Tribals caught in Lalgarh crossfire

LALGARH: Men have deserted their homes and women and children were going hungry for the past three days after the crackdown by police and central forces in Lalgarh in West Midnapore district.

"The men have fled. We could not enter the forest for collecting firewood. The road to the nearby market of Lalgarh and Jhargram town is blocked," said Sandhya Murmu of Pirakata village who has been going hungry with her daughter since yesterday.

The men were being targetted by both security forces and tribals under the banner of Maoist-backed People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA). While the police were harassing them for getting information about Maoists, PCPA leaders were pressurising them to join their agitation, she said.

Most tribal families who made a living by selling forest products were running short of money and food.

People were fleeing down the road to Jhargram saying they would take shelter with their relatives, a PTI correspondent found.

Sailen Mahato, an elderly resident of Pathardoba village near Lalgarh said, "My stationery stall is lying closed since the crackdown began three days ago. We are left with four kilograms of rice and there are four mouths to feed."

Lakshman Tudu, a daily-wage worker in a small unit in Midnapore town said he could not go to work for the past three days and was worried he would run out of money.