| On high alert
Midnapore, July 20: Bikash Roy, a CPM leader from Salboni in West Midnapore, had his seventh brush with the Maoists last night when his house was attacked.
The CPM local committee member was staying in another place when a dozen guerrillas arrived at his house in Bagpichla village, about 170 km from Calcutta, around 10.30 pm and asked him to come out. When he did not show up, they opened fire.
Two security guards shot back and the crossfire continued for over half an hour before the Maoists escaped into the darkness.
'We had been getting reports for the past few days that unknown people were assembling in the Parasia forest area near the neighbouring village of Asnaboni. I haven't been staying in my house at night for the last nine months. I stay at a safe place in the village with my security guards and three or four other party workers,' Roy said.
The CPM leader said he saw two motorcycles arriving. Two men dropped their pillion riders, sporting olive green fatigues, and sped away.
'At least eight to 10 more armed and masked guerrillas emerged from the forest' and joined them. 'I was in a different house and watched through a window. They called my name and banged on the door of my house with the butts of their guns. I called my wife on her mobile phone and alerted her,' he said.
Roy's wife Kalpana said that as soon as she received her husband's call, she and the other women in the house started blowing conch shells to raise an alarm.
'They were trying to smash the door with their guns. Some of them hurled abuses and threatened us that if we didn't open the door, they would set the house on fire and burn us alive,' she added.
Members of the village resistance group heard the noise and arrived at Roy's house. Armed with bows and arrows, they joined the encounter.
This was the seventh attempt on Roy's life by the Maoists in the last six years.
The CPM leader had the closest shave with death in 2003, when a group of rebels shot at him while he was returning home on his motorcycle. A bullet got stuck in his abdomen and the Maoists left, giving him up for dead.
After this incident, Roy was provided two security guards. Since then, there have been two more attacks on his house, but he was saved 'as he was not at home and was sleeping in another house' on both occasions, a police officer said.
The police are probing whether last night's strike was to avenge the arrest of a Maoist worker from Belpahari two days ago.