West Bengal villagers caught between security forces and Maoists

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Pirakata (West Benagal) June 19 (ANI): Fear stalks the villagers trapped in the exchange of fire between the security forces and the Maoist rebels who declared Lalgarh region of West Bengal 'liberated zone'.

The gun battle between the paramilitary troops and the Maoists caused unease amongst the residents of Pirakata village, 18 kilometres from Lalgarh, and from where the security personnel launched their operation against the rebels.

For the villagers who are quite unaccustomed to such circumstances, the situation is very frightening.

"In our village the paramilitary forces are engaged in a clash with the Maoists and the exchange of fire has been taking place. Such incidents never took place in our village," said Asoke Bharti, a villager.

"How are we going to cope with it? If the situation remains like this, then how will we venture out of our homes? Our lives are at stake. They (the Maoists) have been forcing people at night to join them. If we refuse, they beat us, what are we going to do?" Bharti added.

On Friday, the West Bengal Police supported by central paramilitary forces initiated the operation to flush out Maoists from Lalgarh.

According to sources, the central government has rushed five companies of the CRPF and three companies of the BSF. The Cobra force, which is trained to fight the Maoists, has been kept on alert. (ANI)

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