Bengal police review security in former Maoist stronghold after stray incidents

Virendra, the director-general of police (DGP) in West Bengal, on Saturday reviewed security arrangements in parts of the state’s western districts that used to be a hotbed for subversive activities carried out by the members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) until 2011. These districts are located along Bengal’s border with neighbouring Jharkhand and Odisha. Last week, the Centre withdrew the Central security forces deployed in the region to counter the Left-wing extremists (LW) since there has been no insurgent activity in the past 10 years.

DGP Virendra visited Jhargram and West Midnapore districts and held a meeting with Indian Police Service (IPS) officers to review some stray incidents that had come to light of late. On August 15, around a dozen hand-written posters were recovered from a couple of villages located around the Bhulabheda forest. The posters had urged the public to observe Independence Day as ‘kala divas’, or black day.

On August 27, a cooking gas dealer had lodged a police complaint, saying a shot was fired outside his house at Belpahari in Jhargram district. Some posters, issuing threats to a local contractor, had surfaced at Banspahari in West Midnapore district around the same time. “No Maoist connection was found in any of the incidents.

Police also did not find any evidence of a shot being fired outside the house of the cooking gas dealer. It could be crackers. But we have activated our intelligence network,” said a Jhargram district police officer who did not want to be quoted.

“We reviewed the incidents at the meeting. Police will intensify vigil in villages,” DGP Virendra told media persons after holding talks with IPS officers. West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar recently hinted that Maoists could be regrouping in the state.

“The dangerous head of Maoism is getting visible with support of state actors,” Dhankhar had said at a function organised at the Raj Bhawan to mark the second death anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Parts of West Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura and Jhargram districts comprise the region where the Maoists had carried out subversive activities between 2009 and 2011. Over 350 civilians, including Maoist leaders and cadres, and more than 50 security personnel were killed in Bengal during that period.

Security forces had killed around 80 Maoist leaders and activists. The Maoists were wiped out from Bengal after the Trinamool Congress (TMC) came to power in 2011. Maoist leader Koteswar Rao alias Kishanji was killed in a police encounter the same year.

The TMC has recently inducted Chhatradhar Mahato, who was the convener of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) during the Left Front regime, into the party’s state committee.

He was in prison for 10 years.

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