Monday, November 29, 1999

Battle against Naxals a long-drawn process: WB Police

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Saibal Gupta & Ashok Bhaumick Kolkata, Jun 18 (PTI) On the first anniversary of the joint forces'' operation against Maoists in West Midnapore, the West Bengal Police today said the battle against the Naxals is a long-drawn process but the rule of law has been established in the Naxal stronghold of Jungle Mahal. The year saw tough challenges for the joint forces during which Naxals killed 24 EFR personnel in Sildah on February 15 and are suspected to be involved in the Jnaneswari Express disaster which left 148 people dead. "The success or the failure of the joint forces cannot be defined in a single line. It is a long process and we have to wait for some more time," West Bengal Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh told PTI. "But, it is true that we have made significant improvement in the area in comparison to the situation last year," Singh said when asked about the success of the anti-Maoist operations. West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma said, "It is true that in the last one year the Maoists have been successful in making some deadly attacks like at Sildah and the Jnaneswari Express derailment. "But, in one year, the police and the joint forces have been successful in reaching out to the farthest corners of Jungle Mahal and rule of law has been established," he said. Jungle Mahal comprises Maoist-hit forested areas of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts. Maoists have called for a bandh today coinciding with one year of operations of security forces in the area. "Our primary task was to establish administrative control over the area so far dominated by the Maoists and we have done so," Verma said. Another senior police officer said, "We have been successful in setting up a human intelligence network in the area and that has started giving results." Citing the June 16 success of the joint forces in gunning down eight hardcore Maoists at Ranja forest, he said, "We had a specific tip off that the Maoists had set up a camp at Duli village and were staying there for two days. "We closed in on Duli village and launched an operation which gave us a big success." The officer also cited the March 25 encounter at Hatiloth forest in which top Maoist leader Kishenji was alleged to have been injured. "We acted on a tipoff provided by local villagers that Kishenji was present. It is true we did not find any bodies, but we sent a message to the Maoists that it was not their territory anymore. That was the first operation when we could make a dent in the red bastion," the officer said. MORE PTI SAG AKB PC SC.

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