October 3, 2009

Mahato had links with Maoists, says West Bengal

Marcus Dam

KOLKATA: The West Bengal administration, which has confirmed information of Chhatradhar Mahato, convener of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC), having “connections” with the Maoists, does not see anything wrong in the manner of his arrest near Lalgarh in Paschim Medinipur district. Policemen posing as journalists arrested him on September 26.

“Yes,” was Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen’s reply to questions from journalists here on Tuesday whether the State administration was sure that Mr. Mahato had links with the Maoists. Mr. Mahato has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Asked whether it was ethical on the part of policemen to pose as journalists to arrest the PSBJC leader, Mr. Sen said he was aware of such questions being raised in certain quarters. “But I am not one with them,” he said of those disapproving the way the arrest was made.

The International Federation of Journalists reportedly said in a statement that it was “deeply disturbed” by the implications of the operation. Some human rights activists have also expressed their resentment.

Responding to apprehensions of journalists that the operation could affect their functioning while reporting on events at Lalgarh, Mr. Sen said: “It might be difficult for a few days, after which all will be well and it will no longer be difficult to collect information… Telephonic interviews can always continue.”
THE HINDU,Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

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