Jayanta Ghosh, Lalgarh, 18 June : The battle to reclaim Lalgarh begun on Thursday. The final warning was given to protesting villagers to disperse. But the crowds were in no mood to give in, forcing the soldiers to fire tear gas shells. The first barricade was broken and then there seemed to be no halt to the march to Lalgarh.
After trying to calm the situation without force for 3 days, the West Bengal government on Thursday finally launched a counter offensive against the Maoists. Their objective: to end the siege, to get control of Lalgarh - where Maoists have gone on a rampage targeting CPI(M) cadres and leaders, destroying their homes and party offices and setting up barricades to block police entry. It will be a tough battle with human barricades and the route strewn with huge felled trees. Says a villager: "We will not allow the security forces to pass. They cannot drive over our bodies." After search operations and warnings, the soldiers move on. But at Pirakata village the security forces run into gunfire. After a taut operation which lasted almost 30 minutes several arms are seized and at least 7 persons arrested. Dusk brought the operation to a halt. Separately, rebel leader Kishanji told Bengal Newz in a telephone interview that the federal and state governments should stop troops from entering the area. He said the government should hold meetings with the local people to learn about their grievances.
The security forces are camping at Pirakata on Thursday night. A night that promises to be tense with reports of villagers planning to surround the camp. Lalgarh is still 12 kilometres away. န Photo : Arpan Mukherjee
Kolkata Knight Riders fire Buchanan after dismal IPL show
BBC Sports News, 18 June : Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday sacked controversial Australian coach John Buchanan after their poor performance in the recent Indian Premier League.
The Kolkata team finished last in the eight-team IPL in South Africa last month, losing 10 of their 14 league matches. "Buchanan has informed Knight Riders that despite his hard work over the past two seasons, he has not achieved everything that he set out to," KKR co-owner Jay Mehta said in a statement. READ MORE
Security forces begin Crackdown ops to free Lalgarh
< Security forces attend a briefing before heading to a violence-hit area at Pirakata.
Lalgarh, 18 June : Security forces moved into the restive Lalgarh region on Thursday to end the three-day siege of Maoists, who have gone on a rampage targeting CPI(M) cadres and leaders, destroying their homes and party offices and setting up barricades to block police entry.
"Operation at Lalgrah has started this morning. The operation will be mainly done by the state police but we will be adequately assisted by the Central forces," West Bengal Director General of Police Sujit Kumar Sarkar told Bengal Newz. Asked about the number of forces deployed, Sarkar said the details cannot be divulged 'right now'. "But there are adequate (state) forces to restore peace and normalcy in the area. The CRPF will give adequate back up and if needed they will actively participate," he said over phone from Kolkata.
Agitating tribals of West Midnapore and adjoining areas have been protesting police "atrocities" on them in the wake of the landmine blast at Salboni which was believed to target the Chief Minister. The tribals, numbering 2000 under the banner of People's Committee Against Police Atrocities, dug up roads amid reports that they were laying landmines to stop the security forces.
"We will try to shed minimum blood," Sarkar said adding I cannot tell you the exact timeframe (of the operation)." Five hundred CRPF personnel, including 200 personnel of the elite COBRA trained in anti-Naxal operations, have been deployed to deal with the situation. န Photos : Arpan Mukherjee
25 Manipuri children rescued from Howrah station
Howrah, 18 June : Twenty-five Manipuri children, three of them girls, were rescued from Howrah station and three of their escorts held in an early morning swoop, railway police sources said today.
An RPF team raided two sleeper coaches of DN Guwahati-Bangalore Express as the train arrived at platform no nine at around 1:30 am yesterday and rescued the children, all aged between seven to 13 years. The West Bengal police were probing if the children were being trafficked to elsewhere in the country, police sources said. The children were sent to Howrah Don Bosco Ashalayam for safe custody.
Lalgarh, 18 June : Bodies of four CPI(M) local committee members of Goaltore in West Midnapore were found on Thursday near the party office near Lalgarh, taking the death toll in the current spell of violence in the troubled district to 11.
The four local committee members were missing since Wednesday evening, West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma said. Earlier, CPI(M) woman leader Saluka Soren was killed on 11 June at Dharampur and party leader Shankar Tudu at Bhulabheda village in Belpahari on 13 June. Three CPI(M) supporters were killed at Dharampur on 14 June, while two bodies of kidnapped workers werefound on 15 June.
CPIM can fully tackle Maoists : Tripura chief minister
Agartala, 18 June : Maoist violence and the ensuing tension in West Bengal should be dealt with administratively, ideologically and politically, said Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who is also a senior CPI(M) leader.
"The Left movements in Bengal and across the country are matured enough and have full strength to tackle the Maoist hostility and associated enmity in West Bengal," Sarkar told newsmen here Thursday before leaving for New Delhi for a CPI(M) politburo meeting.
Tribals on warpath န Say can work better than govt
Lalgarh, 18 June : Hinting at a state within a state, tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato said his organisation could build infrastructure in just eight months in restive Lalgarh, which the state government could not do in 32 years.
"If the state government had done 10 per cent of the work we did, the situation would have been different," Mahato, Convenor of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) said. "We have laid at least 50 km of gravel path, dug tanks and tube wells and revived irrigation canals with the help of villagers," he said. Mahato claimed the PCAPA built a 60-feet-deep reservoir at Barapelia, where its headquarters is situated, and planned to revive a canal for irrigation. A health centre with a doctor was also functioning at Kantapahari, he said. Though the government built the road to Midnapore town, all link roads were constructed by the PCAPA, he said, claiming that this saved villagers from walking for miles through forests.
Maoists are on the rampage in Lalgarh, in Midnapore district of West Bengal bordering Orissa, targetting CPI(M) cadres and party offices protesting against police "atrocities".
Tripura TMC demands Agartala-Kolkata via Dhaka railway service
Agartala, 18 June : Tripura unit of Trinamool Congress has urged Railway Minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee to ensure Agartala-Guwahati and Agartala-Kolkata train services via Dhaka besides, increasing the number of passenger trains in the state and setting up of a separate rail division for Tripura.
Tripura TMC Chairman Arun Chandra Bhowmik told mediapersons here today that he recently held detailed discussions with Mamata Banerjee on railway development in North-Eastern states especially Tripura and she had assured to consider the demands, which would be reflected in the Rail Budget.
Germans geologists confident of quelling mine fires
Asansol, Kolkata, 18 June : Residents of Samdih and Nimcha near Asansol have cause for cheer. The German team that conducted a detailed study of the underground fires in these two areas believe that the flames can be doused before they reach the villages. Should work start in six weeks, the underground fires can be extinguished by the end of the year.
"The situation in Nimcha is not as bad as it is in Samdih. Even at Samdih, the fire has not managed to reach too deep into the ground. We have recorded the temperature 50 metres under the surface. It was not hot. We think that the fire can be stopped before it reaches the central part of the village. The northern part of the village is already lost," said geologist Dr Hartwig Gielisch, who is leading the team from German firm DMT. The company was engaged by Coal India Ltd to conduct the study. Experts believe that the rains will help to cool down the fire to a large extent. Dense smoke may escape from the fissures in the ground as rainwater reaches the fires. "Analysis of the data and samples collected has already started in Germany. The final report will be submitted in July. We have given some suggestions to Coal India and Eastern Coalfields Ltd. Should these be followed in the next four weeks, matters should not get out of hand. If everything goes according to plan, we can start work in six weeks," Gielisch said.
"The fire at Nimcha should take two weeks to extinguish. Samdih will take some more time. The response from CIL and ECL will have to be immediate. Any delay may result in the nature of the fire changing completely," said Dr Satish K Trehan, who is co-ordinating the efforts. န File Photos : Niraj Modi