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Maoists now eye north Bengal

Maoists are planning to revisit north Bengal in a big way. So far confined to the south Bengal districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura in its second avtar, the Maoists struck the Katihar-Malda Express train on Friday night.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2009 00:48 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya

Maoists are planning to revisit north Bengal in a big way. So far confined to the south Bengal districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura in its second avtar, the Maoists struck the Katihar-Malda Express train on Friday night.

The first Maoist insurgence in India broke out in Naxalbari, a small village in Darjeeling district in north Bengal, in March 1967.

The rebels made off with two rifles and 120 rounds of ammunition before killing a General Railway Police constable at Bhaluka station in Malda district, about 400 km north of state capital Kolkata.

Communist Party of India (Maoist) Politburo member Kishenji claimed responsibility for Friday’s incident.

He said, “We are receiving invitation from local people and we’ll definitely try to penetrate more in the north Bengal because of its strategic location.”

The area offers direct access to Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Kishenji said, “Though our strength in north Bengal has not improved much, the practical conditions have matured.”

Lalgarh in south Bengal’s West Midnapore district has become one of the Maoists’ bases where at least 100 lives have been lost in the past six months.

These south Bengal districts have big dominant tribal population and forest cover, from which Maoists draw their strength.

North Bengal is mainly dominated by the Kamtapuri Liberation Organisation and the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha besides a marginal presence of the United Liberation Front of Asom.

The Maoists have already lent full support to the Gorkhaland movement and supported the four-day shutdown call by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha in Darjeeling hills.