Maoists present at scene of Lalgarh massacre: Bengal Govt

In a twist to the controversy over yesterday's Lalgarh incident, the West Bengal government today said Maoists were present at the scene of massacre, hinting at an exchange of fire between rival groups.

The government version, which was based on the preliminary report of West Midnapore Superintendent of Police, goes against the Opposition charge of a "one-sided mayhem" carried out by armed men of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and is similar to that of the ruling Marxists.

Quoting the SP's preliminary report, Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh said the incident took place at Netai village where a number of villagers, who had come back recently after being evicted from home, were holding a meeting in their shelter in a house.

About 2,000 to 2,500 people, including women, were mobilised in front of the house by the People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), a Maoist-backed organisation and members of the underground CPI (Maoist).

"After some time, a loud sound, which later turned out to be that of a large cracker, came from the rear of the crowd and immediately firing started from the terrace of the house. This was followed by firing from all sides in which two people were killed on the spot and five died later," the chief secretary said.

Mr Ghosh said two improvised fire arms and nine empty cartridges were recovered from the spot.

He said a drive was on to ensure that such incidents did not recur and all illegal fire arms were recovered.

The chief secretary said there was a dearth in the availability of armed police in the state and the government would seek more Central forces from the Centre to maintain law and order before the coming Assembly elections.


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