they had done in Lalgarh, such as using bows and arrows.

Although Loba does not have a high tribal population like Lalgarh, many people allegedly attacked the police with bows and arrows yesterday.

Intelligence officials and Maoist sources said the rebels began making inroads into Loba and adjoining villages in 2009, around the time DVC-Emta started buying land there for a mining project.

Having tasted success in Singur and Nandigram, the Maoists encouraged the villagers to demand higher prices for their land, the officials said.

“Trinamul helped set up the Krishi Jami Raksha Committee but the Maoists worked their way into the villages,” an official said. “When the Mamata Banerjee government came to power, Trinamul distanced itself from the committee but the Maoists stayed on.”

The officials said that when the new government turned the heat on the Maoists, especially before and after the killing of Kishan in November last year, the rebels left the area. But by then, the defence mechanism the rebels had set up was in place and was put to use by Loba residents when the police arrived yesterday at 4am, the officials said.

The officials said the watch party used battery-operated loudspeakers at the camp office of the committee yesterday.

As the police approached the village to seize a DVC-Emta earth-mover that the villagers had held back, about 3,000 residents assembled with bows, arrows and bombs. They fought a pitched battle with the police in which over 30 people were injured, most of them cops.

Nakul Akure, a youth from nearby Palashdanga village, said: “Our defence mechanism worked well because the watch party was alert. Seven villagers announced over the loudspeakers that the police were approaching.”

The police came to know about the Maoist presence in Loba after the arrest of Barun Sur, a state committee member of the CPI (Maoist) who was assigned the task of spreading the organisation’s network in Birbhum, the intelligence officials said.