Kolkata, Oct 22: There was only partial response to the daylong shutdown called by the rebels Saturday in West Bengal’s Junglemahal, the Maoist-dominated areas, to protest alleged atrocities by security forces and ruling Trinamool Congress-backed groups.
The seven-day deadline given by Mamata Banerjee to the rebels to choose between talks and violence ends Saturday.
Junglemahal comprises the forested areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura where the left-wing extremists have a stronghold.
In West Midnapore’s Dubrajpur, there was tension after an abandoned box was seen lying on the road. However, it contained just a crude cracker.
‘The shutdown is peaceful. It has received partial response with only private vehicles not plying. Shops and other commercial places are mostly open while education institutions are already closed due to holidays,’ Purulia Superintendent of Police Sunil Chowdhury told IANS.
Banerjee, on her visit to Junglemahal Oct 15, had given a seven-day ultimatum to Maoists to choose between dialogue and arms. Banerjee said that soon after coming to power in May, her government sought peace but the rebels did not stop bloodshed.
Subsequent to Banerjee’s ultimatum, posters were found in in Junglemahal, threatening Trinamool Congress leaders if their pre-poll promise of withdrawing joint security forces and releasing jailed extremists was not kept.
On Friday, some Maoist posters even called for ‘isolating’ the Trinamool from the masses.
Bankura Superintendent of Police Pranav Kumar too said the response to the shutdown was only partial. Shops and markets were open while transport service remained largely unaffected.
‘The shutdown till now has been peaceful. There has been no untoward incident. Security in the entire area has been heightened following the call by the Maoists,’ West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Pravin Tripathi told IANS.
The state government has constituted a team of interlocutors to facilitate talks with the extremists to lay down arms and return to mainstream.
The peace talks seem to be reaching a dead-end with the Maoists putting conditional demand for withdrawal of the joint security forces from Junglemahal, while the government is reluctant to concede the demand.