Friday, May 15, 2009

Red alert for CPM: Maoist fear sets off desertions in tribal belt

Express News Service
Posted: May 16, 2009 at 0154 hrs IST

Kolkata The CPM has been hit by large-scale desertions in the Jhargram-Lalgarh belt, a party bastion for the past 30 years where resurgent Maoists now hold the sway.
The area, which falls in West Midnapore, has been returning CPM MP Rupchand Murmu in every general election since 1977 with a winning margin of three to four lakh votes. However, last month, the Maoist threat forced around 70 CPM workers to leave the party in Binpur zone. In the latest setback to the party, 32 party leaders including Saluka CPM branch secretary Sudhir Mahato, quit the party on Thursday after making their decision known in the area by circulating posters.

“Our party has almost vanished from the Ramgarh and Binpur zones,” said Annuj Pandey, CPM zonal committee secretary at Binpur. Pandey said People’s Committee against Police Atrocity (PCPA) is acting as a front for the Maoists by keeping the security forces at bay while the ultras can continue their operations unchecked. “Maoists are threatening our people to quit the party. We cannot tolerate this thing anymore,” he said.

Chatradhar Mahato of the PCPA, though, denied his outfit’s role in forcing CPM cadres to break ranks saying they were leaving the party over development issues. Of late, Maoists have grown aggressive against the CPM. A month ago, they beat nine CPM supporters in Saluka. Gopinath Murmu, one of the victims, was hacked to death allegedly by the Maoists.

The local CPM leaders, meanwhile, are unnerved at the prospect of tribal-populated areas in the region going out of their hands soon. Pulin Behari Baskey, the CPM candidate in Jhargram, said West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura would soon cease to be a state government’s territory if the situation is allowed to continue.

“The region was out stronghold. There are many who still backs us despite the Maoist threat. We will look into the matter soon and see how we can control the terrorism in the area. After the poll results, we will see how these Maoists can be handled,” Baskey said.

Meanwhile, Gaur Chakraborty, a spokesperson for the Maoists, said the rebels would do what they think is right for the villagers. “They have forced the CPM leaders to quit the party as they thought these members could be dangerous for the villagers,” he said.

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