Three-pronged attack

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By AMIT UKIL AND NARESH JANA
  • Published 20.06.09
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June 19: Central and state forces have together started a three-pronged attack on Lalgarh, gearing up for a simultaneous final assault likely to take place any time in the next 48 hours, police sources said.

The operation against the Maoists in Lalgarh kicked off from the south yesterday when the forces re-occupied a stretch of 8km from Pirakata to Bhimpur.

With most of the regions west of Lalgarh comprising difficult terrain — dense jungles and hills — the forces’ approach to Lalgarh will be from the three other sides. The movement through Pirakata is now at Bhimpur village, 9km from Lalgarh.

In the east, the forces today started moving in from Goaltore, 25km from Lalgarh. The supporters of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities had barricaded the route and the forces were involved in clearing or bypassing these till early afternoon. “Several places on the road to Lalgarh from Goaltore had been dug up or blocked with tree trunks,” said an officer on the drive from the east.

About 500 personnel of the State Armed Police (Straco), Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) and combat forces led by Burdwan additional superintendent Humayun Kabir and Malda additional superintendent Shyam Singh moved 6km from Goaltore today.

At night, the force was camping at Tinboni village, the capture of which took time as about 400 committee supporters stood at the entry point.

Reinforcements arrived around 3pm and the forces overran Tinboni wielding canes. But once they came near Tinboni High School, where about 3,000 villagers had taken refuge, a barrage of arrows shot from rooftops greeted them.

The jawans entered several homes and detained 10 people, including a woman. “We had to tackle stones as well but finally the attacks were quelled by 5pm,” said a police officer.

Members on both sides suffered injuries.

The march from Goaltore got stuck on the brink of a ground between Tinboni and Kadashole, where armed committee supporters had gathered.

“We don’t know how many there are on the field and in Kadashole village, which is why we have halted here for the day,” said Sital Sarkar, the magistrate from Midnapore in whose presence the advance is taking place.

The third approach, from the north, began from Sarenga in Bankura last evening when the police used batons to dis- perse committee supporters who had assembled for a rally at a bazaar.

“We arrested 15 committee members in that operation,” said Bankura police chief Vi-shal Garg, who is stationed at Sarenga.

“We have tried to subdue any possible opposition to the force’s progress. The personnel are now preparing to enter the Lalgarh region,” he added.

However, the march from the north had to halt at Kargil More, 15km from Sarenga and 3km before Bejdanga, because a bridge over a drain had been damaged by the committee.

The forces from the north comprise a company (of about 100 personnel) of CRPF jawans and several contingents of the EFR and Straco.