Saturday, December 13, 2008

Maoist fear grips tribals

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Women head to Mandi’s house to mourn with his widow. (Swarup Mondal)
Belpahari, Dec. 12: The tribals of Belpahari are hesitant to hold a second anti-Maoist meeting in the area after one of the organisers of the first rally was butchered last night.

The slain Sudhir Mandi was the prime mover behind the December 18 meeting at his village, Jordanga.

“We will have to think twice now. Villagers are panicky after the killing. The Maoists had been threatening them for some time. They had asked the villagers not to attend the December 18 meeting and dissociate themselves from the Bharat Jakat Majhi Marwa,” said Baburam Mandi, a Majhi Marwa leader from Belpahari.

Sudhir, a Binpur-II panchayat samiti member, was a leader of the Santhal body Majhi Marwa.

The West Midnapore police chief had yesterday said he believed Sudhir’s murder was “the handiwork of Maoists” because he had organised the December 9 rally at Bhulabheda village in which tribal lea-ders dubbed the rebels killers misleading the community taking advantage of its poverty.

Sudhir was shot and his throat was slit, about 150 metres from his hut, while he was returning home with his wife on a cycle from the weekly bazaar.

Three posters were pasted on trees near the spot. “They said Sudhir Mandi was killed for working as an agent of the CPM and the police,” a Belpahari police officer said.

Sudhir’s wife Chhitamoni, 40, who was dragged away from the scene when Sudhir was being killed, said: “As we approached a culvert, I saw three men sitting. They ordered my husband to get down from the cycle. As my husband put his cycle on its stand, five more men, some of them masked, emerged from behind the bushes with guns in hand. Two of them dragged me away.”

She saw Sudhir talking to them. “I sensed trouble and ran towards my husband. They tried to take him away but I pulled at him. It was then that they shot him five times. One of them slit his throat.”

Others returning from the bazaar alerted the village.

Singh said: “We had once held Sudhir for Maoist links. But he got bail and was lately leading anti-Maoist rallies.”

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