Maoist rebels in eastern India shot dead four villagers linked to a governing party and attacked a police station killing two policemen, officials said Monday.The attacks came after the rebels — described by the prime minister as India’s biggest internal security threat — called a 48-hour general strike on Sunday in seven eastern states.
A 15-20 strong Maoist squad raided Chotopatina village under Nayagram police station and killed five people belonging to two families after dragging them out from their homes,’ West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma told IANS over phone.
The heavily-armed ultras hurled bombs and fired in the air to scare people in the Dompara area of the village.
They entered the house of CPI-M supporter Amrit Aagyuan and abducted him at gunpoint after beating up some family members, including women, a police officer said.
The Left-wing extremists then attacked another house and dragged out four family members – Rohin Aagyun, Samaresh Aagyuan, Swapan Aagyuan and Prasanta Aagyuan.
All the five were taken some distance away, beaten up and shot. Four of the victims died on the spot while Swapan Aagyuan died in a local hospital.
The slogan-shouting ultras left after leaving some posters beside the bodies.
A large team of joint security forces comprising central paramilitary troopers and crack units of the state police, who are carrying out an operation to flush out Maoists from the Maoist affected forested areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts, locally called junglemahal, have rushed to the spot and sent the bodies to Nayagram police station.
Normal life was disrupted in these areas in response to the shutdown called by the Maoists.
In West Midnapore, shops and markets were closed in large parts of Jhargram sub-division.
‘The shutdown affected normal life in several areas under Jhargram, Binpur, Lalgarh, Nayagram and Belpahari police stations. Vehicles mostly did not ply while markets remained closed. Schools and colleges were open but there were very few students,’ said a police officer.
In Bankura, three Maoist-affected areas — Ranibandh, Barikul and Sarenga — observed total shutdown, said District Superintendent of Police Pranav Kumar.
‘In two other police station areas of Simlapal and Raipur, the effect was partial,’ Kumar told IANS over phone.
The shutdown had some impact in three-four police station areas close to forested stretches in Purulia district, said Superintendent of POlice Rajesh Yadav.
The Maoists have called for a shutdown in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattishgarh, and Andhra Pradesh apart from eastern Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli, Bhandara and Chadrapur districts and in Madhya Pradesh’s Balaghat district.
The radicals have also demanded the resignation of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Girish Kumar, holding them responsible for Azad’s death.
Azad, the number three in the Communist Party of India-Maoist hierarchy, was gunned down by the police. While the central and Andhra Pradesh governments have maintained that Azad was killed in a gunfight in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh July 2, Maoists and their supporters allege the shootout was staged.
The guerrillas, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting the government in eastern India for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for the poor. Their presence has spread as they have tapped into anger among rural dwellers left out of India’s economic gains.
In West Bengal state late Sunday, guerrillas ordered four men out of their homes and then shot them dead in Jhargram village before fleeing, said police official Surojit Kar Purkayastha. The victims were supporters of the state’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), he said.
In neighboring Jharkhand state, scores of armed rebels attacked a police station in Bhejji village early Monday, killing two policemen, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
On Sunday, the rebels called their general strike and blew up a three-foot (one-meter) section of railway track that disrupted train services across the region, said police official R.K. Mallick in nearby Chattisgarh state.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said his government would deal firmly with the rebels who resort to violence but would also step up development programs in the districts worst hit by rebel attacks.
“We have to accelerate our development efforts … and make our administrative machinery more sensitive and responsive to local concerns,” Singh told a meeting of top army commanders.
The rebels are now present in 20 of India’s 28 states and have an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 fighters, according to the Home Ministry.