Friday, December 26, 2008

Maoists dare CPM near Jindal plant site

26 Dec 2008, 0252 hrs IST, Sukumar Mahato, TNN

SALBONI: In an open challenge to CPM, a band of 50 Maoists armed with rifles stormed Madhupur village near Sajjan Jindal's steel plant site in West Midnapore on Thursday and forced everyone to come out of their huts and parade with them.

All the villagers meekly followed them, except two local CPM leaders, who fled into a nearby forest. The Maoists barged into the duo's homes and set them on fire. Only a couple of days ago, Maoists had shot dead two policemen and injured a third in a crowded Purulia bazaar.

Thursday's show of strength by Maoists was apparently in response to CPM's comeback in Jangalmahal. The ruling party had drawn armed cadres from neighbouring Garbeta to re-establish its authority in the Maoist-dominated area. The guerrillas hit back to crush the resistance put up by CPM leaders Kamalkanta Singhadeb and Niranjan Debsingha in Madhupur.

It's the ordinary villagers who are caught in the tussle between CPM and police on the one hand, and the Maoists on the other.

The Maoist-led Committee against Police Atrocities is again on the warpath. Its spokesperson Chhatradhar Mahato announced on Thursday that they would resume the blockade of Jangalkhand from January.

"The government did not keep its promise. Police officers were supposed to go to Chhoto Pelia village to hold talks with the tribals. No one has even bothered to visit the village. We want the Lalgarh SP to apologize for the police repression," Mahato said.

Sensing the coming storm, a section of CPM wants Lalgarh SP Rajesh Sinha moved somewhere else, but the administration is dragging its feet because Sinha is apparently very close to CPM's West Midnapore district secretary Dipak Sarkar.

CPM's Debagram local secretary Bikash Ukil accused Trinamool Congress of joining hands with Maoists to terrorize villagers in favour of industry. "Worried by the impressive CPM rally here on Wednesday, Maoists retaliated a day later with the help of Trinamool. They have threatened villagers if anyone dares oppose them," Ukil said.

The Maoists are piling on the pressure. The Committee against Police Atrocities met Lodha Sabar Kalyan Samity leaders in Midnapore town on Thursday to up the ante against the government. They will start an indefinite fast in front of the DM's office from December 30. "The last time, we broke the fast in September when the DM gave us in writing that he would set up an eight-member panel to look after tribal welfare. The panel has not been set up yet," Samity vice-president Khagendranath Maity said. "No committee has been set up to probe the alleged torture on tribals, either."

Another Adivasi organization, Bharat Joan Gaonta, has called a 48-hour bandh in Jhargram town from February 9 to protest against police inaction in the murder of JMM leader Sudhir Mandi. "Police are adding to the scare by labelling people Maoists," Gaonta leader Munshiram Murmu said.

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