The ruling Left Front has given the go ahead to the state government to crack down against the Naxalites in Lalgarh and its adjacent areas in West Midnapur. The Naxalites have literally taken control of Lalgarh after police forces were withdrawn from that area on the face of social boycott by the tribals there led by the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities. In the last one week, the Naxalites have killed at least 10 CPI(M) workers, ransacked and put on fire a number of houses belonging to the CPI(M) activists and party offices. The attack on the life and properties CPI(M) workers continues unabated as three CPI(M) workers were killed by them in Lodhashuli, Jhargram and four more houses were ransacked today in Lalgarh.
But the government is willing to go slow with the operation as they have little or no local intelligence from the Naxalite-infested area. According to reliable sources, the government in its first phase of operation will like to restrict the Naxalites in that area and take measures to protect the neighboring areas like Garbeta and Shalboni from the Maoists infiltration. Since the police has been withdrawn from Lalgarh, it will take some time to build the information gathering network there. The Central forces, of which five companies have already arrived in the state, will require some time to gather information before they can make any move. So, the police action in Lalgarh will be taken in the second phase of the operation. The state home secretary Ardhendu Sen and the DG of state police Sujit Sarkar have gone to Midnapur today to make an on the spot assessment of the situation there.
The chief minister has briefed the CPI(M) secretariat last night and the Left Front leaders today of the latest developments there and told that there are at least 500 Maoists active in Lalgarh area. In the last four-five months they have consolidated their position there taking advantage of the police inactivity. They have also recruited and trained a number of local people to take up arms against the administration. Now they have threatened to spread their influence in adjacent Salboni and Garbeta. Chhatradhar Mahato, the leader of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities, has announced that on June 19 they would hold a major rally at Garbeta. The intention is clear. From the rally they will give a call for the attack on the CPI(M) party office there. So, the first major test for the government will be to stop them from doing it without spilling blood. There were some discussions in yesterday’s CPI(M) secretariat meeting about the possible fall out of the police operation. But, finally, the party was agreed on that issue as there is no scope for fighting them politically there. Biman Bose, the state secretary of CPI(M), admitted today, “Our cadres and workers have left the area. Then, how could we fight the Maoists politically? The government will have to act now.”
The government has asked for more paramilitary forces from the centre and got assurance to that effect. The Jharkhand government has been alerted and some sort of coordination cell is about to be established with them. Till the additional central force arrive here and the information gathering network is activated, the state administration will continue the holding operation in restricting the Naxalites in their area.
But, the problem of tackling the growing attack elsewhere on the CPI(M) workers remains unresolved. Most of these attacks are spearheaded by the main opposition TMC. Biman Bose claimed today that in some places the Congress workers joined the TMC activists in attacking the Left. There is a growing demand from the party rank and file that the government must do something to put a stop to that. Unfortunately, the political reality is not favouring the government to crack down on the opposition. On June 28, altogether 17 municipalities and corporations including Siliguri, Asansol and Dum Dum will go to poll. Of these 28, nine municipalities are presently under control of the Left. Going by the current mood of the people, the Left apprehends a repeat of Lok Sabha election result this time.