Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lalgarh: Perfect setting for reds, last straw for government

Madhumita Mookerji & Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri / DNATuesday, June 23, 2009 2:42 IST Email

Kolkata: A fortnight ago, nobody had heard of Lalgarh, a block tucked away in West Midnapore. But now, people who have lived with these hapless tribals return to tell horrific tales of their poverty. Many families hardly get to eat everyday, women hide their modesty with a single sari... there's hardly any healthcare facility and water is often undrinkable... The terrain is hilly and rough. And Nature has made these people, living off an unyielding mother earth, by default very hardy.

To the Maoists, Lalgarh presented an ideal scenario where they could infiltrate among the local people, exploit their poverty and indoctrinate them against the administration and turn their cause into a "peoples' movement".

According to a political analyst, Maoists practice guerrilla warfare and to mount this type of an offensive, they always look for tough terrain, poverty-stricken areas with no motorable roads... The first time they tried to turn their cause into a mass movement was at Nandigram but it failed for two reasons. One, Nandigram was not tribal-dominated. Two, the terrain was not conducive to their movement.

But experts feel the state administration is responsible for allowing the Maoists to fester. "The ultimate aim of the Maoists is to seize power. So, they will look to fill into the gaps created by the administration. The lack of economic development has handed the Maoists the perfect grooming ground," said another analyst.

Moreover, the Maoists are also exploiting the hardiness of the tribals. No city youth would be able to endure the rigorous hardships that these tribals undergo in their daily lives, making them ideal candidates for the gun drill.

Even CPI(M) leaders admit that poverty and lack of development helped Maoists win
the confidence of people. The luxurious lifestyles of local CPI(M) leaders created unrest among poor locals, which the Maoists exploited.

CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose said the government needs to get its act together. "The government has initiated a number of developmental projects there, but they need to step in further. People need drinking water and electricity, that's a must and it has to be done now," he said.

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