Friday, May 22, 2009

Meet new Palamau MP: ex-Naxalite commander in jail

In Jharkhand, one of the states worst hit by Naxalism, a former Naxal commander, currently lodged in jail, has been elected to the Lok Sabha on a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha ticket. Kameshwar Baitha’s supporters are already hailing his win as “the first success of our resolve to bring the Naxalites into the mainstream”.

Baitha defeated sitting RJD MP Ghuran Ram in Palamau, a Naxal hotbed, by 23,538 votes. This was his second attempt in Parliamentary elections. In a 2007 bypoll, he contested on a BSP ticket but was defeated. This time, he had the backing of not just the JMM and former Jharkhand minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi, who represents the Bhavnathpur Assembly seat in Palamau, but also a section of the Maoist outfit he once led.

Born to farmer Jadu Baitha in Garhwa, Kameshwar Baitha, after clearing his matriculation examination in 1975, decided against college and headed for the jungles to join the People’s War Group. He quickly rose up the ranks and became the Palamau head of the outfit. Confirming this, Palamau SP Ravi Kant Dhan said: “Everybody knows he was the zonal commander of the CPI(Maoist).”

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