The final assault on the Maoists who had carved out stronghold in Lalgarh and areas around it in West Bengal was under way on Friday. By nightfall, security forces had regained seven km of territory from Goaltor to Kadashol after gunbattles with the Maoists who retreated towards their bastion of Ramgarh. The CRPF planned to march on Ramgarh on Saturday.
Casualty figures were not known. Security forces said they did not suffer casualties and did not come on bodies of Maoists either. In fact, the security forces ploughed through the fields and thickets on either side of the asphalt road to avoid landmines.
Friday’s operation, seven days after central forces reached Lalgarh town during the first phase, was carried out by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and state police.
The fiercest battle was fought at Murakati village where a section of Maoists held out for long before retreating. At Kadashol, the Maoists repeatedly blasted lanmines before the CRPF fired mortars to clear the area.
The villages and small towns in the area, including Kadashol, considered a stronghold of the Maoists and the People Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), were mostly deserted. Most residents had fled the fighting, the few who remained had locked themselves in their homes.