Setting aside the Maoist offer of a ceasefire and its own pre-poll promise, the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government is scaling up armed operations against the leftwing rebels in the Jangalmahal area.
“We are engaged in full-scale operations against Maoists in Jangalmahal,” said
a senior police officer at Writers’ Building, the state secretariat, on condition of anonymity. “Operations are being scaled up to track down top Maoist leaders who are frequenting the Lalgarh-Jhargram belt.”
On September 30, the insurgents proposed a month-long ceasefire signed by their leader Akash and government-appointed interlocutors, Sujato Bhadra and Choton Das.
Banerjee, who heads the Trinamool Congress party, had also promised withdrawing joint forces of the Central and state governments from Maoist-hit areas ahead of the April-May assembly polls. But that assurance now appears forgotten.
“We have not received orders to suspend operations,” said the officer cited above.
Operations were conducted in Lalgarh recently to nab the elusive Maoist leader Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji. Security forces also combed the nearby jungles. Bhagwat Hansda, central committee member of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, was arrested in Binpur on Saturday.
Two CRPF battalions were scheduled to be withdrawn this month. But it was stalled following a state request.
“Mamata is scheduled to visit West Midnapore on October 14,” said a senior party leader, who did not wish to be named. “She is expected to press on her development agenda and indicate that opposition to her initiatives would not be tolerated. We are clear we want peace, but not at the cost of lives or development.”