Maoists struck with impunity killing three youths suspecting them to be police informers and shooting at and injuring a ruling CPI(M) leader as West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee began a tour of the district on saturday to take stock of the situation.
Bullet-riddled bodies of three youths Lakhi Das, Jayram Mandi and Manoranjan, with hands and legs tied were found on a road in Kusbani jungle about 70 km from Midnapore, the police said.
The Maoists left behind posters claiming the three were police spies and CPI(M) agents and had been punished. In Kolkata, Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said the three victims were Jharkhand Party activists.
Shortly after the chief minister arrived for a review of the law and order and welfare measures in West Midnapore district where tribals-backed Maoist unrest has been continuing despite anti-Maoist operations by central paramilitary and state police, local CPI(M) leader Subhas Soren, was shot at, at Nandasole, about 75 km from in Midnapore (WB) .
Police said Soren, a member of CPI(M)'s Gopiballavpur district committee, was accosted on the road at around 5:30 pm by suspected Maoists who shot him below the hip.
Soren a former MLA, was taken to Midnapore Medical College Hospital where his condition was stated to be critical, the sources said. Meanwhile, the chief minister was shown black flags by Trinamool Congress supporters at Nanoor Chowk in the town and four persons were arrested in connection with the incident, the police said.
Trinamool Mahila Congress supporters held a demonstration before the Circuit House demanding the release of the four, whom they claimed were students, when the chief minister was closetted in a series of meetings with the West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura district magistrates, police superintendents and officials of joint forces operating in the Maoist areas of these districts. In Kolkata, the Home Secretary admitted Maoists were getting help from local people.
"The Maoists are getting local support. If the area is developed, the local people will dissociate themselves from the Maoists. The Maoist problem cannot be tackled only with police action," Sen said.
Police operations against Maoists, however, would continue as they were expanding their area of operations, he told newsmen here before leaving for Midnapore town to attend the chief minister's meeting.
Six hundred para-military personnel and around 4,000 policemen have been deployed in West Midnapore district in view of the chief minister's visit. PTI