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Since 1st March, 1999
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Lalgarh phase II a flop: Govt

Calcutta, Aug. 6: The state government today admitted its failure to contain or flush out Maoists in the second phase of Operation Lalgarh, begun five weeks ago after the Phase I “area domination”.

Home secretary Ardhendu Sen said he met top police officers today “to assess our achievements and failures” in Lalgarh, following a nudge from a “concerned” chief minister. He said the meeting discussed how to deploy the paramilitary to “achieve maximum results’’. “Almost every day, Maoists are killing or abducting people. Our target was to arrest the Maoists or flush them out of Lalgarh and adjoining areas. But current incidents show there hasn’t been any improvement…. We haven’t been able to arrest any top Maoist leader,” Sen said. “We will meet again on August 13.”

Asked why Chhatradhar Mahato, leader of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, was at large, Sen said: “It’s not that we cannot arrest him; he will be arrested.”

Government and CPM sources said the “drying up” of the police intelligence network had left the force clueless about the Maoists’ whereabouts or movement.

This, they said, resulted from two factors. By killing CPM leaders and supporters — the police’s main sources of information — the Maoists had ensured that the rest did not pass any more information to the police.

The second factor was the police’s inability to win over villagers in Maoist strongholds like Belpahari.

“In the run-up to the crackdown (Phase I), many Maoists had shifted from Belpahari to Lalgarh to build up resistance there,” an official said. “Many many CPM leaders who had fled Belpahari then returned and tipped the police off about those who had sheltered the rebels for the past few years.”

The police then unleashed terror, driving people out of villages and back into the Maoists’ arms. These villagers passed on information about the “CPM informers” to the Maoists, who went about killing them. This is why the police cannot do without the central forces even to hold on to the “area of domination”.

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