June 17, 2009

CPI(M) asks Centre to rush para-military forces to West Bengal

New Delhi,16 June 2009(PTI): Condemning the killing of its cadre by alleged Maoists, the CPI(M) on Tuesday asked the Centre to immediately send para-military forces to West Midnapore district in West Bengal. In a statement, the party's Polit Bureau said armed Maoist gangs were unleashing a "reign of terror" in Lalgarh area of West Midnapore.

"Nine CPI(M) members have been abducted. The bodies of three of them have been found but the others have not been traced," it said adding that the Maoists were entering West Bengal through the Jharkhand border.The party demanded that the Centre should "immediately rush the required number of para-military forces to the area as requested by the State Government".

It claimed that its members and supporters are being targeted and hounded out of the area, and party offices and houses of CPI(M) workers are being destroyed."The Maoists are using poor tribals as human shield to further their goals. Shockingly, these depredations have the indirect and direct support of important sections of Opposition political parties in West Bengal," it alleged.

The party also asked its units to protest against the killings of CPI(M) cadre and supporters in west Bengal.

June 16, 2009

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The Polit Bureau strongly condemns the killings and attacks by armed Maoist gangs on CPI(M) cadre and the reign of terror unleashed in the Lalgarh areas of West Midnapore district, West Bengal. Nine CPI(M) members have been abducted. The bodies of three of them have been found but the others have not been traced. The Maoists are using the Jharkhand border areas as their base to extend into West Bengal. CPI(M) members and supporters are being targeted and hounded out of the area and Party offices and houses of CPI(M) workers are being destroyed. The Maoists are using poor tribals as human shield to further their goals. Shockingly, these depredations have the indirect and direct support of important sections of the opposition political parties in West Bengal.

In Burdwan district, a respected district committee member of the CPI(M) Com. Falguni Mukherjee was shot dead at point blank range by hoodlums connected with the Trinamool Congress.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) calls upon all its units to protest against these killings of CPI(M) cadre and supporters in West Bengal. It appeals to all democratic minded people to condemn these attacks and come forward in all possible ways to protest. It calls upon the Central Government to immediately rush the required number of para military forces to the area as requested by the State Government.

Maoist threat looms over Bengal

16 Jun 2009, 1249 hrs IST, Times Now

Maoists are having a free run barely a hundred kilometres from Kolkata in Lalgarh. The area has now become out of bounds for law-enforcement personnel and the once CPM bastion is now at the mercy of the Maoists as they unleash terror, tearing down party and police establishments. The TIMES NOW team travelled to this Maoist stronghold to capture some chilling footage and get a ground report.

The team’s path was first blocked by young and old in the Maoist ‘free zone’ near Lalgarh, and had to plead with the villagers before being allowed to go further. We were surprised to find people of Dharampur village in Midnapore district engaged in a wild celebration, looking on as the house of a CPM leader was being demolished.

The outburst of anger and triumph was unprecedented. People had gathered with crude arms and were singing and dancing in celebration after having forced out all the CPM leaders and their cadres out of the village. The move added more territory to their so-called ‘free zone’.

As the TIMES NOW team further into the village we found more war-like symbols of victory – CPI(M) symbols smashed to the ground and a young man trying to bring down the roof of a house. A more chilling sight for that of an unclaimed dead body - of a CPIM leader - lying outside the CPI(M) party office for the past three or four days. The office itself had been set on fire by angry villagers.

Of course this little rebellion is backed by the Maoists, who may not stand out in the crowds but are certainly armed to the teeth.

"We are in the forefront of the people's movement here. Buddadeb (Bhattacharya) may deny it but you can see,” Bikas, a Maoist activist says.

With the CPIM office on fire and their cadres nowhere in sight, it’s a sign that the Maoists are slowly by steadily taking control.

Maoist attacks on Bengal police

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/06/16 10:34:10 GMT

Maoist rebels in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal have attacked police camps and demolished the house of a local communist leader.

The bodies of four workers of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) were recovered in the restive jungle region of Lalgarh.

A further four are missing. Police say they may have been killed or kidnapped.

Rebels have taken almost total control of Lalgargh in West Midnapore district since last November, reports say.

About 6,000 people have been killed in violence linked to Maoist rebels in India over the past 20 years.

They are active in states across east and central India - the so-called "red corridor". Last week more than 20 police were killed in the eastern state of Jharkand.

Police 'non-existent'

In the latest incident, rebels ransacked and torched at least three police camps after entering the Dharampur area of Lalgarh on Monday.

They also destroyed the house of a local communist leader who managed to flee his home, reports said.

The rebels have also made their presence felt in around 170 villages in Lalgarh, threatening supporters of the state's ruling communist party and warning them to leave the area, reports said.

The district has experienced unrest for a number of months.

Tribal people in Lalgarh launched violent protests and strikes against the police in the area last November.

The protests came shortly after former federal minister Ram Bilas Paswan narrowly escaped a landmine explosion set off by suspected Maoist rebels.

The BBC's Amitabha Bhattasali says that Lalgarh has remained under almost total control of the Maoists ever since then, with the police and administration virtually non-existent there.

At that time a serving police officer in West Bengal caused controversy by refusing to command a camp in district. He is reported to have told colleagues he would rather resign than risk his life.

Analysts say that Maoists operate in 182 districts in India, including some in West Bengal.

The rebels say they represent the rights of landless farmhands and tribal communities. They have attacked police outposts and enforced strikes in India's mineral heartland.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the Maoist movement the "biggest threat to India's national security".

Maoists take over part of India's West Bengal state

South Asia News

Jun 16, 2009, 12:16 GMT

New Delhi - A Maoist-backed organization of local tribal people has virtually taken over Lalgarh, an area of India's eastern West Bengal state, and set fire to police camps and offices of the ruling party, news reports said Tuesday.

Hundreds of supporters of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) set fire to police camps in the villages of Salboni, Rangarh and Dharampur in the early hours of Monday, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

They also demolished offices of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), a leading partner in West Bengal's ruling leftist coalition.

The locals were accompanied by armed cadres of the CPI-M, which is spearheading the rebellion in the area.

Lalgarh town and adjoining villages in West Midnapore district have seen widespread unrest by local tribes since November when the Maoists supported the formation of the PCPA to organize protests against alleged police atrocities.

Barely 200 kilometres north-west of the state capital Kolkata, Lalgarh has been a virtual no-go area for the local administration since late 2008 and the media has largely been barred.

On Monday, the media was allowed in and television channels showed drumming, dancing villagers celebrating.

PCPA leaders were quoted as saying that they were not responsible for the arson or demolitions but that it was a spontaneous expression of anger.

Most local officeholders of the CPI-M as well as police fled the area before the attacks took place.

At least three CPI-M cadres were killed during the violence and two more were missing, PTI news agency reported.

Three police posts were ransacked and set on fire along with a local office of the CPI-M.

Television channels filmed PCPA members demolishing a new two-storey house belonging to a local CPI-M leader on Monday.

After the demolition, a leader of the Communist Party of India-Maoist, identified as Bikash, gave a press briefing with his back to the camera and an AK-47 rifle slung across his shoulder.

'The ground here is already ready and waiting for us. A child is about to be born and we are playing the role of the nurse who will deliver it,' he said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya called a meeting of top officials to discuss future action in Lalgarh.

Bhattacharya narrowly escaped a landmine blast triggered by the Maoists when he was passing through the area in November 2008, following which, locals allege, the police atrocities increased with illegal detentions and torture.

Maoist guerrillas who operate in 13 Indian states say they are fighting for the rights of the landless, poor and tribal people.

They usually target security personnel and government installations.

According to unofficial estimates, at least 400 people, including rebels, have been killed in Maoist violence since January 2009.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist insurgency as one of the gravest internal security threats facing India.

Maoist went on a rampage in Lalgarh

LALGARH,17th JUNE, 2009: Call it the growing power of Maoist movement or the weakening state government, the Maoists are now controlling the Lalgarh block in West Midnapore district just 170 kms away from here, pushing the ruling Left Front government on the back foot.

The Maoist went on a rampage, yesterday, in Lalgarh and ransacked CPI (M) zonal secretary’s home and party’s office before setting it on fire. Armed with automatic weapons they targeted CPM cadres and police and called the West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya as their main target

What’s shocking is the virtual no-resistance being offered by the state government as the Maoists go on with plan to capture the area. In fact, the police forces in the areas was told to withdraw from the area following the rise in tension - the CRPF forces have refused to go to the area unless they are given the permission to fire.

The current situation was precipitated when the body of a CPM worker, Shalku Soren, who had died while fighting the Maoists, was brought here on Sunday. But the party cadres had to leave the area fearing for their own lives as they were clearly outnumbered by the Maoist People's Liberation Guerilla Army cadres.

The leader of the troublemakers Bikash while talking to the media said, “The ground here is already ready and waiting for us. A child is about to be born and we are playing the role of the nurse who will deliver it."

The Maoists who are said to be 400 in numbers had targeted Buddhadeb last year on November 2, but their landmine blast narrowly missed him.

"On November 2, our plan was to execute Buddhadeb Babu. If West Bengal wants Buddhadeb hanged, who will hang him. It will be us of the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army," said Bikash.

The West Bengal government is due to meet today to decide upon their future course of action so as to ensure that the state’s writ is established again in the area.

CPM is target as violence rages in Bengal; Maoists, TMC on the loose

Express news service

Posted online: Tuesday , Jun 16, 2009 at 1138 hrs

Kolkata : The post-poll violence in West Bengal continues unabated with CPM’s Burdwan district committee member shot dead this morning by alleged Trinamool activists and its party offices and police camps set ablaze in Lalgarh by suspected Maoists.

Prohibitory orders in Lalgarh proved ineffective as thousands of tribals and members of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), heavily armed with traditional weapons, went on the rampage setting fire to police camps and CPM party offices at several places with a hapless administration watching.

As the PCPA procession meandered through the villages, at least three police camps vacated — fearing attacks by Maoists — were set on fire at Salboni, Ramgarh and Dharampur. The mob also torched the CPM office in Dharampur and attacked the house of Anuj Pandey, a powerful CPM zonal committee member of Binpur under the Jhargram constituency. The mob ransacked Pandey’s house who fled the area.

“The administration is sitting mum and we have been asked to leave the area by our party,” said Pandey. “Villagers are running away as there’s no security. Our men are butchered every day. Seven members of our party are missing. We are suspecting they have been killed as well.”

Several hundred tribal families, owing allegiance to the CPM, have also fled over the past two days taking shelter in Jhargram.

District Magistrate N S Nigam admitted there was an exodus from the affected areas of Lalgarh-Dharampur. A team of six CPM MLAs from Jhargram today met Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty demanding security for party workers. Central police forces were withdrawn from five camps — Jherua near Midnapore, Kaima in Salboni, Belatikri and Dharmpur near Lalgarh and Ramgarh — early today fearing attacks by Maoists. Manoj Verma, SP, West Midnapore, admitted that otherwise, Maoists would have attacked these camps and looted arms and ammunition. “We imposed Section 144 but the administration was not in a position to implement the orders. We do not have orders to fire,” said Nigam.

If the Maoists are on the loose in Lalgarh, in the CPM bastion of Burdwan, it was supporters of the Trinamool Congress. At 9.30 am, CPM district committee member and an office-bearer of the Zilla Parishad, Phalguni Mukherjee, was stopped by three men who forced him to get off his bike and remove his helmet, police said. They then fired at Mukherjee point blank.

Sources said Mukherjee, shortly before his death, mentioned the names of two people known to be close to the CPM but party sources said these two had quit the CPM long ago to join the Trinamool. Said CPM Burdwan district secretary Amal Haldar: “The opposition TMC is trying to create anarchy and lawlessness in the state.” Local CPM cadres set fire to three houses and the party has called a 12-hour bandh in Burdwan tomorrow.

TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said the murder was an outcome of CPM infighting and the TMC had “no connection with the incident.”

Solar power breakthrough in Bengal

JAMURIA (Raniganj),16 Jun 2009: An abandoned thermal power plant in Asansol has been converted into a mega solar power generating station - perhaps the only instance in the world where a high-carbon power unit has been replaced by a zero-carbon one.

What’s more, the 2-MW project marks the first time in India that a solar project has crossed the megawatt threshold and is poised to give a huge fillip to India’s renewable energy ambitions.

It’s being considered the first significant climate-responsive project in South Asia and marks the culmination of solar man S P Gon Chaudhuri’s lifetime dream. Six years ago, the diminutive man who is a giant figure in the Indian solar space, won the Ashden award, better known as the Green Oscar.

“This is empowerment of India in green energy and demonstrates the country’s intent and ability to be climate responsive in the energy sector. It has already catalyzed commercial interest in solar power that has been shunned by private companies till now due to high capital investment and a longer break-even period,” said Gon Chaudhuri, managing director of the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation.

In a few years, with the use of nanotechnology, the cost of setting up a solar power plant will be reduced by half, thereby negating the argument that mass producing solar power is cost prohibitive.

At present, capital investment in a solar plant is Rs 15-18 crore per mega watt - four times that of thermal energy at Rs 4-5 crore/ MW. The cost is expected to be slashed by half and efficiency doubled when nano technology is integrated in solar cells in 4-5 years.

The project is located in Jamuria, 20 km from Asansol and 210 km from Kolkata, in the heart of India’s coal belt. A 6-MW coal-based thermal power plant of Dishergarh Power Supply Co (DPSC) once stood on the 8-acre plot that is now the site of the solar project, comprising 9,000 crystalline type solar modules of 230 watt each. The plant will generate 3 million units of electricity a year, enough to light up 2,000 rural or 500 urban households.

The facility will save a whopping 7 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide emission a day - the CO2 that a 2-MW thermal project emits daily. The power the solar plant will generate will be fed into DPSC’s grid for distribution to customers in the Asansol-Raniganj belt.

DPSC will purchase the power at Rs 5 per unit and MNRER will pay Rs 10 per unit as generation incentive. WBGEDC can earn a further 97 paise per unit through the sale of carbon credits that the project will accrue. Annual revenue is pegged at Rs 4.8 crore. Only the US and EU member states have such large solar power units.

State-specific factors responsible for poll debacle: Bardhan

Kolkata (PTI): The process of land acquisition by the West Bengal Government to set up industry was not right, which along with some other state-specific factors, was responsible for the Left debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, CPI general secretary A B Bardhan said here on Sunday.

"We are not against industrialisation, but the process of land acquisition was not right. The state government should know how to carry on the process of industrialisation in a Leftist way within the framework of the Constitution," Mr. Bardhan said.

He was addressing the press after a two-day state council meeting at the Bhupesh Bhawan -- the CPI state headquarters.

Admitting that the Left Front Government in the state had created "some blunders", Mr. Bardhan said his party had always believed revival of the old and closed-down industries were as equally important as opening up of new ones.

Asked why it took them so long to realise this and whether they will take it up with the CPI(M), Bardhan said, "We had expressed our views within the Left Front and in different places. We will take it up in the Left Front meeting again."

He said apart from the land acquisition, there were other state- specific local issues as well which contributed to the poll setback in West Bengal and Kerala.

Three CPI(M) activists killed by tribals in Lalgarh

LALGARH(WEST MIDNAPORE),16th JUNE-Three CPI(M) workers were killed and nine others missing following a clash between the party activists and agitating tribals near strife-torn Lalgarh in West Midnapore district on Sunday.

"Three bodies have been identified and search is on to trace the missing persons. The two injured party workers have been hospitalised. An innocent woman also suffered a bullet injury in her leg," District Magistrate N S Nigam said. The clash is a sequel to the violence allegedly by tribals after the landmine blast near Shalboni on November 2 last and subsequent police "atrocities".

The tribals under the banner of 'Police Santras Virodhi Janaganer committee' (People's Committee Against Police Atrocities") were demanding stern action against police, the DM said. However, now they were driving out CPI(M) workers out of the area. Local people were fleeing the area in fear of more violence, Nigam said.