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Jan 10, 2011 at 10:08am IST

Maoists leave but Lalgarh remains under fear

Lalgarh: The Netai Gram massacre which claimed seven lives and left many others injured indicates that very little has changed in Lalgarh.

23-year old Sampa Ghorai is inconsolable. Her tears have dried up, yet her grief doesn't allow her to stop wailing for her 25-year old husband Sourav Ghorai. Sourav was killed by bullets fired in Lalgarh's Netai village. The house was used as a camp for armed CPI-M cadres who had wrested control in last few months as Central forces pushed back the Maoists and thus, unfolded a horror story in Netai village where occupants of armed CPI-M camps like these not only forced one family member from each village home to stand for nightlong vigil in the bitter cold, and cook food for the armed cadres but also allegedly forced them to train their hands on guns.

A villager Jayanta Ghorai told, "At gunpoint they forced us to go for the training. They screened the aged and selected the younger ones. Those who failed to do the exercise were beaten up."

Villagers alleged that even the joint forces, who patrolled the area regularly when the Maoists held fort till a few months back, stopped visiting ever since the ruling CPI-M recaptured the area. Built in the house of a local CPI-M leader Rathin Dandopat for area domination, the camp was allegedly occupied by 30 armed party cadres from different districts. They all vanished without a trace as the police, as usual, had reached much later.

The victim's relative Shaktipada Ghorai says, "We can no longer trust this administration. We informed the police at 7 in the morning and they came at 5 in the afternoon. How can we trust them?"

Villagers poured out their grief and anger as Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee reached the spot 24 hours after the carnage. But that did not prevent the CPI-M from taking out rallies in Lalgarh They are the new dominant force in the area and the message was being sent out loud and clear

Netai has suddenly transformed itself into a living example of the reign of political terror that Lalgarh has embodied for the last few years. But the incident at this village has provided the all important proof that the CPM does indeed run armed camps in the region and is forcing the villagers to take training in the use of fire arms.

CPI-M remains in denial mode, though the state police has arrested three people allegedly affiliated to the party, for the killings.

CPI-M leader Shyamal Chakraborty said, "It is surprising that just two hours after the incident one MP, Suvendu Adhikary, rushed to the spot. How did he come to know? It is clearly understood that it is a preplanned incident done by the Trinamool and Maoists."

Villagers of Lalgarh remain caught in the crossfire even after the Maoists have been pushed back and before it is decided who will rule the state after the upcoming assembly elections, they will live in fear, their life a mere pawn in the political battle between the ruling Left and the Opposition.