January 13, 2009

West Bengal announces compensation for tribal women in Lalgarh

Kolkata, January 12: The West Bengal government Monday announced compensation for the tribal women in West Midnapore’s Lalgarh who had been victims of police excesses during raids November last year, officials said.The compensation would be given to 14 tribal women who received injuries during the police action.

“We’ve decided to give Rs.50,000 to a tribal woman, Sitamoni Murmu, who suffered a serious injury during the police operation. The state government will also grant Rs.25,000 to Palmoni Murmu and 12 other tribal women will get Rs.15,000 each,” Ardhendu Sen, the state home secretary, told reporters here.

Trouble erupted at Lalgarh after the police arrested some school students and allegedly heckled tribal women after the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada was ambushed with a landmine blast near Bhadutala Nov 2 while they were returning after a steel plant inauguration.

On Dec 8, almost a month after the tribal agitation was launched in Lalgarh, a committee against police atrocities, headed by tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato, kicked off an agitation. They demanded a public apology from the district police for the alleged excesses committed against them during the course of investigation into the landmine blast.

A state government-appointed panel, headed by backward classes welfare department secretary R.D. Meena, earlier submitted its report to West Bengal Chief Secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti. After examining the report, Chakraborty placed it before Bhattacharjee.“Though there was no specific report against the police officers involved in the operation, we’ve decided to take action against the inspector-in-charge (IC) of Lalgarh Sandip Singha and officer-in-charge Sushanta Rajbangshi for their role in the police operation,” Sen said. He said the state government would take action against the police officers later.

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