Mamata's seven-day deadline for Maoists ends today; tight security across state(GOOD WISHES MAMTAJI FOR HER PEACEFUL EFFORT FOR THE PEACE!!...VT)
NDTV Correspondent, Updated: October 22, 2011 08:16 IST
Kolkata: West Bengal is under heightened security as the seven-day deadline laid down by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for Maoists to lay down arms ends today. As a retaliatory response, the Maoists have called for a day-long bandh in the Junglemahal area - considered to be one of their strongholds in the state.
The bandh - announced on Wednesday after the Maoists rejected Ms Banerjee's ultimatum - is expected to affect normal life in the West Midnapore and Jhargram districts in the state.
"Make the bandh in Junglemahal on Saturday a success against the injustice meted out to the people of the area," Maoist state committee secretary Akash, who escaped a raid by the joint forces on Tuesday in West Midnapore district, had said in a pamphlet that was found in the Junglemahal area.
The Maoists had also slammed the Chief Minister for her "supari killers" remark, likening her aggressive posturing to that of 'Maa Kali'. Ms Banerjee had made the remark at a rally in Jhargram on October 15. Slamming the Maoists for continuing on their killing spree despite a halt in operations against them by the joint forces, Ms Banerjee - while also calling them "jungle mafia" - gave them a week's time to shun violence and come back to the negotiating table.
The Maoists had said that Ms Banerjee had insulted them by making such remarks against them.
Earlier, the Maoists had launched a similar attack on the Chief Minister, albeit by their front body - the People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) - just a day after she gave the Red rebels a seven-day ultimatum.
In posters that were found near Salboni in West Midnapore district on the day the Maoists were served the deadline, the PCPA accused the Chief Minister of going back on her promise of stopping operations against them by Central forces and release of political prisoners.
So far, the Maoists seem to be in no mood to come forward for talks. Instead, on Tuesday, they engaged security forces in a gun battle. Tribal rights activist and writer Mahasweta Devi has joined the Maoist chorus for the withdrawal of the armed forces from several areas in the state.
With the situation already tense in the state, it was no surprise that interlocutors appointed by the state to talk to the Maoists came away with little result. Though Sujato Bhadra, one of the interlocutors, has stressed that the dialogue is on and will continue, talks seem to be making little headway.
The state government has asked the Centre for two additional battalions of paramilitary forces, clearly signalling that it is reaching the end of its patience, and a showdown could be on the cards sooner rather than later.