April 25, 2009


By B Prasant
Keshpur where we report was, we recall, the area that the Trinamuli chief had called the ‘Seshpur’ or the ‘end of the road’ for CPI (M). That was back in the early part of the new century. At present, nearly all the GPs of the area are run by the CPI (M) and the Left Front. Much water has flowed down the murmuring Haldi River since then.

Recently, 20 April to be specific, the evening of that date to be precise, a gang of armed raiders carrying automatic weapons descended on Keshpur and the aim was clearly to revive the jagiri and jaidaat they once had had in the area, looting, molesting women, killing CPI (M) workers, generally causing mayhem to become the order of the day.

The train of events started late in the day as the sun leaned to the west at the end of a day of swelter and sweat (the temperature reaching upto and beyong 45 deg C in the shade. The first indication was the whoop of the raiders as they shot their way into the fields at the end of which stands Keshpur. The raiders were divided into two groups. One group of 20 came in single file firing all the while, covering the second group that tried to sneak around into the village cluster using a side route.

The villagers, who had been bloodied during the earlier fray between 1999 and 2003, came out fearlessly wielding sickles, staves, and plain old lathis of slightly fearsome proportions. The villagers numbered at least 1000. Mass mobilisation started quickly thereafter and at the end one saw more than five thousand men and women come streaming out bare-handed to defend home-and-hearth, from Kendapara, Baramesa, Panichhara, and Kusumdahari village segments.

The second group of raiders found themselves between the devil and the deep sea for the first group comprising mostly of ‘Maoists’ would not allow the second group consisting largely of Trinamulis turn their back. Members of the second group hurried into the first thatched house they could find.

In the meanwhile, the first group had been put on the run despite dozens of villagers receiving pellet and bullet wounds, and the fleeing ‘Maoists’ fired wildly, hitting repeatedly the hutments where their comrades-at-armed-dacoity, hitting indeed their brethren goons more than a score of times.

When the raiders had been chased off into Midnapore west’s border with the neighbouring state of Jharkhand, the villagers returned triumphant to find three of the Trinamulis groaning from wounds in the house where they had taken shelter albeit in vein.

It was then that the villagers found among the wounded—none of the wounded are in serious condition—Budha Mahato the terror of the early 200s who stands guilty in the history sheet as a cold-blooded professional killer, having murdered three, and had kidnapped for ransom a dozen-odd persons. Along with him lay down cowering two other professional sharp-shooters named Bhakti Dala Bera and Sambhu Biswas. The fourth sharp-shooter Tarapada, a ‘Maoist’ who led the second group made good his escape in the excited mêlée that followed around the ‘captive’ killers.

The whole episode, said Professor Dipak Sarkar, state committee member of the Bengal CPI (M) who heads the Midnapore west district unit, was throwback to 30 April 2001 when under the joint leadership of the then People’s War Group (PWG) and the Rajani Dolui-Mohd Rafiq-led Trinamul Congress, to capture Keshpur but, as we chimed in, an important difference. This time, the raiders were put on the run helter-skelter, and unlike in other instances, the “Maoists’ would not carry even the walking wounded of their chums in the Trinamul Congress.

Didi must have been very, very disappointed at the entire faux pas. Keshpur cannot, would not sympathise with her. We second to that. In the meanwhile, the police have arrested the raiders left behind. The records of these worthies are fearsomely impressive as far as heinous crimes are concerned. The present episode is over. The villagers remain alert for any future recurrence.

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