December 13, 2009

Gopal Gandhi calls on Basu, bids adieu to Marxist veteran

KOLKATA, December 13, 2009: Outgoing West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi on Sunday called on veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu at the latter's residence in a farewell call on his last day in office.
Gandhi, who arrived at around 11.45 am at the former chief minister's Indira Bhavan residence at Salt Lake, exchanged pleasantries during his 10-minute visit. He told Basu about his departure for Chennai tomorrow. "I remember the days when we met in South Africa ... We often remember Kamal-di (Basu's late wife)," Gandhi told the veteran leader.
Basu, aided by his personal assistant Joykrishna Ghosh, told Gandhi that he found it difficult to carry on a conversation as his sight and hearing have dimmed with age. Gandhi and Basu presented bouquets to each other. Later, the governor told newsmen that he had first met Basu in London in 1992. "I have the privilege of having his guidance in many matters, especially in the last five years," Gandhi said. PTI


There is no denying the fact that a number of Maoist intellectuals and other opportunists in the guise of impartiality and neutrality had played a pivotal role in sabotaging industrialization at Singur, Nandigram and developmental works in West Bengal during the last three years in connivance with industrial competitors, big business houses and imperialists.
They had also worked day in and day out campaigning in favour of Mamata Banerjee and her party candidates during the last Parliamentary Elections, 2009. Apart from this, they have also been supporting Maoists and instrumental in inciting criminals and antisocials to create serious problems of law and order in the state to destabilize the Left Front Government in West Bengal.
After becoming Union Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee has constituted three new Committees to reward these Maoist intellectuals and the opportunists. Under her instruction, the Railway Board under the Ministry of Railways, Government of India has issued a Government Order bearing No. ERB-1/2009/23/33 on 9th October 2009 constituting the said committees with detailed facilities.
1. Heritage and Cultural Committee under the chairpersonship of Smt. Shaoli Mitra.
2. Passengers’ Amenities Committee under the chairpersonship of Shri Subhaprasanna Bhattacharjee.
3. Passengers’ Services Committee under the chairpersonship of Shri Derek-o-BrayenThe entire expenses of these committees will be borne by the Indian Railways.
Each full time member of the Committee will be paid Rs. 50,000/- (Rupees Fifty Thousand) as monthly salary and each part-timer will be paid Rs. 25,000/- per month.
They will be also provided with the following facilities and amenities free of cost as per the said Government Order:
A. Meeting allowance @ Rs. 520/-per day·
B. Free 1st Class AC Railway Pass with one companion·
C. Travel in Executive Class by flight·
D. Travel on road by car to be provided by the Indian Railways·
E. Lodging and boarding in Class I hotel anywhere·
F. Free telephone with ISD/STD facilities both at residence and office·
G. Free Medical treatment and facilities at the cost of the Indian Railways·
H. TA & DA at par with railway officers
I. Each and every Member of the Committees can appoint his/her own Private Secretary and of peons.
J. All of them will also be provided separate office and expenses for the same.
K.The Chairperson of each committee can enlarge his /her Committee by co-opting any person thought to be necessary.
L.The total expenditure in maintaining these three Committees comes around 50 Lakhs (Rupees Fifty Lakhs) per month.
These committees are unprecedented in the history of the Indian Railways. This is the first time that such expensive committees have been constituted at the cost of the public exchequer to accommodate sycophants and ‘so-called’ champions of tribals and downtrodden. These sycophants often used to raise the questions of nepotism, corruption and exploitation. But now they are most shamelessly drawing huge money from railway exchequer without performing any job.
The pseudo intellectuals Bibhas Chakraborty, theatre personality, Arpita Ghosh, theatre personality, Joy Goswami, poet, Bratya Basu, theatre personality, Pallab Kirtania, Singer, Rituparna Ghosh, film director, Ustad Rashid Khan, artist, GS Raitela, Director General, National Council of Science Museum, Ratan Thiyam, theatre personality and many others have been made their members. Rajesh Agarwal, Executive Director of Railway Board, will act as the Coordinating Officer.
The entire exercise is nothing but blatant misuse of power and public exchequer for the promotion of the interests of the sycophants and the party.

Marches Held Across Bengal against Communalism

KOLKATA: ALONG with the rest of the nation, Bengal witnessed marches all over the state condemning all communal acts on December 6 when the Babari Masjid was pulled down. The marchers raised slogans also in favour of democracy, peace, amity and unity.

The morning witnessed a large procession taken out in the township of Jalpaiguri where among others Bengal CPI (M) secretary and Left Front chairman Biman Basu and CPI (M) Central Committee member Mridul De were present. Over and above the programmes organised by the Bengal Left Front on the day, organisation of workers, kisans, women, youth, student, and other sections of the society participated. Other programmes held on the day included blood donation camps and cultural events.

The city of Kolkata saw a long procession held in central part of the metropolis. A resolution raised at the rally called for the safeguarding of secularism, and declared that the guilty mentioned in the Liberhan commission report on the destruction of the structure at Ayodhya must be brought to book and early. The resolution also called for the organisation of movements with participation by the working people to strengthen the edifice of democracy and secularism.

Industrial Project at Singur Would Create Jobs

B Prasant(INN): Any industrial project at Singur in Hooghly district would produce employment, and thus such endeavours are welcome. This was how Biman Basu, CPI (M) Bengal secretary, and Bengal Left Front chairman chose to comment on December 8 at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan, on the recent development around Singur.

The occasion Biman Basu referred to was a letter sent by the state Left Front government to the ministry of railways where a specific industrial proposition has been made. The proposal to the ministry is crafted around the setting up of a railway coach factory on the land at Singur from where the Tata group had earlier withdrawn its small car project, thanks to the anarchic moves by the Trinamul Congress and its lackeys plus the ‘Maoists,’ to stall the scheme on various anti-development ploys.

In another related matter, Biman Basu said that if a nuclear power project would be set up at Haripur in coastal Bengal, and with every safety precaution firmly in place, such a proposal from the union government would be favourably considered.

When Basu’s attention was drawn to the reported statement of a central minister affiliated to the Trinamul Congress about his determination to thwart such a step, he said that any obstacle put on the progress of a developmental project would be akin to blocking development itself.

Biman Basu continued to say that such statements by the Trinamuli leaders once again proved how the main opposition party in Bengal remained firmly anti-development. The senior CPI (M) leader called upon the union government and the Congress leadership to pause and think about the role of one of their governmental allies on the issue of development.


Left Parties Submit Memo to the PM

The following is the text of the memorandum given to the prime minister by the leaders of Left parties, Sitaram Yechury, Basudeb Acharia, Shyamal Chakraborty, Prabodh Panda, Manohar Tirki and Barun Mukherjee on December 4, 2009 on the irresponsible and dangerous moves of the railways minister.

YOU have called the ‘Maoists’ the greatest internal threat to the security of the country, and yet, the railway minister has kept providing these elements with her full fledged support in the media and through her declarations and acts. She has also repeatedly called for the release of Chhatradhar Mahato, named accused in murder cases. The railway minister is constantly demanding the withdrawal of joint forces from West Bengal, which will only facilitate the activities of the ‘Maoists’. Within hours of a landmine blast in West Midnapore on 27 November 2009 which killed two policemen, the railway minister denigrated the joint forces.

The said minister has claimed before the media inter alia that the violence being committed on and against the leaders and workers of the CPI(M) is not the handiwork of the CPI(Maoist) but a result of the internecine feud. She has called for the arrest of the Bengal chief minister and in the same breath, the release of Chhatradhar Mahato while repeatedly calling also for application of Article 355 and 356 in Bengal. The ‘Maoists’ receive a moral boost from her declarations and deeds and almost simultaneously the Maoist Leader Kishanji reciprocated by airing his loud suggestions that the present railway minister should be the chief minister of West Bengal.

The annexed copies of the media reports would make it clear, the All India Trinamul Congress, AITC, and the CPI(Maoist), have long been engaged in destabilising the political situation of the state by means of assassination, mayhem, arson, committing crimes on women and generally seeking to create a situation where the democratic fabric of the state is put under great duress. The ‘Maoists’ along with AITC activists are forcing people at gunpoint to join their rally and barricades.

The annexures submitted to the prime minister along with the memorandum provide a detailed list of the leaders and workers of the CPI(M) and Left Front assassinated by the ‘Maoists’ and the People’s War Group (PWG) from 2001. The number of those killed from June 2006 itself is 326. The ‘Maoists’ and the AITC have also killed scores of common men, women, children, as well as police and medical personnel.

The AITC leadership is a close patron of the leadership of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), and its supremo Chhatradhar Mahato. The annexures submitted provide examples of this state-of-affairs from media reports. Annexure III in the form of a CD contains photos that show the railway minister, Chhatradhar Mahato, and a section of the intelligentsia in confabulation in the area of Lalgarh, which has been a Maoist stronghold. The PCAPA is nothing but a mass front of the CPI (Maoist) as reports in the media have repeatedly noted.

We draw your attention to the recent declaration of the Maoist leader Kishanji that since they have provided support to the AITC at Nandigram against the CPI(M), the AITC should come forward and help them at Lalgarh and adjacent areas.

The most recent incident of the blockade of the Rajdhani Express exposes the AITC game plan further. Even as the blockade was going on and graffiti being painted on the sides of the bogies calling for the release of Chhatradhar Mahato who is presently in police custody, the railways minister blamed the Marxists, meaning the CPI(M) that has held the train up. To add insult to injury, a full 24 hours earlier to the blockade, an AITC central minister Sisir Adhikari had claimed before the media that he ‘knew that the blockade would take place.’ The source of ‘knowledge’ of this minister may kindly be probed and the nation kept informed.

At a time when the ‘Maoists’ have laid claim to the murder of an AITC worker Nishikanta Mondal at Nandigram on 22 September 2009, the railway minister keeps harping on the untruth that he was ‘killed by the CPI(M).’ On 29 November 2009, she has also said that she was privy to clues of the murder. The annexures submitted include the English translation of what has appeared in the Bengali print media on the nexus between the AITC-PCAPA-‘Maoists’ and the original reports in Bengali that have appeared in the Bengali print media.

We urge upon you to take appropriate implicational notice of the developments.

List of Trinamul Workers Killed: Bundle of Lies

KOLKATA: THE CPI(M) has altogether rejected as false the list of 83 Trinamul Congress (TMC) workers, presented by Ms Mamata Banerjee to the prime minister with the claim that these people were killed by the so-called Marxist violence in West Bengal. Addressing a press conference on December 8, the CPI(M)’s Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said the list contained the names of at least eight persons who are either not associated with the Trinamul Congress or are Leftist workers or are alive. He said the sole aim of Ms Banerjee was to somehow raise in the media the bogey of violence and deteriorate the law and order problem in the state, so that the centre is compelled to clamp the president’s rule in West Bengal.

Yechury said we have, on our part, got Ms Banerjee’s list verified and we found that this was the first list of its kind. It contained the names of some individuals who, according to Ms Banerjee’s claim, were Trinamul Workers whom the CPI(M) men killed. There is nothing new here. After the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Sangh Parivar had made the claim that karsevaks had been killed in large numbers, and their list was also publicised, but they turned out to be alive. Associated with the BJP in the past, Ms Mamata Banerjee is following in the footsteps of its erstwhile ally and indulging in the same kind of disinformation.

Yechury said Ms Mamata Banerjee had submitted her list to the prime minister in response to our publicly made challenge that she submit a list of the Trinamul Congress workers killed in inter-party violence. But the facts given in her list are wrong. Yechury said Ms Banerjee’s striving is to somehow justify the patronage she is extending to the ‘Maoists.’ In the name of violence, she for long raised the bogey of deteriorating law and order situation in West Bengal so as to compel the centre to promulgate the president’s rule in the state. Though she now no longer demands imposition of article 356 in the state, but still her plea now is for deployment of the army there.

Yechury said we would like to ask the prime minister how he would try to reconcile the contradiction that while he has described the ‘Maoist’ violence as the biggest threat to India’s internal security, a senior member of his cabinet is openly extending patronage to the “Maoists.’ Yechury said we raised this issue in our memorandum submitted to the prime minister but we are yet to receive a reply. However, we are still hopeful about getting a reply from his side.

Below we are publishing the names and addresses of the eight referred-to persons who were either not associated with the Trinamul Congress or were workers of the Leftist parties or are alive. At least two of them were never in existence.


The TMC has submitted a list of 83 persons as the “Murdered Trinamool Congress Workers.” The following points are notable.

1) At No 52 in that list is the name of Asit Sarkar. He is a renowned Maoist activist. He was with the PWG since 1988 and worked in Midnapore district. In 1996, he was their chief leader in the Jungle Mahal area; was involved in Keshpur-Garbeta operations; was widely known as “Mangal Singh” in Naxalite circles. He was arrested in 2003 and released in 2009 only. His sister, Rita Sarkar, is also a Maoist. Even Asit Sarkar never claimed his association with the TMC.

2) At No 48 of the list, the name is Md Alam of Sikharpur Rajarhat. He was killed in Skharpur on October 23, 2009. He was a resident of Bhangar and was watching a soccer match in Sikharpur, adjacent to Vedic Village, when the tension in the area spread around. Md Alam was killed when Ajijul Islam fired from his pistol. Ajijul alias “Khude” is the younger brother of Arabul Islam, TMC MLA and a close associate of Ms Mamata Banerji. Khude is absconding since then.

3) At No 73 of the list, the name is Shankar Biswas. He was a CPI(M) activist and a front ranking worker of the UCRC, the refugees’ organisation. He was killed near Taldi station in South 24 Parganas on October 26, 2009. On October 30, 2009, a large condolence meeting was organised by the CPI(M) which party leaders like Sujan Chakraborty and Shibdas Bhattacharya attended.

4) One Avijit Saha has been included in the list. He was killed in Madhyamgram of North 24 Parganas by two TMC activists.

5) As No 62, Yasin Ali Paik of Mayureswar, Birbhum, was included in the list. He was actually a child of two and a half years. He died because of chronic illness. How could a child be a “TMC worker”!?

6) At No 6 of the list, the name is Jaydeb Bag of Baruipur, South 24 Parganas. No one of that name was ever killed or even died in Baruipur.

7) At No 22, the name is Mira Nasin of Nandigram. No one of that name was ever killed. Even Abu Taher, top TMC leader of Nandigram, has denied the existence of any such person.

8) At No 71, the name is Shyamal Hazari of Bermajur, North 24 Parganas. No one of that name was murdered or died, according to the police record. In fact, no TMC activist of that name was ever there in that area.

November 9, 2009

TMC creating lawlessness in West Bengal: CPI(M)

Press Trust Of India
Kolkata November 06, 2009, 0:04 IST

The ruling Left Front in West Bengal today took a swipe at Union Home Minister P Chidambaram for telling the state government to ensure law and order, saying it was the Trinamool Congress which was responsible for "lawlessness".

"I have not heard or read of what Chidambaram has said. If he has given such advice, the state government should deal with the situation accordingly. As per the Constitution the responsibility of maintaining law and order lies with the state government," Left Front chairman Biman Bose told a press conference here.

"If the state government asks for Central help, the Centre can help," Bose said in a barb directed at the UPA government of which Trinamool Congress is an ally, soon after Chidambaram asked Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee to ensure law and order in the state following yesterday's clashes between TC and CPI(M) members in Hooghly district. "The Trinamool Congress is creating lawlessness in the state for the past few months and is resorting to falsehood to confuse the people," Bose, state secretary of CPI(M), said.

Bose said that the state government was showing any laxity in dealing with the situation.

On Chidambaram's earlier statement that the communists and the Naxalites were once comrades, Bose said, "he is confusing facts. He should look at old files which clearly document how the naxalites formed an outfit after parting from the CPI(M).”

Poland interested in modernization of West Bengal coal mines

New Delhi,Wednesday, 04 Nov 2009: Economic Times reported that Poland is keen to strengthen its business partnership and cultural ties with India. It is interested to participate in India’s drive towards modernizing coal mines and defense sectors where the private sector has been roped in as an important partner. The embassy in Delhi wishes to play facilitator in forging JVs between Indian and Polish companies.
Mr Piotr Klodkowski Poland’s ambassador to India said that Poland, with its expertise in developing underground coal mines through the longwall technology, construction of washery, mine safety and rescue measures can be an effective partner of India in developing coal mines with modern technology.
The Polish ambassador said that "As there is huge scope for improvement in the coal mining sector in West Bengal, which is one of the major coal producing state in India, Poland is keen to share its expertise in this field if it is asked for this by the state government. This will be conveyed to the state chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya who I would meet on Wednesday.”

1600 crores for Maoist-hit districts

KOLKATA,4th November,2009: The state government plans to spend Rs 1,600 crore in this financial year for the development of the three maoist affected districts West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, even though officials conceded that they were facing much difficulty to implement development works in the three districts according to plans.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will hold crucial meetings in West Midnapore on the prevailing law and order situation and will make a review of development schemes this this weekend. Going by the government claims, the CM has a tough task cut out for him. For a bounty of Rs 1,600 crore spread over four months before March 2010 means spending Rs 400 crore a month for the three districts that works out to a little above Rs 130 crore for each district. However, state officials are still not sure how to spend this huge amount when block level officers fear to tread in the Maoist-dominated villages.
A little arithmetic explains how difficult is the job spending Rs 4.2 crore a day in each of the districts. Sources in the CM's secretariat said that the government plans to execute development works. "The fact that the block level officers were facing difficulty came up during the last review meeting," a senior official said. Fact is that the task force of government officials set up to spearhead development work has submitted a plan to build civic infrastructure in these remote places. But the implementation met with a jolt due to Maoist disruption.
The CM will hold three meetings in West Midnapore on November 7 and November 8. The first meeting would be on the prevailing law and order situation with the district SP. The second meeting will be with the district magistrates, superintendent of police of the three districts where law and order situation and development schemes would be reviewed. The third meeting would take place on November 8 where the chief minister would meet the BDOs of some of the sensitive blocks of West Midnapore.

What made Chhatradhar Mahato a political fugitive

by Monobina Gupta
1 November 2009, Times of India ‎

The Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express, held up by Maoists for seven hours in West Midnapore, had this emblazoned on it: 'Chhatradhar Mahato is a good man. He is not a criminal'. Mahato, chief of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), was imprisoned just months ago, in the aftermath of the violence that followed West Bengal's election results. The slogan on the train reinforced speculation that the PCPA wanted Mahato's release - by fair means or foul.
In general, there is enormous curiosity about Mahato, who till a few months ago, did not seem to fit the bill of a gun-toting Maoist. He can certainly talk the talk. When i met Mahato in Lalgarh in March, he spoke a democratic language far removed from guns and killings. When i arrived, Lalgarh was abuzz with news of the police having picked up three villagers (supposedly Maoists), and the murder of a PCPA activist.
Mahato was under a tree in verdant Lalgarh, busy with an organizational meeting. A smartly dressed, lanky man, he wore sunglasses and sat with comrades stuffing envelopes with hand-written notices for the PCPA's next public meeting. Mahato's brother is Sashadhar, a Maoist fugitive. But Mahato himself was a political non-entity till the mass uprising in Jangalkhand following brutal police attacks on common villagers and tribals in the wake of a Maoist plot against chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in November 2008. The sudden political upheaval catapulted Mahato to the position of PCPA chief.
He said he would talk to me after lunch. The PCPA ran a community kitchen inside a mud hut and activists ate rice and vegetable curry there. This was where i met a relaxed Mahato. For a man who had been relatively unskilled, till recently, in the art of communication, Mahato talked with clarity and precision, dissecting issues, separating the strands of violent Maoist politics from the PCPA. He appeared to be getting used to his new public profile - addressing press briefings at the Kolkata Press Club and engaging with Mahasweta Devi and other intellectuals in the city. His political trajectory began with Congress.
Born in 1964, the eldest of three brothers, Mahato studied at Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapeeth and Midnapore Day College, where he had his first taste of activism as a member of Congress' student wing, the Chhatra Parishad. Those who know him well say he was a follower of Mamata Banerjee, then a Youth Congress leader. Mahato never finished college.
Later, he would join the Trinamool Congress. In 2001, when the police began randomly picking up tribals on the charge of being Maoists, Mahato's political beliefs underwent a drastic change. By 2009, even as much of the media conflated the PCPA with the Maoists, Mahato and initially the Maoists themselves, continued to insist they were distinct organizations and had different agendas.
It is true Lalgarh barred police from entry, in line with the PCPA's diktats, but the movement remained democratic, Mahato claimed, insisting the protest could not be grounded merely as a form of resistance to police atrocity. "We cannot make it the sole cause. There are development concerns - access to drinking water, more tube-wells; the issue of autonomy of Jangalkhand," he said. In addition to their original 13-point charter of demands, the PCPA later adopted a nine-point programme seeking community rights over forests and land, recognition and promotion of the Santhali language, development of the Santhali script and autonomy for the Jangalkhand area.
Mahato was clear about the extent of influence Maoists had on the PCPA. He admitted "the Maoists are there" but claimed "they are not controlling the movement. PCPA is an autonomous body. We take our own decisions after consulting village-level committees." Ten-member committees, half of which were men and the other half women, were active in the villages.
He emphasized the movement's principled refusal to allow political parties to enter Lalgarh with banners. The rallying symbol was the PCPA, the ultimate authority, he said. Did Mahato believe in 'revolutionary violence' as preached by today's Maoists? He did not seem to fit either mould - that of the founding fathers of the 1967 armed insurrection and that of their contemporary 'progeny', the Maoists.
First, Mahato never explained the Lalgarh movement in the language of Marx or Mao. 'Class struggle' and 'armed insurrection' were never the spine of his arguments. Instead, he emphasized the need to resist police repression and bring long-delayed development to the tribal backwaters.
Second, unlike the Maoists, Mahato never spoke of capturing the Indian state through insurrection. Interestingly, the PCPA and Maoists fundamentally differed in their approach to the 2009 general elections. Mahato said the PCPA was not calling for the elections to be boycotted as this would benefit only the CPM. It was a position at odds with that of the Maoists. The PCPA demanded the elections be held without a police presence. Mahato shared his comrades' apprehension that forced police entry could trigger a violent confrontation in Lalgarh. But the violence after the elections appeared to elide the distinctions between the PCPA and Maoists. Mahato and his comrades condemned state violence but seemed to turn a blind eye to Maoist killings. This is how Chhatradhar Mahato became the 'Most Wanted', a political fugitive.
Monobina Gupta's book on contemporary Left politics in West Bengal will be published next year.

Trinamool, Maoists jointly unleashing violence: Jyoti Basu

KOLKATA, 1 NOV 2009: With the crucial by-election to 10 Assembly seats in West Bengal barely nine days away, CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu today charged Trinamool Congress with joining hands with Maoists to unleash violence in the state.
"Everyday our workers are getting killed. Common people, police personnel, doctors, nurses are also slain. Our party office is burnt. Trinamool Congress and Maoists are doing this together. They are taking law into their own hands," the nonagenarian leader said in a statement. Describing the coming Assembly by-polls as "very important", Basu said, "Democracy is under attack, peace is disturbed. We had restored peace and democracy in 1977 with people's support".
Seeking support for the Leftits, Basu said, "Our result in the last Lok Sabha election was poor. Some of our sympathisers and friends had voted against us. It is not their fault. We could not take our view points properly to the people". Basu's statement, which came after the CPM-led Left Front's successive poor showing in the Lok Sabha, Assembly by-elections and municipal polls, also admitted that there were some mistakes on the part of party.

Go convince PM, Buddhadeb tells Mamata

KOLKATA, 31st OCT, 2009: Taking a dig at Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s persistent demand for withdrawal of security forces from the Maoist-affected areas in West Bengal, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said here on Saturday that she should try and convince the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister about her demand.

Addressing a mass convention organised by the West Bengal Left Front Committee, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “The Prime Minister has already acknowledged the Maoists as the country’s biggest internal threat. Perhaps the Trinamool Congress understood the point but unfortunately the party is hand-in-glove with the Maoists starting from Singur, Nandigram and till today.”
Pointing out that more than 65 supporters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were killed in the Lalgarh region in Paschim Medinipur district over the past two months, he charged the Trinamool Congress-Maoist combine with perpetrating violence in several parts of the State even as he appealed to the Trinamool Congress to sever ties with the Maoists.

“We have pledged to the people of the State to rescue the State from the Maoist menace and we are confident about achieving the same,” Mr. Bhattacharjee asserted.

Left Front State Committee chairman Biman Bose criticised the role played by a section of the media for “misinterpreting facts according to its own sweet will”.

Referring to the rapid increase in the prices of essential commodities across the country, Mr. Bhattacharjee said the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre which came to power with its “ aam-admi” slogan is unable to check the spiralling prices even when it claims to have brought down the inflation. Stating that the State Government had spent more than Rs. 1000 crore to subsidise foodgrains , he expressed the inability of any state govt to continue with such huge amount of subsidies for long. “During my meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 24, I requested him to stop forward trading in foodgrains by large corporate houses and also make the Essential Commodities Act more stringent to check hoarding,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

He added that the Prime Minister had assured him of discussing the matter with his Cabinet and also on holding meetings with the States’ Food Ministers.

Maoists have ‘always been hostile to CPI(M): KARAT

NEW DELHI, October 31st, 2009: Reacting sharply to Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s comment that the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) till recently considered Maoists as “comrades in arms”, the Left party’s head Saturday said he “has chosen to ignore the history of the Maoist movement”.

“Far from being the CPI(M)’s ‘comrades in arms’, the Maoists have always been unremittingly hostile to the CPI(M),” party general secretary Prakash Karat said in a statement.

“After they (Maoists) split away from the CPI(M) in the late 1960s, the ultra-Left elements in West Bengal targeted the party and hundreds of CPI(M) cadres and supporters lost their lives due to their depredations in the early 1970s,” Karat said.

Expressing surprise the home minister had “chosen to ignore the history of the Naxalite/Maoist movement”, Karat said it was “amusing to see Mr. Chidambaram claiming that the CPI(M) saw the Maoists as their allies in fighting the bourgeois Congress”.

Taking a political swipe at the CPI(M), Chidambaram Friday said: “Till the last session of parliament, CPI(M) had different views of Maoists. They thought they (Maoists) were comrades-in arms fighting the bourgeois Congress. They have woken up now.”

Karat refuted the home minister’s claims saying they were “misplaced” and the “fact is that the earlier (United Progressive Alliance) UPA government led by the Congress was propped up for four years with the support of the CPI(M).”
Don’t equate Maoists with Laskhar, Jaish

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) Saturday said Maoists cannot be equated with the Laskhar-e-Taiba or the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant groups.

We have always held that the Maoists have to be fought ideologically and politically apart from resort to firm administrative measures when they indulge in violence, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said in a statement.

The Maoists cannot be equated with the Laskhar-e-Taiba or the Jaish-e-Mohammed. The fact that Home Minister (P. Chidambaram) has offered to talk to the Maoists, if they stop the violence, itself recognises this difference, Karat said.

Criticising the laws that have draconian provisions, Karat said such laws have been used against hundreds of innocent people, mainly from the Muslim community in the name of fighting terror.

Chidambaram Friday said the government had not asked the Maoists to lay down their arms, but reiterated his appeal to the left wing radicals to halt the ongoing violence and come forward for talks.

WB Govt to provide boost to handloom products

October 31, 2009 (India)
In order to provide more competence to the state’s handloom products in international markets, the State Textiles and Handloom Department of West Bengal intends to work on designs of the famed traditional handloom products to enhance their demand. Ms. Arati Ahuja, the state textiles and handloom secretary, said that efforts would be taken to improve the designs of handloom saris to make them marketable in domestic as well as overseas markets. However, this improvement would be done by keeping the traditional patterns in mind as the handloom products designed in artistic way are unique in weaving patterns and designs. In this regard, the state government has initiated communications with national institutes such as the National Institute of Design (NID) and National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), which are globally recognized design institutes. Apart from this, the government has also decided to organize an International handloom exhibition for the first time in the state in February 2010, for which it has also initiated talks with the Apparel Export Promotion Council (APEC) under the Union ministry of textiles to organize the international exhibition.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

Yechury seeks better Central coordination to tackle Maoists

NEW DELHI, 30 OCT, 2009: Contesting the claim that Maoists and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were once allies, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury on Friday said Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram should ensure better coordination between West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand to defeat Maoists instead of joining issues with his party.

“I don’t understand why the Home Minister has joined issues with the CPI (M). As far as the CPI (M) is concerned Central and State forces are jointly conducting operations against Maoist violence in West Bengal. On that there is no dispute at all. Our issue is that after Union Minister of State Shishir Adhikary informed the media that he had prior knowledge of the Rajdhani Express being stopped, this should be seriously investigated because he is a member of the Union Cabinet.”

“Even earlier, there were reports of political patronage by the Trinamool Congress (TC) to Maoists and this sort of statement by a TC Union Minister confirms the suspicion. This is the issue we want to bring to public notice,” the CPI (M) leader pointed out.

Drawing attention to the fact that most Maoist attacks in West Bengal took place along its borders, Mr. Yechury wanted Mr. Chidambaram to ensure coordination between the West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand governments, and through such joint efforts, overcome Maoist violence.

On the observation that the CPI (M) belatedly realised the danger of Maoism and it was once part of a joint movement with the Maoists, Mr. Yechury wanted the people making such statements to refresh their history.

Naxalites were a small section of activists who had separated from the CPI (M) in 1967 and the party was the prime target of their “mindless attacks” in the late 60s and 70s. The violence died down after the Maoists were ideologically following a campaign conducted by the CPI (M).

According to the Maoists, the CPI (M) was providing legitimacy to bourgeois democracy and must be weakened or eliminated. Though born in West Bengal, the Maoists could not sustain the movement because the Left Front government addressed the basic issues of the people.

The present lot of Maoists have been brought from outside through political patronage by the TC, Mr. Yechury alleged.

Bengal Aerotropolis project gets first tranche of land

KOLKATA, October 30, 2009: Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL), which will be setting up the country’s first greenfield merchant airport near Durgapur in West Bengal, has got the first tranche of land of 533.5 acres.

The project, which had hit hurdles following objections raised by Coal India Ltd (CIL) over the issue of its coal deposits getting blocked by the proposed airport city, now expected to start construction by March 2010 and become operational by September 2011, Arvind Pande, Chairman, BAPL, said.

CIL sources said that the project size had been reworked to protect most of the licence areas of Eastern Coalfields Ltd., a subsidiary of CIL.

However, concerns regarding the project locking up coal deposits allotted to other companies remain. While coal deposits spread over 2.63 km was getting locked up now, keeping in mind the interest of only coal which is extractable in the near future, some amount has been sacrificed it was learnt. The 99-year lease agreement was signed between BAPL and West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), a release said adding that the integrated project was spread over about 2,300 acres and the acquisition of remaining land was expected to be over in the next few months.

Changi Airports International has picked up 26 per cent equity in BAPL which is its first investment in India, the release said. Mr. Pande said the project had already received clearance from the Civil Aviation Ministry and had attained financial closure.

Wipro's Bengal project gets new site

KOLKATA,Oct 30 2009: Wipro has decided to come back to Kolkata at the alternative site offered by the state government, much to the relief of the West Bengal government. Wipro’s confirmation has come in less than a month time of West Bengal government scrapping the much-hyped IT Park project which was supposed to IT biggies Wipro and Infosys.
Wipro officials on Friday met the Managing Director, Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) and formally communicated their consent to take possession of the alternative land (50 acre) albeit at a concessional price. On September 7, West Bengal government had scrapped its much-hyped ‘Kolkata Link’, a modern IT infrastructure project, over a land scam. On September 17, FC reported that West Bengal government offered alternative lands to Wipro and Infosys. The alternative land is also at New Town, Rajarhat.

Wipro officials also met the state IT minister Debesh Das. “They told me that they would like to develop a world class state of the art facility at this parcel of land,” Das said. "The people of several walks of life indeed want to see WIPRO to expand and Infosys to step into the state. The decision of WIPRO to start its second campus in West Bengal is quite encouraging. As said by WIPRO, I believe that this facility will augment the employment opportunity of the state to a considerable extent and will boost up the economic activities in the state. It will pave the way for the young aspiring techies of the state to be employed in their own state after their studies," Das added.

The new plot, offered to Wipro is just 15 minutes drive from the airport and on the side of a 6-lane road. It is within a complete modern township with all facilities. It may be noted that in the vicinity of this area, about 300 acres of land has already been allotted for IT and IT infrastructure companies.West Bengal government has also offered alternative location to Infosys as well. However, there has been no official communication from Infosys in this regard so far.

Mamata shielding Maoists: Bengal CM

Kolkata, 30 Oct, 2009: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, on Friday alleged Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party, the Trinamool Congress, was conspiring with Maoist rebels to dislodge his Left Front government.

Bhattacherjee alleged the Railway Police’s failure to name Maoists in the FIR lodged for the hijacking of the Rajdhani Express train on October 27 proved this. "The CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) named the Maoists and the group backed by it in the FIR. Why not the Railways? It is ridiculous that the Railways have said that they did not know who did it," Bhattacharjee told a Left Front rally in Kolkata.

"(Maoist leader) Chhatradhar Mahato's outfit PCPA, which is a creation of the Maoists held up the Rajdhani, but the names of the outfit did not figure in the Railways FIR," he said but didn’t name Banerjee in his speech.

The Railways were trying to shield the Maoists and the group backed by them, he alleged. "The Trinamool Congress is working with the Maoists to finish the Left Front. They think that they would be able to dislodge the Left Front government by joining hands with Maoists. We will unmask the Trinamool and the Maoist. We take up the challenge," he said.

The Maoist-backed PCAPA (People's Committee Against Police Atrocities) on Tuesday allegedly held up the Rajdhani Express for more than four hours at Banstala Halt near West Midnapore's Jhargram station. The over 500-PCAPA members squatted on the tracks and forced out the train's drivers at the halt station near the Antapani jungle.

After several tension-filled hours, which saw a police team proceeding to the spot ambushed by the Left wing rebels, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers and state policemen finally took over the train. None of the passengers was injured. The train reached New Delhi on Wednesday night, almost seven hours late.

PM under fire over Mamata's Naxal stance

Mail Today Bureau
New Delhi, October 30, 2009

Manmohan Singh's parrying of questions relating to Mamata Banerjee in Srinagar on Thursday afternoon was clear evidence that the government is no longer immune to the implications of a cabinet minister playing footsie with the Maoists. The Prime Minister was quizzed on Banerjee's reported remarks that there were no Maoists in the country. " I have not seen this statement. Obviously, the Maoist threat is a reality and the government is dutybound to deal with it," he said.
The PM then went on to stress that the Maoist issue had to be dealt with in a holistic way that included enforcing law and order and carrying out development in tribal areas. But the Trinamool Congress chief apparently has more pressing concerns than the government's discomfiture.The prime among them is the 37 assembly seats in the Maoistdominated Purulia, Bankura and Midnapore districts in West Bengal. Trinamool Congress is not the party of choice for the voters of this region.
However, the anti-Maoist offensive in Lalgarh has inflamed a suppressed ire against the ruling party, and Mamata is keen to harvest electoral benefits.So the railway minister refrained from categorically distancing herself from the radical outfit. Indeed, her initial response to the Rajdhani Express hijacking was to blame the CPM. " The Maoists have denied their involvement in the incident. It might have been done by CPM cadre," Banerjee had said in New Delhi. She also addressed those behind the abduction as " friends".
The CPM seized the opportunity to demand a probe into the train hijack and charge Trinamool with " patronising and protecting" Maoists. In an editorial in the party mouthpiece People's Democracy , the CPM asked the PM to explain the role of central ministers in this regard.Clearly conscious of the dangers of such accusations, it was left to P. Chidambaram to fight the CPM's offensive.
The Union home minister attacked the Left, saying that its leaders like Prakash Karat should first ask the West Bengal government about what was happening in the state.But his ministry asked the railway ministry to ensure that at least a dozen armed escorts are posted on all Rajdhani, Shatabdi and other superfast trains running through Naxalitehit areas. It also warned railways there were intelligence inputs about Maoists targeting more trains in the next six months.

Congress backs Mamata on Maoist stance

TNN 30 October 2009,
KOLKATA: Putting their recent differences behind, state Congress leaders came out strongly in support of Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee over her stance on the Maoist trouble in Bengal. CPM leaders have slammed Mamata, especially after the Rajdhani hold-up, saying that she goes soft on Maoists.
"I do not believe Mamata supports Maoists. She has already clarified her stand. If there is any further confusion, I am sure she will dispel that also. The railway minister is a nationalist, democratic and secular leader. She is a UPA partner," state Congress Committee general secretary Manas Bhunia said. Observer added that Mamata's stand against the Maoists on occasions had been harder than that of even CPM. When the joint operations had been launched in Lalgarh four months ago Mamata had wanted Lalgarh declared a disturbed area, which would have paved the way for deployment of the army there. Even after the detention of Rajdhani Express near Jhargram on Tuesday, she spoke about army deployment to control Maoists.
On other occasions, however, she had also suggested that the joint operations should be withdrawn as it was not yielding any result and a dialogue should be started with the Maoists. She had even offered to mediate in such a dialogue. Opposition leader Partha Chatterjee accused CPM leaders of having links with Maoists in the past, which had helped the Maoists to grow in the state. He demanded an inquiry into how CPM was spreading a "reign of terror" throughout the state.

Old names, new faces on CPM canvass trail

OCT 30,2009
Calcutta, Oct. 29: Some of the CPM’s biggest names are out on the streets for the November 7 bypoll campaign.

There’s Biswas and Chakraborty, synonymous for years with the party organisation and labour arm Citu. Then there’s Deb, a name unmistakably familiar in the city’s northern fringes.

This minute they are marching under the hot afternoon sun, the next they are sipping tea at a roadside stall with their comrades.

So Hazra resident Ibha Basu, 78, could hardly be blamed when her eyes widened with surprise at the sight.

Except that Biswas is a young woman of 28, Chakraborty is “in my late 20s” and Deb is 21. They are the daughters of Anil Biswas and Shyamal Chakraborty, and the son of housing minister Gautam Deb.

“Shob to bachcha chheley meye, era ki notun neta netri (they’re all kids, are they the new leaders)?” is what Ibha asked as she saw Ajanta and Usashie lead 400-odd young campaigners in Mamata Banerjee’s citadel, Alipore.
“Youths form an important part of my campaign strategy,” said Kaustav Chatterjee, 30, Alipore candidate and state secretary of party students’ wing SFI.

Shaken by the poribortoner hawa (winds of change), the CPM has decided to present a youthful face in the 10 bypolls, fielding younger candidates and campaigners.

So, Ajanta, 28, an active member of the West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association, and Usashie, a budding actress who has been paired opposite Prosenjit in Houseful, are canvassing door to door in Alipore.

Saptarshi Deb is campaigning in Belgachhia East for Romola Chakraborty.

“Most people join Left politics when they are students. It’s been the same for me, my father and several senior leaders of our party,” said Ajanta, who was an SFI leader when she was a student of history in Presidency College.

Many of today’s politburo members began their rise up the party organisation since their student days. Prakash Karat was an understudy of A.K. Gopalan while Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose were Promode Das Gupta acolytes.

But with the winds of change blowing across Bengal, the young could no longer be restricted to backroom operations, a CPM veteran explained. The party needed to experiment by fielding them in the election battle.

“At least a third of our candidates in almost every election now will be from the younger sections,” Rabin Deb said. Of the 10 Left Front bypoll candidates, six are in their early 30s and many star campaigners are young.

Even some of the planners are: Ritabrata Banerjee, 30, the SFI’s all-India general secretary, is preparing the blueprint for Kaustav’s campaign.

In a constituency voting Opposition since1982, Kaustav’s chances against Trinamul’s Firad (Bobby) Hakim appear slim. But Usashie is not short of enthusiasm.

“Kaustav is a young candidate and I like him on a personal level. I want to see an honest MLA in the Assembly and that’s why I am here,” she said after a rally at Chetla Park.

As Usashie chatted with young comrades over tea at a stall, standing in the shadow of a hammer-sickle-and-star flag, several bystanders recognised her. “She’s an actress,” some whispered.

So, is dynasty politics gaining ground in the CPM? No, claim the Gen Y campaigners, who wear Fabindia kurtas or shirts paired with Levi’s denims and branded shoes, and communicate through slick mobile phones, Gtalk and Facebook.

“I’m not doing this because I’m someone’s son. I’m just doing my bit for something I believe in,” Saptarshi said.

“Family doesn’t matter,” agreed Ajanta, “it’s how much we have worked for the party and the people that is important.”

Usashie, a postgraduate in economics from Calcutta University, had a slightly different answer. She was aware of the expectations from her because of her family background, but appeared to keep some distance between herself and her party: “I am clear to myself that I don’t want to parrot the party line alone…. I want to retain my right to criticise the party.”

In contrast, Ajanta made it clear that party ideology and discipline, which she learnt from her father, meant everything to her.

Other than Kaustav, the CPM has fielded two young candidates, Mohammad Esaruddin Mandal from Sujapur and Dhanapati Roy from Rajganj, while the Forward Bloc has nominated young Ali Imran Ramz from Goalpokhor. Two RSP candidates, Binay Bhushan Karketta from Alipurduar and Philip Khalko from Kalchini, are in their early 30s too.

Little signs of the poriborton are evident everywhere in Kaustav’s camp. An SFI leader in his early 20s is using his smartphone to update his Facebook status with Che Guevara’s message: “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are my comrade.”

With inputs from Chandreyee Chatterjee

November 4, 2009


‘Maoists’ Block Train, Harass Passengers, Kill CPI (M) Worker
JHARGRAM: IN an unprecedented move, ‘Maoists’ blocked the Rajdhani Express en route to Delhi in the afternoon of 27 October at the Banstala halt near Jhargram. They threw stones on the train, broke the thick plate glass windows, injured passengers who had been, by then, reduced to hiding for life under the seats.

The turning up of a contingent of the joint forces five hours into the brigandage finally saw the train move, the passengers cursing the hooligans who had caused them untold misery, even depriving them of drinking water, not to speak of food.

The ‘Maoists’ later claimed with a touch or two of depraved pride that it had been they who had held up the train demanding the withdrawal of joint forces from the jangal mahal and release of the criminal Chhatradhar Mahato. The demands of course were never met.

The Railway minister unsurprisingly told a media briefing in Delhi the same afternoon even as the blockade was going on, that ‘Maoists’ were not responsible for the act, and added to say that it had been the Marxists (meaning the Bengal CPI-M) that had done the misdeed.

In a related development, the CID on interrogating the officer-in-charge, Sankrail has found inconsistencies in the latter officer’s statements. He was reportedly unable to clarify why he had not put up a resistance when confronted by a woman activist of the CPI (Maoist) initially and why he was not carrying any side arm.

The fact of the two murdered officers in the Sankrail police station being in casual civil attire and sans fire arms, too, has kept the police puzzled. In addition, there was no sentry mounted outside of the police station. The officer-in-charge is being interrogated further. In the meanwhile, we learn that he was seen having a long conversation with two unknown persons some 300 metres from the police station the day before the occurrence took place and that the persons had their faces covered.

The state government in the meanwhile has continued to pursue with renewed vigour and persistence the cases of the two missing constables of the Bengal armed police who had been abducted by the ‘Maoists’ back in July from the jangal mahal.

The killing continues in Midnapore west relentlessly. Comrade Pratap Nayak, a member of the Andharia gram panchayat and a CPI (M) worker was returning from Binpur haat on 26 October. It was high noon. Comrade Pratap had just negotiated the bend in the bridle path in the thick of the jungle near Dulungadihi when a gang of ‘Maoists’ equipped with sophisticated high-calibre guns confronted him and riddled him with bullets. The killers then sped away deep into the forestry using paths that must have been familiar to them.

Trinamuli-‘Maoist’ Clique Involved In Abduction Case

KOLKATA, 21ST OCTOBER: EVIDENCE at hand is a clear revelation that the Trinamuli workers acted in close cooperation of the ‘Maoists’ in the killing of two police officers and the abduction of the officer-in-charge of the Sankrail police station in the afternoon of 20 October.

We learn from various sources including local villagers of the zone that the gruesome killing of the two police personnel was followed by the abduction of the officer-in-charge at gun-point. He was then taken some couple of hundred metres away from the police station and made to sit under a tree. He had his hands tied behind his back. He was never blindfolded. He was put in charge of local Trinamuli toughs as the ‘Maoists’ led by a former student of a university near Kolkata mounted the looting at the nearby bank.


The officer-in-charge was then taken on motorbike, his hands yet tied, to a ‘safe house’ close by of a Trinamuli goon at Dulungadihi under the Bandhgara gram panchayat. The route cut across the NH 6 at several places and led to the dense forestry area where the village is located. The gram panchayat is ‘run’ by a combination of the opposition groups there with covert outside support of the ‘Maoists’ and at least one splinter group of the Jharkhandis.

The next morning, the Trinamuli goons with one or possibly two ‘Maoist’ armed escorts, motorcycled the officer-in-charge to the Lalgarh area under the Binpur I block. They crossed an unused irrigation canal on the way and stopped for some time to revamp their strategy. Extensive conversation was held over satellite phones with two or three ‘Maoist’ commander-level operators in Jharkhand across the porous border. The place of stoppage was Laxmanpur, we learn.

Subsequent to that, the Trinamulis escorted the officer-in-charge to the Buxi village at Dharampur near Lalgarh. The abductors supped at this place and also undertook further confabulations with the ‘Maoists’ more of whom had by then come from across the provincial border including the self-styled supremo, ‘Kishanji.’ There ensued a bitter debate ensued as to the course of future moves.


The opinion that finally prevailed was the ‘moderate’ one among the rapidly splintering ‘Maoist’ ranks, much like the disintegration, internecine squabbles, and finally ‘comradely killings’ period of the late 1960s when the ‘Naxalite’ menace with Pradesh Congress backing threatened the democratic fabric of Bengal, leading an anti-Communist crusade.
We learn that as the ‘Maoists’ have come to find that Bengal was not like the other states, they carry their depredations in, and that here a strong left-democratic movement fulminates, and that is principally the ‘reason why’ the ‘moderate’ splinter among the killers prevailed and it was decided to call for soft terms in order to scrabble around for an excuse to release the abducted police officer.

In the whole process, a small section of the powerful media houses were kept ‘on board,’ and their views sought. The chief of an opposition political group was fully informed of the shape things were going through.


Then, instead of calling for such actions on the Bengal Left Front government’s part as the withdrawal of central forces, something that the Trinamuli supremo had all along harped on, ad nauseum, over her favoured TV network, or, for example, the release of the criminal Chhatradhar Mahato, presently in jail custody and being interrogated relentlessly, the ‘Maoists’ chose not to push the Bengal Left Front government too much and called instead for the release of 70, then 50, and then nine persons who had been in custody on suspicion of harbouring ‘Maoists’ from across Jharkhand and Orissa. The persons in fact were in line to be released without conditionalities as it happened.

Another factor underlined the isolation of the ‘Maoists’ in Bengal. This was their dependence on the Trinamuli network to organise the operation, and to get through to the media and the police with their terms, terms that weakened, as we said, by the hour. The killers also kept in mind the extreme antithetical reaction that had spread across Jharkhand and beyond among the common people especially of the rural stretches over the beheading of the hapless and abducted police officer Francis Induwar in Jharkhand some days back.


What followed after the officer-in-charge was ‘released’ to us newspersons as a ‘liberated’ ‘prisoner of war’ comprised cheap, soap opera drama, and the big media lapped it up, vying with one another to say who had actually ‘held the hand’ of the officer-in-charge first, and who had ‘led him to safety.’ Local sources have already informed us that behind the shroud-covered faces of the ‘Maoists’ on the spot, other than the ubiquitous ‘Kishanji,’ were in fact known criminals who are presently serving the anti-poor cause of the Trinamulis and the Left sectarians in the red clay areas.


Did the Bengal government ‘compromise’ in releasing the women in custody in exchange for the officer-in-charge? The answer has to be sought in the weakness rather that strength of the abductors. On the morning of 22 October when informed of the fact that a large and heavily-armed police contingent was stationed at Purnapani and were advancing on the village where the officer-in-charge was held, Bengal CPI (M) state secretary, Biman Basu who has extensive topographical knowledge of the red clay zones of Bengal told People’s Democracy, that with the Lalgarh border under a tight seal, the push from Purnapani would leave the ‘Maoists’ no choice but to put up a last gasp fight, and go under.

The police chose to back off rather that make the desperadoes go into killing the officer-in-charge out of consideration of political mileage. There is another angle to the story that reveals this. Interestingly, ‘Kishanji’ later told newspersons during the release that the brief exchange of bullets near Purnapani was ‘worrisome’ as the bullets coming in ‘would have killed the officer-in-charge.’ The latter however disclosed after release that he was indeed several kilometres away from where the face-off took place, and only faintly heard the gun shots. Thus, it is clear that had the police advanced, the Trinamuli-‘Maoists’ would have killed the officer-in-charge and then the Bengal Left Front government blamed for the incident. This was not desirable at all.


The Bengal government has in the meanwhile continued to search for the fate of the two police constables, Sabir Ali Mollah and Kanchan Gorai, who had been kidnapped earlier, and the concerned officials said that the search had indeed never have been called off at any point of time. It is nonetheless feared that the two police personnel may well have been taken away to Jharkhand. When asked by newspersons about the condition of the two police constables, ‘Kishanji’ was irritatingly vague saying that since ‘another commander’ was ‘in place’ at that point of time he was not able to come up with any ‘answer or clarification.’

By B Prasant

October 21, 2009

W. Bengal Law Minister visits Maoist affected West Midnapore

West Midnapore, Oct 21 (ANI): West Bengal Law Minister Rabilal Maitra visited West Bengal’s West Midnapore district on Wednesday. The visit was held a day after armed Maoists stormed a police station at Sankrail in the district and killed two police personnel besides abducting another police officer.

The Maoists, including women combatants, attacked Sankrail Police Station and robbed at least 19 firearms and several rounds of ammunition. The officer-in-charge of the police station was taken hostage.

Maoists have been demanding the release of an elusive tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato, who has been spearheading an agitation since November last year against alleged police excesses in West Midnapore’s troubled Lalgarh area. Mahato, leader of so-called 'People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA)', which has been spearheading agitation against alleged police atrocities, was nabbed from Pirka region, near Lalgarh village.

Police nabbed Mahato when he was about to give an interview to a journalist. Mahato had been giving regular interviews when the paramilitary forces and the state police had launched the anti-Maoist operations in Lalgarh, the place declared as a liberated zone by the Maoists, on June 19 forcing him to go underground for some time.

Mahato had a free run for nine months with the police withdrawing from the camps, before the paramilitary troops recaptured Lalgarh from the Maoists who were fuelling the local agitations.


KOLKATA,21st October,2009: The process of holding a series of rallies and demonstrations against the anarchic tactics of the Trinamul-‘Maoist’ combine has continued with fervour across Bengal. The jangal mahal has witnessed lengthy marches whilst the rural and urban areas elsewhere were the scenes of mass meetings where the speakers were members of the central and the state committee of the CPI(M). The district of Hooghly where the opposition ha started to attempt at machinating anarchic conspiracies has seen big rallies held across the entire region under the aegis of the CPI(M) and the Left Front.

Nonetheless, the killings of CPI(M) workers have continued as the opposition becomes more and more desperate. Trinamulis have killed comrade Sheikh Hasibul at Arambagh. Comrade Subir Ali Mollah faced martyrdom in the hands of Trinamul assassins at Rajarhat in north 24 Parganas. Hutments of kisans and khet mazdoors have been out to the torch in several districts if south Bengal.

Elsewhere in the jangal mahal, a witness to the murder back on 28 August of CPI(M) worker comrade Mongal Soren was hacked to death by suspected ‘Maoists’ on 20 October. Even a child was not spared by the Trinamuli goons at Dhaniakhali in Hooghly. Eight-year-old Rahul Ruhidas was killed simply because they could not get to his father, CPI(M) worker, Ranjan Ruhidas.

In a grisly event, on 20 October, two police personnel were killed by a gang of ‘Maoists’ at Sankrail in the Jhargram sub-division of Midnapore west. The policemen were on duty at the station when they were riddled with bullets and the killers abducted the officer-in-charge of the police station. They looted arms and ammunitions from the station and also robbed a bank nearby.

Later, appearing in one after another of the big media television channels, the self-styled ‘Maoist’ leader ‘Kishanji’ said that the OC ‘is held as a prisoner of war,’ and called for the release of all ‘Maoist’ activists held on such charges as murder and conspiracy to murder, from jail.

Biman Basu, secretary of the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) has condemned all the killings, abductions, and mayhem indulged in by the killers of the rainbow opposition in Bengal and has called upon all the CPI(M) units, at all functional levels, to organise protest demonstrations against the counter-democratic acts. Campaign against the price rise and food security is also continuing in Bengal in different forms. All Left mass organisations are also campaigning on the issue along their own organisational demands

Interesting has been the role of the Trinamuli chieftain’s favourite media channel, the Star Ananda in this regard. While the chief herself would not make any comments on the Sankrail incident in condemnation, she even desisted from a rally she was scheduled to address in downtown Kolkata later on that day, the channel suo motu issued a ticker at the bottom of the screen noting that the chief was ‘heart-broken, and grief-stricken.’ At what or from what she suffered those feelings, however, never received a mention in the hurly-burly of getting to initiate a blame-game against the Left Front government as being responsible for all ‘Maoist’ attacks.

Earlier, a TV channel has trod onto the secret blueprint of a game-plan of the rainbow opposition at Salt Lake. In the guise of a festival anniversary meeting, the Trinamuli chief, her chosen foot-soldiers, known ‘Maoists,’ and the creamy layer of the ‘civil society,’ were to meet top ‘Maoist’ leaders at a rendezvous in a certain quarters of the township. On espying the TV cameras running, the Trinamulis and their ‘Maoist’ musclemen heckled the TV camera crew as well as the young woman who was the reporter for the channel. The goons even had the temerity to lodge a complaint at the nearest police station that the TV crew were sent to ‘kill their leaders.’

In order to put up a smokescreen to hide this found misdeed, the Trinamuli leader of the opposition along with two other MLAs descended on the Writers’ Buildings and staged a dharna before the office of the personal assistant of the chief minister and loudly called for the chief minister’s arrest, no relevant ‘reasons why’ were never a part of the shouting brigade. Later, the police had these worthies removed and later released them on PR bonds.

Using the pretext of the arrest, the Trinamulis took to the streets the next day, burnt buses, wrecked vehicles, put up road blocks, and generally did their worst to bring life to a standstill, failing expectedly in the attempt. Biman Basu has called these tactics ‘semi-fascist and terroristic’ and has said that ‘such moves would encourage the forces of anarchy of every description in the state.’ Biman asked the Party units to be voluble in their protests against all attempts at to organise attacks on the democratic fabric exiting in Bengal.(INN)

October 20, 2009

Maoists kill one police official, kidnap two in West Midnapore

KOLKATA, 20 oct, 2009: In a blatantly daring operation, the banned CPI (Maoist) cadres on Monday killed one police official of the Sankrail police station in the Maoist-infested West Midnapore district injuring another seriously and kidnapped the officer-in-charge of the police station and one assistant sub-inspector.
The gang of about 25 armed Maoists including some women, attacked the police station and also looted arms and ammunition including a few sophisticated AK 47 and AK 56 rifles before they escaped on motorcycles into the dense jungles. The armed Maoists also looted more than Rs 9 lakh from a nationalised bank’s Kesiapara branch which was very close to the police station.
They have also put up posters in the Sankrail police station demanding release of Chhatradhar Mahato, leader of the Peoples Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA). CPI(M) central committee member Md. Salim have condemned the incident. West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee held an emergency meeting at the Writers’ Buildings immediately after the reports of Maoists attack reached the state administrative headquarters. He also expressed sorrow over killing of the police official. West Bengal chief secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said their first job would be to rescue the abducted police officials. Joint forces, however, reached the police station on Tuesday night.
Maoist leader Kishenji has admitted that the killing of the police official, attack at the police station and kidnapping of the police officials have been their handiwork. He also threatened the state administration not to make any attempts to send any senior official at the area. "If such an attempt is made, the abducted police officials will be beheaded." Tuesday’s incident at Sankrail police station was the most dreaded operation the Maoists had carried out in Lalgarh and the entire Jangalmahal ever since the joint operation by the central force and state armed police had begun in the region in July this year.
The police station was attacked only a few days ahead of the proposed visit of senior state government officials at Lalgarh to supervise the operations being carried out by the West Midnapore district administration. Incidentally, the director general of police, Bhupinder Singh was also in West Midnapore district on Tuesday when the Maoists attacked the Sankrail police station and killed one police official. Singh was holding a meeting with senior district police officials at Midnapore town. He and the superintendent of police, West Midnapore district Manoj Verma, rushed to the Sankrail police station immediately after they came to know about the attack.

The police station is surrounded by thick forests and the Maoists had taken this advantage to attack it which was supposed to provide support base to the Central force and state armed police personnel in carrying out flushing out operations against the Maoists. The Maoist activists, all on motorcycles and carrying sophisticated arms and ammunition with them, attacked the police station all on a sudden at about 1-30 p.m. They took not more than 20 minutes to complete their operation in which some female Maoist activists also took part.
Police sources are not ruling out the possibility of the fact that the Maoist squad which conducted operation at the Sankrail police station was hailed either from adjoining states of Jharkhand or Bihar. The West Bengal police have already contacted the two neighbouring states and sought their help to nab the Maoists, whom the police suspects, have crossed over the Bengal-Jharkhand border.
West Bengal governor Gopal Krihsna Gandhi, in a statement, has condemned the attack on the police force. "The killing and abduction of police personnel in West Midnapore is a despicable act. Left wing extremists must realise that no just causes can be secured by such diabolisms, retribution will overtake them."
The Maoists had gunned down the second officer of the police station, Dibakar Bhattacharjee at the police station. They have abducted the officer-in-charge, Atindranath Dutta and one assistant sub-inspector Swapan Roy and had not released them till late on Tuesday evening.

War on Maoism by other means

Marcus Dam
KOLKATA: A team of officials will be visiting the Lalgarh area of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district on Tuesday as part of the State government’s plans to expedite development work in the region. Joint security operations by paramilitary forces and the State police are under way in the region to flush out Maoists and activists of the Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee.
The State government has been planning for greater development of the region that has been severely affected by months of strife in the wake of left-wing extremism. The joint operations by security forces against the Maoists had begun on June 18.
The delegation will visit the area and discuss with the authorities how to take the development process forward and restore the confidence of the people in the local administration, Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said here on Monday. Officials had earlier visited Lalgarh and held talks with district authorities on development initiatives that included rural electrification, digging of tube-wells and improving of health care facilities.
The delegation will, among other things, take stock of the progress made on these initiatives, it is learnt. The government is trying to put in place development plans not just for the Lalgarh area but the entire tribal belt in the south-west region spanning parts of adjoining Bankura and Purulia districts.

Mr. Chakraborty, accompanied by Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen and the Director-General of Police Bhupinder Singh will be visiting the area on October 27 to discuss administrative and security issues with officials.

They will review the progress of the operations against the Maoists, some of whom continue to be in hide-outs in the forest even though areas in Lalgarh that had remained out of bounds to the police and the civil authorities since November 2008 had been reclaimed by the security forces. The future of the security operations were discussed by West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at meetings with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister in New Delhi earlier this month.
THE HINDU, KOLKATA, October 19, 2009

October 18, 2009

Foreign spies may have sneaked into Lalgarh

Caesar Mandal, TNN 17 October 2009, 11:00am IST
KOLKATA: Two English-speaking foreigners had sneaked into Maoist-dominated Lalgarh in April this year and stayed undetected for weeks after the security forces started their crackdown on June 18. Police and intelligence agencies have been thrown into a tizzy after this revelation.
The identities of these two foreigners have not yet been established, nor what they were doing there. The duo apparently changed locations repeatedly between Bengal and Jharkhand and went around asking villagers about the troubles in the area and whether they knew anything about Maoism. Officials here are worried about the possibility that they might be foreign intelligence agents.
What caught the police's attention first was two locally made toilet commodes discovered during a raid in Bahdodihi village near Ghatsila, Jharkhand, bordering West Midnapore and Purulia in Bengal. Police were immediately suspicious because local people do not use such things. They asked around if any outsiders were in the area. They were stunned to know that two gora sahibs' had been there since April. One of them called the other David'. They spoke in English and often talked to villagers with the help of an Indian interpreter.
Villagers of Patamda in Jharkhand told police that the foreigners regularly visited the local marketplace and even came to their homes, took pictures of the locality and talked to them about their poverty and Maoism. When students of local missionary schools asked the sahibs where they had come from, the duo said they had come to do some research work on behalf of a foreign agency.
Jharkhand Police found their traces in Jharkhand's Chakulia and Lalgarh in Bengal. When PCPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato was arrested from Lalgarh, police specifically asked him about the two foreigners. He apparently admitted knowing some foreigners were around, but claimed he had not met them. A lot of foreigners journalists and NGO workers had come to Lalgarh during the agitation, Mahato said.
Officers believe the mysterious duo entered Jangalmahal from the Jharkhand end, when police were busy preventing rights activists such as Medha Patkar and Gopal Menon from entering Lalgarh. Intelligence agencies indicate that these foreigners came in with the Maoists and had been working among the tribals for months before the Lalgarh operation.
The Bengal CID is sending a team to interrogate arrested Maoist leaders in Jharkhand to learn more about the foreigners and cross-check the information with what Mahato and arrested Maoist leaders have told them. According to police, Maoists have been getting funds from within the country and abroad including a Norway-based agency but the cops are yet to nail them.
CPI(Maoist) politburo member Kishanji, however, rubbished such claims and said that foreigners had never come to the organization during this phase. Police in two states, though, are sure about the presence of the sahibs' in Lalgarh and other Maoist-dominated areas.
Meanwhile, Police produced PCPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato before a Jhargram court for examining his handwriting. Mahato was asked for a specimen signature, but he refused to give one.
The prosecution, on October 1, had submitted a petition, showing some hand-written documents that were seized from Mahato's residence. It said that comparing it with the PCPA leader's handwriting was very essential, as police firmly believe that the documents were written by him.

Congress declares candidates for West Bengal

New Delhi: Congress today declared its candidates for the by-elections to West Bengal assembly. For the assembly by-polls in West Bengal, Bishun Munda has been made the candidate from Goalpokhar, Golam Rabbani from Sujanpur and Hamidur Rehman from Sujanpur assembly seat, a party release said.

West Bengal Govt to go ahead with Nayachar chemical hub plans

KOLKATA,17th October,2009: The Lok Sabha poll reverses notwithstanding, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government hasn't given up on its industrialization hopes around the proposed chemical hub at Nayachar. It is readying to draft a changed agreement for the Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR).

The chief minister convened a high-level meeting at Writers' Buildings on Friday to do the needful. Among those who attended were other members of the Cabinet sub-committee on industries finance minister Asim Dasgupta and industries minister Nirupam Sen. Others present were land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, Left Front chief whip in the state Assembly, Md Masin, and industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen.

According to sources, the meeting was on several industry-related issues, including the PCPIR. Nandigram had figured prominently as the venue for the mega chemical industrial estate and the PCPIR that was to come up near Haldia when the plan was first floated in 2005, and the subsequent agreement was drafted on these lines. After the bloody resistance to the choice of venue (which, experts feel, was a major cause for the Left's reverses), the government has decided to keep its promises unchanged, keeping an eye on the 2011 Assembly elections.

Nayachar is a 64 sqkm island on the Hooghly in East Midnapore. Prasoon Mukherjee, director of New Kolkata International Development (NKID) which through a joint venture with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) is to develop the infrastructure on the island had earlier said the PCPIR is an expense account for NKID, but the government is bent on going ahead with the project.
A senior Writers' official revealed that the revised agreement, with Nayachar as the changed venue, will now have to be clinched between the state, the Centre and NKID. He said those attending the meeting discussed the draft as well as other industry-related issues, such as granting subsidy to Cals Refinery, which will partner the PCPIR. NKID is a 50:50 joint venture between Mukherjee's Universal Success Enterprises Limited, a company registered in Singapore, and Indonesia's Salim Group. Real estate developer Unitech Limited also had a minority equity interest in NKID, but it has recently sold its stake in the firm.

CIL to buy equipment worth $2 bn in 5 years

KOLKATA, 17th October, 2009: Coal India (CIL) will procure spares and equipment worth $2 billion from the overseas market in the next five years. This will mainly be procured to beef up production levels by 175 million tonne, and take up at least 134 greenfield mining projects.
Confirming the development, CIL chairman Partha S Bhattacharyya said: “We intend to increase production capacity by as much as 35 mt every year over the next five years. This will require sourcing equipment from overseas — equipment that is not manufactured in India. The cumulative value is expected to be about $2 billion over the next five years.”
Going by the target, CIL is slated to touch a total production level of 570 mt by the end of the next five years. “To achieve this, we have to source high capacity open cast mining equipment, including high capacity dumpers, shovels and dredgers for mines. All these are not manufactured in the domestic market. A part of the procurement will also go into replacing existing old equipment,” said a senior CIL official.
Incidentally, CIL’s effort to take over the ailing Durgapur-based Mining and Allied Machineries Corporation (MAMC) is yet to fructify. The proposal was taken up to start manufacturing underground mining equipment at the plant since there are no established makers as on date. Once, MAMC’s debts are waived by the Centre, CIL and its partners, including Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), will be able to manufacture open cast mining equipment, too.
“It will help substitute imported equipment for both open cast as well as underground mines. However, we are still waiting for the government’s clearance,” said NC Jha, director technical at CIL. “Since MAMC is a BIFR case, the joint takeover proposal by BEML, CIL and DVC to take over the firm will now have to be passed by the high court, following which needs to be cleared by the Cabinet. BEML intends to take 48% in the company, while CIL and DVC will take 26% each,” said a CIL official. Incidentally, MAMC owed the West Bengal government about Rs 100 crore, which has already been waived. Central dues stand at about Rs 1,200 crore, and will require a Cabinet clearance.