Lalgarh simmers, tribals lay siege after 3 deaths

Kolkata: A day after three tribals were killed in the exchange of gunfire with CPM cadres, the locals in the Lalgarh-Jhargram belt on Tuesday laid siege to the area to begin an indefinite blockade and vowed to spread the agitation in other districts as well.

Fierce clashes had broken out on Monday between the tribals and the CPM cadres, who were taking out a funeral procession of their slain local leader, who was allegedly killed a day earlier by suspected Maoists said to have close links with the tribals in the area. No arrests have been made so far.

Meanwhile, Santras Birodhi Janaganer Committee (anti-police atrocity committee) has called for a 48-hour bandh beginning Wednesday in three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Congress and SUCI have also given a 12-hour bandh call in the three districts. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is likely to visit Lalgarh today.

The clash on Monday took place at Dharampur in the Khasjangal area, when CPM cadres were taking out a procession with the body of their slain leader Nandalal Pal, who was shot dead on Sunday. Both the groups exchanged fierce gunfire and fought with bows and arrows. Three private vehicles were also torched.

“Tribals blocked several areas on Tuesday morning in and around Lalgarh area,” West Bengal Inspector General (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said.

The Lalgarh-Jhargram area was cut off from the rest of Bengal by the blockade by the tribals, who placed big tree trunks at Ramgarh, Pirakata, Kantapahari and Jhitka areas. Blockades have also been put up at various points in Lalgarh-Midnapore, Lalgarh-Salboni and Lalgarh-Goaltore roads.

Tribals groups armed with traditional weapons, including bows and arrows, manned various entry and exit points in the area. Roads were also dug up in some places. Telephone lines were cut off at some places, affecting police stations and administrative buildings.

The agitating tribal group held a meeting at Ramgarh today. Sidhu Soren, committee’s general secretary, said, “The blockade will continue indefinitely. We will also spread the agitation to other tribal-dominated areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura. Our tribal brothers were mercilessly killed by CPM goons yesterday. We will not allow the police or anyone from the administration to enter our area.”

The district administration and police also held a meeting at Midnapore town, but were tight-lipped over the outcome. “We discussed the situation in detail and a possible way of controlling any more violence in the area,: said Kuldip Singh, IG Western Range, who was present in the meeting.