A severe gun-battle has been going on for more than six hours from Monday evening at Inayatpur village near Lalgarh, about 10 km from Midnapore town, about 250 km from Kolkata.
While there have been unconfirmed reports of at least 10 deaths, the administration said they were not in any position to comment on the casualties until the combined force of the state and central government reaches the spot and takes hold of the area. The Maoists also avoided commenting on casualties saying that they can confirm it only after the battle is over.
According to sources, the gun-battle started following the murder of two women villagers of Inayatpur who reportedly died in firing from CPI(M) cadres, who had allegedly stockpiled arms and ammunitions inside their Inayatpur party office for last one month. Following the news of the two women's death, thousands of local tribals gheraoed the party office from three sides in the afternoon and started firing at the CPI(M) party office.
"Our Peoples' Liberation Guerilla Army is also supporting the villagers," CPI(Maoist) politburo member Kishanji, 51, told HT on Monday night. He added, "We are giving the CPI(M) this last ultimatum to handover all their arms and ammunitions or we and the local tribals cannot be blamed for their deaths."
According to sources, though the combined force started for Inayatpur from different camps immediately after the news broke, they are yet to reach the spot till the last reports came because of blockades put up at different areas by the local tribal population. Different roads including the Midnapore-Dherua metal road has been dug up afresh and several other roads have been blocked by felling trees, local sources said.
"The combined force has marched towards the area. We cannot say anything more right now until they send us reports from the spot," Narayan Swarup Nigam, DM, East
Midnapore, 45, told HT. Manoj Verma, SP, West Midnapore, 40, said, "I cannot confirm any casualty right now. It would need time."
At present there are 1,700 central force personnel along with more than 2,000 cops of the state police deployed in and around Lalgarh. The state government has recently asked for 10 more companies of central forces to tackle fast growth of the Maoists. But this incident again revealed how despite the presence of such huge force the Maoists are actually calling all the shots in the forest surrounding areas of West Midnapore district.