Maoists free policeman; security to be stepped up

Security personnel getting ready for a joint operation against Maoists in Purulia, West Bengal, on Saturday.

Kolkata: Belying fears, Maoists on Saturday released the policeman they abducted on Friday evening at Pirrakhuli, 14 km from Lalgarh in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district. .

In a press statement issued later, Maoist leader Bikash stated that “the policeman was released following discussions with local people, media and intellectuals.”

An assistant sub-inspector at the Debra police station, Dipak Pramanik was released early on Saturday inside the dense Lakshmanpur forest, from where he had to walk four kilometres before reaching the metal road. He finally took a bus home.

Talking to journalists at his home, Mr. Pramanik said he was confined in a house at night with 16-17 Maoists guarding him, adding that the rebels behaved “well” with him and even offered him dinner.

Though top-ranking police officials refused to comment on the issue, the incident once more proved that a month after the launch of a joint operation by security forces in the Lalgarh region, the Maoists still hold sway there.

Several Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporters have been killed by the rebels in the past one month. None of the culprits has been arrested so far.

Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh told The Hindu that security would be further beefed up in the region immediately.
Anti-Maoist drive

Meanwhile, personnel of the State police and the Central Reserve Police Force launched a joint operation to flush out Maoists in Purulia district on Saturday.

It is part of the simultaneous security operations that the West Bengal and Jharkhand police had agreed upon at a joint meeting held in Jharkhand on July 8.
Border sealed

“The Purulia-Jharkhand border has been sealed for the operation to ensure that the Maoists do not escape to the neighbouring State. The Jharkhand police have been informed and we hope they, too, are taking necessary action,” Mr. Singh said.

Twelve companies of the State police and the CRPF carried out the operation by splitting into eight teams with one Deputy Superintendent of State police heading each team. Purulia’s Superintendent of Police, Rajesh Yadav, supervised the operation.
No resistance

The security forces secured the Ayodhya Hill and several adjacent villages — considered a Maoist hotbed — in combing operations on Saturday. They, however, faced no resistance and did not set up any temporary camp anywhere. The security forces plan to continue the operations in Maoist-hit Bandwan and Jhalda areas of the district in the coming days.

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