The Statesman Dateline Lalgarh ;Shyam Sundar Roy & Sabyasachi Roy MIDNAPORE/LALGARH, 18 JUNE: The Lalgarh situation reached boiling point today as state armed police and Central paramilitary forces began preparations for the long-awaited operation to flush out Maoists who had laid siege in the area since November last year while keeping the Police Santras Birodhi Public Committee (PSBPC) in the forefront. The build-up for the operation started from the Pirakata police outpost ~ about 22 km from Lalgarh ~ triggering a violent protest from local people who formed a human barricade to prevent security forces from entering Lalgarh. Before leaving for Lalgarh, senior state police officers, including DGP, Mr Sujit Sarkar, DG (Co-ordination), Mr Bhupindar Singh, IG (western range) Mr Kuldeep Singh, held a meeting with commandants of eight companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at the outpost. Soon after that policemen and jawans of the CRPF ~ led by additional superintendent of police, Jhargram, Mr Murlidhar ~ started marching towards Lalgarh around 3.40 p.m. At least 3,000 PSBPC supporters, mostly women and children, tried to block their way at Malida village. Apart from forming a human barricade, armed tribals blocked the Pirakata-Lalgarh Road with logs. The IC of Pirakata outpost, Mr Debashis Mojumdar, urged agitators to remove the blockade. As the PSBPC members refused to clear the road, the additional district magistrate, Mr Santanu Naha, instructed police to fire tear-gas shells and lathicharge the agitators. Several women and children were hurt in the lathi-charge. PSBPC members responded by throwing stones. As PSBPC members retreated, CRPF jawans launched a combing operation in the area in search of suspected Maoists. Around 5.10 p.m. when the security team had just left Malida village, some PSBPC members, who had taken shelter in a roadside house, allegedly fired at them and fled the spot. The house was later cordoned off and searched thoroughly. The first day of the operation ended after the police force reached Pirakuli village, 12 km from Lalgarh, around 7 p.m. Police camps were set up in the area. Later, PSBPC leader Mr Chatradhar Mahato threatened that “tribals will resist the entry of the police in Lalgarh with their traditional weapons till our 23 point charter of demands are met.” Meanwhile, the second in command of the CPI (Maoist), Koteshwar Rao alias Khishanji, said the state government and the Centre will be held responsible if there was bloodshed in Lalgarh. Maoists have called a 48-hour bandh in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar and Chattisgarh from Monday to protest against the police operation in Lalgarh. CPI-M state secretary Mr Biman Bose said the Lalgarh situation was strictly an administrative issue and the administration was dealing with it. “Had it been a political question, we would have reacted accordingly,” he said. Earlier, the bodies of two CPI-M members were found in Patharpara forest in the Goaltore area. They were identified as those of Badol Ahir and Chaitan Soren. They were allegedly abducted by PSBPC activists three days ago.