Maoist shadow looms large over Amit Shah's West Bengal visit

Due to the proximity of rural areas of Balarampur to Maoist-infested areas of neighbouring Jharkhand, West Bengal Police have urged the state BJP to limit Shah's programme to Balarampur.

Published: 15th June 2018 10:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th June 2018 10:32 PM   |  A+A-

BJP chief Amit Shah (File | EPS)

Express News Service

KOLKATA: BJP president Amit Shah's two-day visit to West Bengal during this month-end may be cut short due to security concerns emanating from Maoists in neighbouring Jharkhand. While Shah will hold a programme here on May 27, he is slated to visit the families of two deceased BJP workers in Purulia district's Balarampur on May 28.

However, due to the proximity of rural areas of Balarampur to Maoist-infested areas of neighbouring Jharkhand apart from the expected huge gathering of people to meet him and the local topography being conducive for an ambush, West Bengal Police have urged the state BJP to limit Shah's programme only to Balarampur town. The state BJP has apprised the central leadership of the problems flagged by the police.

"Amit ji was supposed to visit the houses of BJP workers Trilochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar in Supurdi and Dava villages. However, police have asked us to limit Amit ji's stay at Balarampur town and arrange for the victims' relatives to meet him there. They have said that the approach roads to the villages are narrow and unpaved and would be worse after rains in June-end. They said it would be difficult for them to manage the huge convoy that would accompany Amit ji and the huge crowd that would come to visit him," state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.

The bodies of Trilochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar were found hanging in their villages Supurdi and Dava on May 30 and June 2, respectively. A poster was stuck to Trilochan Mahato's dead body stating that he was killed for working for the BJP.

The saffron party claimed that its two party workers were murdered by Trinamool Congress activists to intimidate it after its sweep of Balarampur block in the panchayat elections.

However, the state government maintained that the two deaths were suicides and claimed that Maoists from neighbouring Jharkhand were fomenting trouble in Balarampur block. Ever since, BJP's youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) had formed vigilante forces of around 4,000 men in 60 of the 90 villages of the block to guard the villages at night.

"Visit to Dulal Kumar's Dava village is not much of a problem as it is right beside the highway but Trilochan Mahato's Supurdi village is remote. It would be a problem to manage the huge crowds that would converge to see Shah. The approach road to Supurdi is also narrow, unpaved and surrounded by topography that is conducive for an ambush. The region was Maoist-affected till a few years ago. Besides, Maoist conspiracies from neighbouring Jharkhand cannot be ruled out," a senior police official said on condition of anonymity. However, an official notification over the change of Amit Shah's itinerary is yet to be issued.

Sources revealed that the precautionary measures of the state police also come after Maharashtra Police claimed to have unearthed a plan of Maoists to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Given the sensitivity of the issue, the state BJP is also likely to accede to the suggestions of the state police.

Why security forces are worried

Amit Shah's schedule

Bengal visit: June 27, 28

Visit to Purulia: June 28

He intends to pay homage to BJP workers Trilochan Mahato (19) and Dulal Kumar (30) whose bodies were found hanging, in their respective villages

The problem

* Visit to Supurdi (Trilochan Mahato's village), 5 km away from Balarampur town

* Topography: Hillocks, forests, undulating topography typical of Chotanagpur plateau

* Network connection: Bad

* Road to Supurdi: Unpaved, 5 ft wide

* Distance from Jharkhand: 10 km

Maoist threat

* Dalma forest range north of Jamshedpur is a Maoist stronghold

* Encounters of Maoists in Dalma with security forces reported regularly

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