Police firepower on rebel side

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  • Published 27.03.10

Midnapore, March 26: The 40-odd automatic rifles looted from the Eastern Frontier Rifles camp at Shilda are being used by Maoists to counter the offensive against them that the police launched yesterday, officers here said.

During police raids in the forests near Lalgarh in the past 36 hours, the guerrillas have apparently fired around 3,000 rounds.

“Never before have the police faced so many Maoist bullets in any operation against them,” said West Midnapore superintendent of police Manoj Verma. “My men saw them using self-loading rifles, Insas and AK-47 rifles. Unless they were using such automatic weapons, they could not have fired so many bullets at us.”

It is precisely these kinds of arms that were looted from Shilda along with 4,000 bullets.

The joint forces launched their biggest offensive against the Maoists in Bengal yesterday in the forests around Lalgarh, Pirakata, Dherua and Chandra. After a brief lull at night, the police resumed their operation this morning.

Although the police fired around 4,000 rounds and launched mortar attacks, no Maoist body was found when the forces combed the forest. “The Maoists are retreating every time we are moving forward,” said Verma. “We have not come across any bodies. They usually take away their dead comrades.”

Police sources said they had learnt about a couple of bodies lying deep inside the forest which they would venture into tomorrow.

However, in Jadavpur University, a section of students took out a procession and put up a roadblock after word spread that a former student-turned-Maoist was among those killed.

Verma said he had no such information. “We have not found a single body,” he insisted.

He said battling the Maoists had become more difficult after the Shilda incident. “They are now putting up a more determined resistance because of the new arms in their arsenal.”

According to the police, about 30 armed Maoists were holed up in the area they had cordoned off yesterday.

At Writers’ Buildings, inspector-general (law and order) Surajit Kar Purakayastha too said he was not aware of any deaths. “How can I confirm whether anyone has died in the absence of bodies?” he said.

Lalmohan Tudu, the leader of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities who was killed in police firing on February 23, was cremated by the police in Jhargram today as none of his family members had turned up to claim his body.