Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Police hunt for doctor who ‘helped’ Maoists

Asansol, April 19: Police swooped down on an Eastern Coalfields colony on the outskirts of Asansol town at two this morning in search of a doctor who had allegedly been treating Maoists, sometimes at home and sometimes deep in the forests of Bengal’s guerrilla turf.

Samir Biswas, 63, who had retired as superintendent of Eastern Coalfields’ main hospital in Asansol, was missing when 16 police jeeps surrounded the bungalow.

Neighbours, some of whom described the bachelor Biswas as the good doctor, said he used to frequently go missing from the quarters in which he lived even three years after retirement.

“We have launched a hunt for him,” said Burdwan superintendent of police R. Rajsekharan.

When the police knocked on the doctor’s door, Susanta, Pal, a help who has been with him for 13 years, opened it. A room-by-room search followed in which cupboards were flung open and mattresses overturned.

Pal was detained and arrested later for allegedly “waging war against state”.

The police claimed to have found Maoist literature, magazines and photographs. “We went to arrest the doctor following specific information about his Maoist links. Biswas used to treat the guerrillas and frequently visit Jungle Mahal,” Rajsekharan said.

Another officer said the police had also found bus and train tickets that suggested Biswas had travelled to Lalgarh, 175km away, and even Chhattisgarh. “In a steel trunk belonging to Susanta, we have found Maoist leaflets that asked people to war against the enemy of the people,” the officer said.

From the quarters, the team led by additional superintendent of police Prasun Banerjee went to Biswas’s ancestral house in Asansol town. His elder brother Subhas, 70, a retired railway employee, and nephew Kinsuk, a mobile phone mechanic, were detained and released later.

This is the first time the police have zeroed in on a qualified doctor for alleged Maoist links after picking up several quacks over the past few months. Officers said the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities ran at least 20 medical camps in the Lalgarh region, ostensibly for tribal welfare but actually to help wounded guerrillas.

“Biswas was actively involved in the Naxalite movement of the 1970s and had been arrested in 1971,” an Asansol officer said.

In Calcutta, officers of the CID’s Naxalite wing said he was a known Maoist sympathiser. “The CPI (Maoist) is trying to spread its network in the Durgapur-Asansol area by taking the labourers in the region dotted with small industries into confidence. The doctor enjoys the support of local people because he treats people free.”

The police apparently have transcripts of Biswas’s phone conversations that indicate his contacts with Maoists.

The ECL colony at Panchgachhia houses managers, executives, doctors and supervisors. One of Biswas’s neigh-bours, Manas Das, who was woken up by the raid, said: “We had a doctor-patient relationship… never thought he could be linked with Maoists.”

In Chhattisgarh, Dr Binayak Sen spent almost two years in jail for alleged Maoist links. The man credited by many for reaching medicine to some of the country’s poorest was finally granted bail by the Supreme Court last May.

The Trinamul Congress blocked a road for over three hours from 8am today protesting the “police harassment of a good doctor”. “He is a very helpful man. He can’t be a Maoist,” said a youth wing leader.


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