Maoists and the security forces exchanged fire in West Midnapore barely 24 hours before Mamata Banerjee's visit to the region on Monday, her first after taking over as West Bengal chief minister.
The scene of the gunfight was about 3.5 km from Lalgarh, which is 160 km to the west of Kolkata. Banerjee is supposed to address a meeting on Tuesday in Jhargram, which is 2 km from the gunbattle site.
Police sources said the rebels and the security forces exchanged about 50 rounds of fire. However, no senior officer came on record and no casualties have been reported so far.
Banerjee reached Midnapore town - headquarters of West Midnapore district - on Monday night. On Tuesday, apart from Jhargram, she will visit Nayagram, another Maoist hotspot.
The chief minister will visit Sarenga in Bankura district - also a Maoist-dominated area - on Wednesday.
Jhargram MLA and pashchimanchal (western zone) development minister Sukumar Hansda said, "On Sunday supporters of the People's Committee against Police Atrocities attacked a village in Jhargram. But our supporters were able to offer successful resistance."
Hours before Banerjee reached West Midnapore, posters appeared in Purulia district, criticising her stand on the release of political prisoners. "How could you imprison those who went to jail to put you in power?" said one poster. "If you want peace, please release all political prisoners," said another.
"During the tour Mamata should order a high-level enquiry to find out the culprits in the security forces responsible for the atrocities on tribal women in Lalgarh in November 2008" - this is one of the demands for which Maoists are campaigning in the region.
Additional reporting by Snigdhendu Bhattacharya