A Maoist-backed organization of local tribalpeople has virtually taken over Lalgarh, an area of India's eastern WestBengal state, and set fire to police camps and offices of the rulingparty.
Hundreds of supporters of the People's Committee Against PoliceAtrocities (PCPA) set fire to police camps in the villages of Salboni,Rangarh and Dharampur in the early hours of Monday, the Indian Expressnewspaper reported.
They also demolished offices of the revisionist 'Communist Party' ofIndia-Marxist (CPI-M), a leading partner in West Bengal's rulingcoalition.
The locals were accompanied by armed cadres of the CPI-M, which is spear heading the rebellion in the area.
Lalgarh town and adjoining villages in West Midnapore district haveseen widespread unrest by local tribes since November when the Maoistssupported the formation of the PCPA to organize protests against allegedpolice atrocities.
Barely 200 kilometres north-west of the state capital Kolkata,Lalgarh has been a virtual no-go area for the local administration sincelate 2008 and the media has largely been barred.On Monday, the media was allowed in and television channels showed drumming, dancing villagers celebrating the victory of the Maoists.
PCPA leaders were quoted as saying that they were not responsible for the arson or demolitions but that it was a spontaneous expression of anger.Most local officeholders of the CPI-M as well as police fled the areabefore the attacks took place.At least three CPI-M cadres were killed during the violence and twomore were missing.Three police posts were ransacked and set on fire along with a localoffice of the revisionist CPI-M.Television channels filmed PCPA members demolishing a new two-storeyhouse belonging to a local CPI-M leader on Monday.After the demolition, a leader of the Communist Party ofIndia-Maoist, identified as Bikash, gave a press briefing with his backto the camera and an AK-47 rifle slung across his shoulder.'The ground here is already ready and waiting for us. A child isabout to be born and we are playing the role of the nurse who willdeliver it,' he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya called a meeting oftop officials to discuss future action in Lalgarh.Bhattacharya narrowly escaped a landmine blast triggered by theMaoists when he was passing through the area in November 2008, followingwhich, locals allege, the police atrocities increased with illegal detentions and torture.