First went the roof. Then, the fancy rails lining the balcony on the first floor. Finally, the ground floor was torn down, piece by piece.
A huge crowd gathered around the two-storied white washed house, lustily cheering each hammer blow, despite a curfew order being clamped in the area.
In this land of deprivation, the house seemed to be an island of prosperity. For, it belonged to Anuj Pandey, CPI(M) zonal committee secretary, who had already fled to safety on Saturday after a nightlong battle with Maoists.
By sun down on Sunday, the hammers left only rubble where Pandey’s house stood.
By tearing down Pandey’s house, the villagers ‘liberated’ Dharampur in Lalgarh area in West Midnapore district of West Bengal for the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PACPA).
The police did try to enter Dharampur on Sunday night. But they had to retreat, faced with a ragtag army of women and children — the Maoists’ first line of defence.
As the state government responded by rolling back the frontiers, withdrawing four more police camps in the area, the villagers celebrated the victory by setting ablaze another camp at Ramgarh.
Barely 20 km away from Pandey’s house, district magistrate Narayan Swarup Nigam, said the reason for abandoning the camps was unease among policemen. He admitted, “The situation is grave and going out of control.”
Now, there is hardly any roadblock on the road to district headquarters, Midnapore, and Jhargram, another important town in the district.