Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Murder finger at rebels, rights body

GAUTAM SARKAR
Kathikund (Dumka), March 23: Several theories are doing the rounds after the death of Chotalal Soren, the father of JVM’s Kathikund block president, in a mob attack at Bara Vhalki village yesterday.

The police suspect that Maoists incited the villagers to kill Chotalal, 60, the father of Santosh Soren. But several fingers point to Jharkhand Ulgulan Manch, a rights body, that is fighting for the villagers whose land were taken away by the administration for setting up a power project in Kathikund.

The manch had led the agitation in Kathikund when the police fired on the villagers. Two persons died in the incident and several injured. Sources said that tension had been simmering since that episode on December 6.

In fact, after the Kathikund police, the villagers had blocked all exit and entry points to their hamlets and imposed a “public curfew” not only in Kathikund, but also in neighbouring Shikaripara block.

But Dumka police alleged that Maoists and some Bengal-based coal mafia, who are engaged in excavation of coals from illegal coal pits in the region, had influenced the villagers to barricade the villages. “In reality, the Maoists and the coal mafia used the villagers to block police movements so that they could continue their illegal trade,” said superintendent of police of Dumka Arun Kumar Singh.

But the Dumka police recently managed to remove the blockades and started special drives against the rebels in Bara Vhalki, Bilaikandar, Amrapani and Chaipani.

Yesterday, the police came on a long range patrolling to Bara Vhalki. The villagers thought that Chotalal had informed them about the presence of Naxalites in the village. Soon after the police’s departure, a mob gathered in front of Chotalal’s house, dragged him out and beat him to death.

Close associates of the Soren family alleged that the manch had targeted Chotalal and Mirdha long back in 2007 when the survey of the power project started. “A few months ago, the Maoists had also threatened Chotalal,” a relative said.

“There were many unknown faces in the mob. We were seeing them for the first time here,” said another family member. They, however, did not mention any name in the FIR lodged with the Kathikund police last night.

When contacted, not a single manch activist was willing to speak on the incident.

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