Homeless CPI(M) leaders returning to West Midnapore

Kolkata: Nearly 14 months after they fled from their homes in Maoist-hit West Midnapore district, CPI(M) leaders and supporters are venturing back, with the police attributing it to the improvement in the situation.

"I cannot say that the situation is absolutely normal, but it is true that it has improved and will improve further. The elimination of Maoist and PCPA leaders like Sidhu Soren and Umakanta Mahato have created panic among the ultras," West Midnapore Superintendent of Police, Manoj Kumar Verma told a news agency.

Soren, chief of the Sidhu-Kanhu Jana Militia, the armed wing of the Maoist-backed People Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), was among six ultras killed during a raid by CRPF and joint forces in Golatore area of the district on July 25, which was termed as a huge success.

Similarly, Umakanta Mahato, the prime suspect in the Jnaneswari Express mishap case of May 28 in which 148 passengers died and for whom a reward of Rs one lakh had been announced by the CBI, was killed in an encounter with joint forces in the Mohanpur forest near Lodhashuli on August 27.

"With constant raids the situation has improved in areas like Goaltore, Kotwali, Salboni, Dherua, Ranjha and partly in Dharampur areas," Verma said.

He, however, conceded that top rung Maoists like Kishenji, Akash, Bikash, Tara and Suchitra had managed to elude capture.

"These people have sophisticated arms and can create a problem at any point of time, so we are not saying that there is absolute normalcy, but the situation has considerably improved," the SP said.