Two virtual states have sprung up in the adjacent districts of East and West Midnapore in the state of West Bengal. And the police force is on the run.
The east — where Nandigram and Khejuri are located — is virtually under the rule of the Trinamool Congress, while a large chunk of the west has been ‘liberated’ by the Maoists.
The administration seems to have run out of ideas. Worse, the state’s police strength still matches the size of the population six decades ago. There are simply not enough people to wield the stick.
It all begun with Khejuri, adjacent to Nandigram, in the east. Once a CPI(M) stronghold, it was overrun by Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress supporters in the first week of June, just after the Lok Sabha poll results.
Then happened Lalgarh in the west. Maoists, who had already been strong in the district, attacked chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s convoy on November 2, 2008 when he was returning from Salboni, laying the foundation stone of a steel plant.
In response, the police indiscriminately arrested villagers in the surrounding areas. That led to the birth of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), which is now calling the shots in the area, driving out CPI(M) workers and the police from the area.
So much so that the Maoists have been able to create a 1,000-sq-km ‘liberated zone’, comprising 1,100 villages — the second after Dantewada in Chhattisgarh — over the last eight months.
Similar happenings marked the ‘liberation’ of Khejuri in the east. Trinamool supporters took hold of the region, vandalised and set ablaze CPI(M) party offices, raided the houses of CPI(M) leaders and called for a social boycott of the cops.
The boycott still continues, mounting pressure on the police force to wind up the camps set up to protect CPI(M) leaders and supporters at Khejuri.
Earlier, the government wound up four police camps in the west, as the policemen, according to West Midnapore district magistrate S.A. Nigam, “felt uneasy”.