Monday, July 13, 2009

In ‘liberated’ Lalgarh, Maoists hold jana adalats to execute ‘traitors’

Ravik Bhattacharya

Fresh leads in the murder of two CPM men in Lalgarh show that the Maoists in the area are not only able to roam free and extort money from locals but also hold “jana adalats” or people’s court where they deliver their own version of “justice”.

Last Wednesday, Maoists held one such public meeting in Chuasol and decided to “award death sentence” to CPM leader Gurucharan Mahato. This was followed by another public meeting on Friday in Sirsi village where they also decided to kill Baren Mahato, a ration dealer. Ironically, Sirsi village is just 4 km away from Chandra where security forces are camping. Maoist posters found from the spots claim that they were killed for working as police informers, apart from their affiliation to the CPM.

“All I can say is a lot of work needs to be done. We are trying hard to gain people’s confidence and at the same time carry on our operation against the Maoists,” said DIG Midnapore Range Praveen Kumar.

Though the administration claims that the recent operations have made it tough for the Maoists to carry on with their attacks, the writ of the Naxals in the villages remains intact. In areas like Ramgarh and Kantapahari — declared “liberated of Maoists” by the security forces, the Naxals had recently held public meetings. Two such adalats were held by the Maoists in Dherua too. On Saturday night, the Maoist cadres allegedly set fire to the house of a CPM supporter Sudarshan Das at Nimol village in Salboni.

Despite the presence of a huge number of security personnel, the Maoists are going on with their subscription drives, which according to the police are extortion drives.

Posters of the Maoists that have sprung up in the area have warned people associated with political outfits to quit or they would “face the fate of Mahato duo”.

The families of the slain CPM supporters are living in constant fear. They were forced to perform the last rites of them in Midnapore town instead of their native villages.

“We are living in fear. Our village in Sirsi is deserted and we fear that we may be the next target. My father gave his life for the CPM but the party is not standing by our family now. We need support,” said Himanshu Mahato, son of Gurucharan Mahato.

The West Bengal Ration Dealers Association has, meanwhile, called for a strike in Midnapore district on Monday to protest against the murder of the dealer and the suspension of four others by the state government.

“If the state government does not revoke the suspension of our colleagues and provide us protection we will shut down our shops indefinitely,” said Muksed Ali, district secretary of the association. There are 1,450 ration shops in Midnapore district.

Tribals on his mind, Buddha talks development in Birbhum

Already on the backfoot by the tribal agitation in Lalgarh, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee stressed on their development during his visit to Birbhum district on Sunday.

“We are doing whatever we can for the development of the tribals in the state. We are promoting Ol Chiki language spoken by the tribals. Though the response is not good, we will, however, continue with it. We will also provide clean drinking water facilities to tribal villages where there is no proper source of water. This will be done on a priority basis,” Bhattacharjee said during his meeting with administrative officials in Bolpur.

Admitting that there are not enough doctors at rural health centres, Bhattacharjee said that he has directed the district administration to immediately fill up the vacant posts.

The chief minister also held meetings with MLAs and MPs of the area. On the acquisition of 300 acres of land by the WBIDC in Bolpur, the chief minister said the industry will soon come up on the acquired plot. “I have asked the industrialists of the district to come up with projects. If they are not able to, the state government will call in other industrialists. Here, recently there has been an investment of Rs 20 crore on small-scale industries,” Bhattacharjee said.

The chief minister also said that British Petroleum has begun work in Muhammed Bazar area where methane gas reserve was recently found.

He also said that coal industry will be developed in the district and promised electricity for all rural households in Birbhum by 2010.


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