The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Forests come alive with rebel-hunters' flares
3000-strong force on prowl

July 11: The night sky lit up by flares, police teams trudged deep into the forests of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore last night looking for Naxalites.

About 3,000 policemen and paramilitary personnel have scanned 1,500 sq km in search of the rebels who killed three CPM leaders on Saturday and left a bag full of explosives that claimed a police officer hours later. But the hunt, despite all the razzmatazz, has drawn a blank.

A still silence today shrouded Majhgeria village in Bankura and Dulukdihi in Purulia, which witnessed the bloody assaults.

The police, who had yesterday detained two villagers from Dulukdihi ' Mansaram Singh and Madhusudan Singh ' arrested them tonight. Both had been put behind bars in 2003 in connection with the killing of Nilmadhab Das, the officer-in-charge of Bandwan police station.

Das was killed in a shootout with the rebels that followed a landmine blast in which a vehicle of his convoy was blown up in a Purulia forest.

Bengal police today urged their Jharkhand counterparts to cooperate in conducting joint raids to plug escape routes.

Last night's raids were supervised by inspector-general (western range) Anil Kumar, DIG (Midnapore range) Gangeswar Singh and the superintendents of the three districts known to be Naxalite infested.

'We will continue our raids for the next few days,' said R. Shivkumar, the Purulia superintendent of police.

His Bankura counterpart, K. Jayaraman, said the police are also on the lookout for some people who have been on the wanted list for some time. 'We have not, however, detained anyone for interrogation in Bankura yet.'

The Naxalites had gunned down CPM leaders Raghunath Murmu and Bablu Mudi at Majhgeria in Bankura's Barikul and Mahendra Murmu, their party colleague, at Dulukdihi in Bandwan.

The officer-in-charge of Barikul police station, Prabal Sengupta, was killed as the bag of explosives blew up in his face when he went to investigate the killings there.

Director-general of police S.C. Avasthy visited the scenes of Saturday's bloodshed yesterday. He was accompanied by inspector-general (western range) Anil Kumar.

CID officers, too, have reached the area with forensic experts to examine the remains of the black leather-and-canvas bag carrying the explosives.

Officials said the nature of the explosion proved that the bag, which Sengupta had tried to unzip, contained powerful ammuntion.

A 12-hour CPM-sponsored bandh in protest against the killing of party leaders crippled the Khatra subdivision of Bankura. The party also observed a statewide protest day.

The issue rocked the Assembly with the Trinamul Congress and the Congress walking out after Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim refused to accept their adjournment motions seeking a discussion on the government's inability to stem the spurt in rebel activities. The Opposition also took on Writers' Buildings for the police's 'intelligence failure'.

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