Monday, April 12, 2010

Traders protest Maoist killings

TNN, Apr 11, 2010, 03.03am IST

JHARGRAM: In the first ever reaction to Maoist killings in Jangalmahal, Jhargram traders picked up the courage to protest against the murder of Kaushik Dutta and Paban Mahato, whose bullet-riddled bodies were found lying on a road. The spot is just 3 km from the Jhargram Deer Park, which was set on fire by Maoists in December.

Maoists abducted the two on Friday when they had gone to neighbouring Lalgeria village to take meter readings of households connected to grid power. The Red rebels suspected that the two had come to gather information about them from the villagers.

The two were taken to a forest and killed there. Maoists then dragged the bodies and dumped them on the road.
Even as Maoist posters found lying near the bodies described the two as CPM supporters and police agents, Kaushik’s father Swapan Dutta, a railway employee, said his son was never involved in politics. “My son was working on contract with the local electricity office. He has left behind his wife and a little daughter,” he said.

According to locals, Paban owned a paan shop and was a friend of Kaushik. He used to accompany Kaushik when the latter went out to take meter readings.

Angry with the killings, members of the Manikpara Byabsayee Samiti detained two persons from the electronic media, saying it was because of them that the Maoists were getting away with brutality.

Sensing the mood, CPM activists set up a camp in Purba Lathisole and Sankrail on Saturday to prevent any attempts to have a Maoist ambush in Jhargram. They had set up similar camps at Enayetpur to protect Midnapore and at Keshiari and Sijua to shield the Salboni area.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee seized this opportunity to lash out at CPM. “Why is CPM setting up camps? Let the joint forces take action against the Maoists. CPM has no business in piling up arms in these camps,” she said.
The Maoist-led PCPA, on the other hand, pointed fingers at police, saying they killed three persons — Mangal Mahato of Damodarpur village, Manmatha Mahato from Jambelia and Gautam Rana of Manikpara. All three had been missing for some time.

PCPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato, meanwhile filed an application in the Jhargram ACJM’s court. Chhatradhar, now in custody, alleged that he and his associates — Raja Sarkhel and Prasun Chatterjee — were threatened with dire consequences by a section of hardened convicts.

Chhatradhar complained that when he brought it to the notice of the jail authorities, the latter told him to make peace with the other convicts. Mahato also said in his application that he was told that UAPA undertrials were far less in number — 126 — than the other convicts, whose figure stood at 950.

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