June 27, 2009 5:45:55 pm
Security forces captured key Maoist stronghold of Ramgarh as they launched a two-pronged attack to reclaim areas in West Midnapore district under control of Left-wing ultras who offered stiff resistance by detonating landmines and opening gunfire.
Maoists also torched an office of the Leftist trade union AITUC when they were refused sanctuary in the building shortly before the security forces entered Ramgarh.
Security forces headed from Lalgarh in the south and Kadasole,which was secured yesterday,in the north towards Ramgarh this morning,a senior CRPF officer said.
“We have secured Ramgarh. We will establish a police outpost and a camp. The police will restore normalcy. The operations will continue,” IG CID (Special Operations Group) Siddhinath Gupta said.
Three landmines exploded as 10 companies comprising 1000 men of the CRPF,the India Reserve Battalion and Rapid Action force set out from Kadasole,braving heavy rains and reached Mohultol,with the Maoists also firing at them.
The security forces retaliated with AK-47s,mortars and rocket propelled grenade launchers overcoming the resistance swiftly,the officer said.
In the south,11 CRPF companies comprising 1100 men reached Boropelia village,the home of the agitating People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities leader Chhatradhar Mahato.
They were attacked by Maoists at Pathardanga where two landmines were detected. But the naxals retreated after retaliatory action.
People came out in droves to greet security forces as they arrived. The locals offered drinking water to the fatigued troops.
“We are smiling after many months. We were waiting for the security forces to arrive. They must have faced great difficulty in reaching our village,” a resident said.
A woman said that at around noon a group of 25 to 30 armed Maoists knocked on her door seeking shelter. “When I refused,they threatened to open fire but soon retreated,” she said.
The Maoists while fleeing set ablaze an office of the AITUC,she said. Agitating tribals of West Midnapore,under the banner of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities,backed by Maoists had launched a violent agitation since November against alleged police “atrocities” on them following a landmine blast at Salboni in which Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and two Union ministers had a narrow escape.
The Maoists went on the rampage targeting ruling CPI(M) cadres and offices and virtually took control of a large area after driving away the police and paramilitary forces.
The security forces began a crackdown on June 18 and secured Lalgarh two days later. The troops yesterday took control of Kadasole,where the Maoists fled after a 45-minute gunbattle.
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