Having struck success in three of Bengal’s western districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) is now planning to reclaim its lost grounds in Hooghly.
State intelligence reports suggest the Maoists, who built up substantial foothold about a decade ago, are again trying to regroup in this district.
Intelligence agencies also suspect CPI(Maoist) might even be setting up an arms base in the district, particularly in areas surrounding Arambagh, which shares a common boundary with the neighbouring districts of Bankura and West Midnapore.
Located in the lower Gangetic plane, Hooghly is a part of the rice bowl of Bengal. It is also home to some of India’s traditional manufacturing giants like Dunlop, Hindustan Motors and the elusive Nano.
CPI(Maoist) politburo member Koteswara Rao alias Kishenji, 51, admitted they were keen on expanding their presence in and around Arambagh.
But he rejected that they were planning to set up an arms base in Hooghly. “The state intelligence machinery has been spreading such baseless rumours,” he said.
Intelligence sources maintain the Naxalites had substantial influence in the district, particularly in areas like Balipur, Aranda, Mayapur, Khanakul and Pursura, and they were making inroads again.
“The district was earlier a People’s War Group stronghold. The recent arrest of Chandrasekhar Yadav, a CPI(Maoist)’s commander of the Jharkhand region, proves they are again becoming active in the district,” said a senior police officer.
“There are reasons to believe the murder of a Communist Party of India (Marxist) local member at Khanakul during Durga Puja was engineered by the Maoists. What seems to be a political clash between the CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress is actually a Maoist action,” said a senior official.
No official comment was forthcoming, repeated calls to the deputy inspector general, criminal investigation department, Ajay Kumar, evinced no response.