Midnapur (West Bengal), Nov 14 : Tribals in Jhargram-Lalgarh belt of West Midnapore district of West Bengal staged a protest against the alleged 'police excesses' in the area on Friday.
The residents of Jhargram-Lalgarh belt are incensed as they allege that policemen investigating the November 2 landmine attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee have been torturing women and making "indiscriminate" arrests.
The tribals cut off almost four blocks in the district from the rest of the state by digging up roads and felling trees across them.
The protesters have also blocked different entry points into the Jhargram-Lalgarh area for more than a week now.
The protesters, wielding sticks, bows, arrows and choppers allege that innocent tribal residents in villages like Chotopelia, Kanta Pahari, Dehijudi, Khejua, Bandhgadha, Amalavati were being labeled as Maoists by the police and harassed.
"The police officials are coming to the villages and arresting the men. They come in the night. If they have to come, they should come during the day time. If people are guilty they should come with warrants. They should not come without arrest warrants and they should come during the day not at night. They call us Maoists. They themselves are Maoists. That is why they come at night," said Sangita Murmu, protester.
Despite several parleys between the locals and the District Administration, a solution to the problem has remained elusive.
"The administration cannot take hasty steps. It could lead to more trouble or misunderstanding. Some people have some problems and are angry. The district administration and police have assured them that action would be taken against those guilty if complaints are filed. Discussions are going on even now," said Ashok Mohan Chakravorty, Chief Secretary, West Bengal Government.
Trouble began at Lalgarh last week after the district police arrested some school students and allegedly heckled tribal women in connection with the landmine blast that went off when the convoy of Union Ministers Ram Vilas Paswan, Jitin Prasada and Bhattacharjee was passing through Bhadutala. They had a narrow escape.
Villagers allege that police often arrested people on suspicion of being Maoists. They alleged that the police entered tribal homes at midnight and beat up women in the course of their investigation.
The landmine exploded close to Paswan's security vehicle near Salboni, injuring six policemen of a pilot car.
The convoy was returning after the inauguration of JSW Steel's mega 10-MTsteel plant at Salboni in West Midnapore district.