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Maoist claims Lalgarh presence

July 19: The presence of 50 companies of security forces has apparently done little to scare away the Maoist guerrillas from Lalgarh.

In a telephone interview with The Telegraph, rebel leader Bikash said he was moving around freely in the area with his comrades. “We are very much in Lalgarh. How can we leave the poor and deprived in the face of state oppression?”

The man who has been overseeing the outlawed outfit’s Lalgarh movement had emerged in front of the media with an AK-47 before the joint operation of central and state forces started on June 18.

He refused to speak on the whereabouts of Kishanji, the guerrilla squad chief who is believed to have fled the area after the forces moved in.

Bikash said he was speaking from the core area of Lal- garh and that the tribal people of the region were still with them. “The development work that the government has initiated after 32 years will not be able to erode our support base. People know what they are getting now is because of our movement,” he said. “The police haven’t been able to arrest any one of our comrades yet.”

Bikash issued a warning to CPM leaders. “We will continue wiping out the corrupt CPM men. They have changed their class and earned lakhs at the cost of poor people’s tears. They will have to pay for this.”

Six CPM men have been killed in the region since the forces moved in. A leader was shot dead in Jhargram yesterday and a supporter in Goaltore.

Pritam Mullick, the deputy chief of the Manikpara gram panchayat in Jhargram, today pasted posters in the village saying he was “severing all links with my party”.

His name had featured on a Maoist hit list circulated yesterday.

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