December 15, 2008

CRPF with the help of local people breaks open lock to return to camp

KOLKATA, 14 December, 2008: Local police and jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had to break open the lock to return to a police camp at Ramgarh in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district on Sunday after leaders of the recent agitation against alleged police excesses in the region in possession of the key failed to hand it back despite repeated requests.
The police vacated the camp late last month when the month-long agitation by a section of the local tribal population was at its peak. The return of the security forces is part of the process of restoration of normality in the region, N.S. Nigam, District Magistrate, told Hindu The over telephone from Medinipur.

Leaders of the agitation said they had not been given prior intimation of the return of the police and jawans and the key to the lock was with one of their colleagues who could not be contacted on time. The key was given to them when the police had vacated the camp. The lock was broken after the security forces were kept waiting for nearly four hours.

The stir was called off on December 7 following an assurance by the local authorities that the demands of the protestors, which included action against those policemen guilty of committing excesses local villagers, will be considered. Its leaders will be meeting in Lalgarh on Monday to decide their next course of action.

Officials of the administration as well as the police are now regularly visiting Lalgarh that had remained inaccessible during the agitation due to roads there being dug up and roadblocks set up by the protestors. “We are now in touch with them [the agitators] and discussing matters with them,” Mr. Nigam said.

The agitation was launched by some tribal groups protesting against “police atrocities” on local people during raids to track down those responsible for the blast that narrowly missed the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on November 2.

Mr. Bhattacharjee, who subsequently told the West Bengal Assembly that Maoists were behind the attack, had regretted the assault on villagers including women in the course of raids by the police in the Lalgarh area following the incident.

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