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100 People Killed In Lalgarh Naxal Violence; Centre Worried

PTI 03 Jan 2010, 17:52:21 IST

Nearly 100 people have been killed by Maoists in Lalgarh-Jhargram area in the last three months of 2009, raising serious concerns in the Home Ministry. 

 The ministry officials said the West Bengal government seems to have failed to tackle the extremists despite having sufficient paramilitary forces.

Officials said incidents of murder of political workers   ironically most of them belonging to ruling Left Front   and innocent villagers by terming them as "police informers" and policemen, have become very common in the 150-km radius area in the restive West Midnapore district.

 "The situation in Lalgarh-Jhargram area is very disturbing. The Maoists are having a free run there. They have been killing people at will and it seems there is no one to check their activities," a senior official said. 

 Not only killings but violent incidents like burning of houses, setting fire on vehicles, rampant extortion, destruction of office buildings, bridges and other infrastructure have been going on freely. 

On a single day  on December 18  the Maoists vandalised a sponge iron factory and set fire to 25 trucks, 12 motorbikes and three oil tankers as they thought the iron units are a source of pollution. There are at least 12 sponge iron factories in the area, the official said. 

However, despite having around 2,500 central paramilitary personnel and adequate number of local police force, the state government has not been able to deal with the Naxals, prompting Home Minister P Chidambaram to describe the situation there as "pretty depressing". 

"I am disappointed over the Lalgarh situation...The situation is pretty depressing...despite adequate number (of) Central paramilitary forces (being) sent to them in June 2009, the West Bengal government has not been able to contain the problem," Chidambaram said. 

What is frustrating for the Home Ministry is the failure of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government to nab CPI (Maoist) leader Kishanji, who has been roaming freely and making frequent calls from his mobile phone to journalists and even to a senior bureaucrat in Kolkata, bringing much embarrassment to the state administration. 

The Chief Minister recently had said that it was not possible to find out the exact location of Kishanji tracking through his mobile though it was easy to find out the mobile tower under which he was making calls, inviting a reaction from Chidambaram, who said, "the Chief Minister is partially correct." 

Interestingly, the Maoists have recently published a document which claimed that they killed 270 security personnel and lost its 232 men between July 2008 and September 2009. PTI