With paramilitary forces planning a crackdown on Maoists who have laid siege to two police station areas in West Midnapore district, tribals backing them have put up a three-tier human shield.
"The Maoists have formed a three-tier human shield with women and children in the vanguard, men behind them and armed naxals forming the rearguard," a senior police official involved in the drawing up strategies against the agitators
said in Lalgarh.
The police have withdrawn from camps fearing looting of arms with the tribals under the People's Committee Against
Police Atrocities demolishing and torching empty camps in the past few days, he said.
Maoist action squad leader, known as Bikash, and his men were patrolling roads between Lalgarh and Belpahari armed with AK47s, he said.
Last night the tribals set ablaze CPI(M) party offices in Lalgarh and Belatikri and dug up roads leading to Lalgarh from Dharampur, Goaltore and Pirakata to prevent entry of central forces.
The digging up of roads and felling of trees was a tactic deployed since November last year by the tribals when they went on the warpath after police raids on their homes.
The police made the raids following a landmine blast at Salboni on November 2 in which West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and two then union ministers Ramvilas Paswan and Jitindra Prasad narrowly escaped.
Five CPI(M) men have already been killed and four were missing after clashes with tribals in the past few days, while
three more, including a marxist local leader were shot dead this morning at Bankasole.
On Tuesday, Chief Secretary Asok Mohan Chakraborty said that 500 central paramilitary personnel have been sought from the Centre, with 100 men arriving in Lalgarh and 200-300 more personnel expected shortly.
Another officer said that for the last eight months Lalgarh has been out of bounds for the police, where they were being 'boycotted' by the tribals, who have demanded an apology for the police raids on their homes following the Salboni landmine blast.
"We had to withdraw our camps from Ramgar and Dharampur," said the officer.
The officer said marxist leaders were being killed after being carefully targeted. "They plan the operations in meticulous detail in forests, where it is impossible for the police to search for them," the officer said.