Security forces conducting the operation to liberate Lalgarh have cleared 22 of 42 villages in the area of Maoist-backed tribal agitators and were further consolidating their positions, officials said on Monday.
The troops comprising the CRPF, BSF, IRB, State Armed Police and the Eastern Frontier Rifles men were in full control of the national highway connecting the district headquarters with Lalgarh, a senior police officer said.
"Twenty of the 42 villages under the jurisdiction of the Lalgarh police station have been cleared off agitators," he said. The police station, which remained out of bounds since November, was retaken on June 19.
All vehicles were being searched and people frisked.
Two forested areas on the highway connecting Midnapore and Lalgarh -- Pirakata and Jhitka -- were sanitised.
Pickets of security forces have been set up all along the highway, which was also being patrolled, he said.
The forces, which had launched the operation against the Maoists on June 18, were yet to move out of Lalgarh, he said.