July 22, 2009

Oust CPI(M) from Bengal by 2011: Mamata

KOLKATA,21st July: Enthused by her party’s landslide victory in the 15th Lok Sabha elections and setting her sights on the forthcoming West Bengal Assembly elections in 2011, Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee urged party supporters here on Tuesday to adopt a “positive and constructive role to oust the Communist Party of India (Marxist) from State politics in 2011.”

Addressing a mammoth rally in memory of the Youth Congress supporters killed by the police at a protest rally on this day 16 years ago as well as to celebrate the victory in the Lok Sabha elections, Ms. Banerjee said: “The Trinamool Congress is no more a mere opposition party in State politics. Just as in the recent Lok Sabha elections, we have to defeat the CPI(M) in the Assembly elections too… And we will remove them democratically and politically, without any violence.”

Many Trinamool supporters from all over the State congregated at the rally despite the rain. “Let it rain. It will usher in a shower of change in West Bengal,” she told the crowd. She offered homage to the victims of violence during the agitations at Singur and Nandigram.

Virtually kicking off her Assembly election campaign at the rally, she promised to bring about a holistic change in the fields of infrastructure, health, education and employment, if the Trinamool Congress came to power in the State. Ms. Banerjee accused the CPI(M) of stockpiling illegal firearms in several parts of the State for spreading terror and violence and demanded immediate seizure of these arms.

THE HINDU, 22nd July, 2009

Kolkata comes to a standstill

KOLKATA,21st July: Vehicles were stalled, buses were re-routed and metro trains were brimming with commuters here on Tuesday as traffic across the city plunged into chaos because of a rally held by the Trinamool Congress.

As tens of thousands of Trinamool supporters flocked to Central Kolkata in a multitude of processions, traffic in many of the city’s arterial roads was forced to come to a standstill. Some of the city’s principal roads had to be cleared to allow processions to snake their way to the site of the public meeting.

Several roads remained choked even hours after the rally was over. “The city police had deployed 3,000 policemen to control the crowd and five ambulances in case of an emergency,” said Javed Shamin, Deputy Commissioner (Detective Department), Kolkata Police.

Students on their way home from school were stranded even as some schools had declared half-day sessions in anticipation of the rush.
Business takes a blow, schools & offices deserted
Dalhousie came to a standstill on Wednesday as 1.5 lakh Mamata Banerjee sup-porters packed into a 5-sq-km radius. Attendance was thin at most offices in the city's commercial hub, and work even less. Many schools in the area shut down in view of the bandh-like situation'. At Writers', it was an overwhelmingly holiday mood. Attendance was officially normal, but several employees sneaked off to attend the Trinamool Congress rally while many others including some ministers sat glued before TV sets that beamed live footage of Mamata's call for change. Central government offices in Dalhousie registered just 50% presence.
The picture was the same at state government offices, like West Bengal Industrial Development Finance Corporation and West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation. Tapan Bhattacharya, a retired employee of Food Corporation of India, who had come to Kolkata with the twin objectives of expediting his pension papers and attending the Trinamool rally, was happy that he made it to the rally but disheartened that there was nobody to attend to him in the food ministry's office. A central government employee said that most of the staff had taken leave in advance to avoid the chaos. "It has become a yearly ritual," he said. An HDFC Bank official at Gillander House pointed out that there was hardly any customer. Gillander House, which has over 100 private and government offices, itself had skeletal staff presence.
Ironically, it was left to hawkers and owners of roadside stalls to keep the wheels of commerce moving in the city's business district. Md Umar, a cellphone accessories vendor at Chandni, made brisk business selling mobile phone covers to rallyists on a rainy day. Shakil Hossain of Chandni managed to sell off his lot of rechargeable pocket torches. Roadside gar-ment vendors near Great Eastern, too, had a field day. Many schools chose not to take a risk. A few in central Kolkata shut down, asking students to come on a weekly holiday. Several others rescheduled their timings.
Even schools far off from the rally venue like South Point and St James saw low attendance. Loreto Dharamtola on Lenin Sarani declared Tuesday a holiday and will stay open on Saturday. "I didn't want students to get caught in the chaos," said principal, Sister Mercy. Calcutta Girls off Wellington Square, Calcutta Boys on SN Banerjee Road and Welland Gouldsmith at Bowbazar gave over a few hours earlier.

TNN 22 July 2009, 05:02am IST

Jyoti Basu discharged from hospital

KOLKATA, 19th July,2009 : Veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu was discharged from hospital here on Sunday evening, seven days after admission for “transient loss of consciousness.”

The medical board of seven specialists met on Sunday morning, reviewed his condition and decided to discharge him, according to a hospital bulletin. They will visit him at his residence for the next couple of days.

Hospital authorities said Mr. Basu’s condition would be continuously monitored.
A mini- medical unit, comprising an ECG monitor, defibrillator and pulse oximeter, was set up at his residence. A doctor and paramedic staff would be present round-the-clock and blood tests and other investigations conducted.


JHARGRAM:It was in the feint emitting light of a rain-melted sundown and amidst the caressing whisper of soft breeze of his favourite patch of sal trees that comrade Jaladhar Mahato, a CPI (M) zonal committee member of the Jhargram Gramin (rural) unit, was pitilessly gunned down. The assailants were hired killers on the payroll of the ‘Maoists’ across the border in Jharkhand. This happened on 19 July.

In a macabre development, the ‘news’ of this gruesome misdeed was then quickly text messaged in ugly gloat from across the border to a select group of reporters who the ‘Maoist’ assassins feel are their simpatico partners in their criminal hatred against the Communists. Murder it is not, boasted the message, but a part of ‘annihilation of class enemies.’

Comrade Jaladhar (52) was alone and travelling on his trusty if old motorcycle after having led a meeting of the local Gramin unit of the CPI (M) some time back late in the afternoon. The locality is near the Jhargram police station. The attackers struck with deadly precision at a lonely part of the dense forestry.

Whenever a rattle of automatic weapons is heard in the jangal mahal, and this has been the fact for some time now, it usually is the signal and the tragedy of yet another criminal attack on CPI (M) workers. The villagers rushed out after the initial shock. The only sight that confronted them was the martyred remains of comrade Jaladhar who had been shot twice in the head and as many times on his chest.

Comrade Jaladhar leaves behind his much-beloved wife who has been a mentally-retardant for some years now, and who is not quite able to pin-point what has actually gone wrong with the villagers who are in a teary if angry mood. The sight is piteous. The fallen comrade also leaves behind, for the Party and the village to care for and to bring up, a daughter and a son.

Comrade Jaladhar was a small kisan by calling and farmed a tiny plot of land for vegetables, in a clearing of the jangal mahal. A staunch Party leader, comrade Jaladhar was fond and affectionate in nature, and had a particular soft spot for the wide swathe of sal trees that shaded his hutment for, amidst them he had grown up albeit through a bitterly poverty-ridden childhood. Was he, then the ‘class enemy’ the ‘Maoists’ would be ‘glad to annihilate’?

Elsewhere in Midnapore west in a related development and on the same evening, the ‘Maoists’ with direct help from local Trinamuli killers assassinated a CPI (M) worker, comrade Ashok Ghosh at Goaltore.

Comrade Ashok (35) was a humble shop-keeper. He was closing shop-- and as he was downing his wood-and-tin shamble of a ‘shutter,’ he was pounced upon and shot on the head with countrymade six-shooters, by an unknown number of attackers.

The criminals then proceeded to ransack the shop and made off with whatever they could lay their hands on before the people of the locale rushed in. Bengal CPI (M) has strongly protested the two ‘Maoist’ killings.


RAIGANJ: In less than one year, the Pradesh Congress-run Zillah Parishad board of North Dinajpore has stalled every mechanism of development while graft and misuse of funds have become the orders of the day, every day.

The very first step that the new board initiated was to garage the perfectly good vehicles of the ZP as ‘scrap.’ Then, they proceeded to buy luxury sedans and SUVs complete with every kind of creature comfort. No accounting goes for the fuel bills that have soared out of sight. Sources tell us that each car runs up fuel bills of half-a-lakh of rupees or more each month. All the spanking new vehicles in which the worthies of the ZP travel are fitted with revolving red beacons flouting motor vehicles and transport department’s restrictions.

Since the district is predominantly rural, we shall dwell here on the rural development aspect, in putting the present ZP on the dock. Bengal Left Front government has an ongoing plan called rural health development scheme. Every document including government orders (GOs) of this scheme has been blatantly filed away by the present régime and the scheme effectively shelved.

The state government had sanctioned Rs two crore 48 lakh for setting up of subsidiary health centres in the remote rural corners of the district at Daspara, Maharajapara, Surun, and Bangalbari. The funds lie quite unutilised as the rural folks suffer for lack of health care.

The state government had also sanctioned – for the nine blocks that make up the district – Rs 1.50 crore in the current financial year (FY) for upkeep and maintenance of the existing health infrastructure. The funds have met with a similar fate. Indeed, we are informed that the amount of money left unused from the previous FY in the same head, however small, too, has not been utilised in any way.

The ZP has also failed miserably in utilising the large quantum of ‘own funds’ that are made available to the three-tier Panchayat system under the present governance. Non-productive, anti-poor drives abound and the ZP office crawls with staggeringly dishonest people.

The district is also affected by refugee problems for a long time now. The state LF government has sanctioned Rs 1.30 crore for development of the infrastructural facilities of the refugee colonies in the current FY. The amounts lie unused, as the refugees and their families suffer.

A similar lack of pro-people initiative is in fact observed in every department of the ZP. Then again, can one expect the otherwise when the board members hail from the lair of the long-standing anti-people outfit called the Pradesh Congress?


KOLKATA: The Pradesh Congress at the end of two successive days of vandalism with the people as the convenient ‘soft target,’ claimed ‘spontaneous’ success, over and over again, and then once more, on the airwaves, at the press meets.

Biman Basu, senior CPI (M) and Left Front leader has roundly condemned the disorder, chaos, violence and the suffering of the people.

We prefer here to list the misdeeds on 16 and 17 July (the latter was the ‘official’ bandh day) that were borne out of this spontaneity-- to the background noise of bombs bursting, glass panes smashed up, tyres deflated, and above all the deadly crackle of fire as arsonists went to work hard, having to toil that bit harder to ‘make up’ to the level of Trinamuli ‘actions’ of recent yore, and these were desperately attempted to be surpassed.

• More than 500 public vehicles were torched or otherwise damaged beyond repair, and these were the major incidents. An equally large number of privately owned vehicles were attacked and left more than just large dents.

• Post offices were ransacked, and who could be bothered that the postal service falls into the portal of the central government in which the Congress is the majority partner.

• SDOs and BDOs were heckled, in some cases roughly so, including the shameful jostling of a woman BDO in north Bengal.

• Sick and ailing persons including a busful of cancer patients on way to receiving their weekly radiation/chemotherapy were forcefully dragged out from vehicles, left in a bedraggled state wayside, and then made the target of choice invectives of the unprintable kind.

• Zillah Parishad members in western, central, and northern Bengal were made the subject of heckling, abuse, misaddressing, and were prevented from joining work.

• Kolkata was a scene of multi-point disorder as working people were made the target of abuse, shops forced to close down shutters, and all vehicles including, in some instances, ambulances and even the humble cyclerickshaws obstructed until in isolated instances, the police had to intervene.

• All examinations had to be cancelled including all-India service examinations, depriving the aspirants of perhaps what was once-in-a-lifetime chance-- for a better life.

To these must be added misdeeds having a touch of the macabre.

• In several places, in the metropolis, and perhaps elsewhere, small hotels and restaurants were broken into, the employees, crumbling inside with the fear of the worse, forced to cook, the food taken amidst many-a-whoop of joy by the merry men of the urban jungle, and then the establishments left, wrecked

• Stranded Railway and bus passengers were provided with a modicum of food and a gulp or two of water, agreed, and by the ‘strikers.’

• What, however, was the cost involved? We saw one particular incident ourselves at the Naihati station in north 24 Parganas.

• Shops were forced to part with eatables and bottled water, free and in large quantities.

• Of these, a token amount was then sold to the desperately starving long distance passengers at exactly 10 times the normal price.

• Then, the ‘job done,’ the shops were systematically looted with glee and amidst anti-Communist slogans, and then the shopkeepers forced to down shutters once more: bandh must be abided.

• In the laterite zone at Purulia, prisoners accused of heinous crimes were attempted to be snatched away from police custody by attacking the prison van, trying to overcome the successful resistance from the police personnel.

• As we file this report, the Pradesh Congress has not as yet described this particular incident as a case of ‘police brutality,’ small mercies for which we are always thankful.

‘We are coming back,’ rang out the Pradesh Congress leadership in boastful glee. The gradually ominously louder footfalls of the decade of the 1970s are clearly heard across Bengal.

Biman Basu said that the CPI (M) and the Left Front must organise an intense campaign amongst the youth to explain what the 1970s meant for the toiling masses of Bengal.



PURULIA: Comrade Gangadhar Mahato was a worker in a stone quarry at Beldi in the Burrabazar area of west Purulia. He was 50. He was also the secretary of the Tumrasole CPI (M) local committee, a comrade who was known for his calm disposition and efficacy of leadership.

Comrade Gangadhar was also, and this is relevant here, as we knew him, a redoubtable organiser, working tirelessly amongst the toiling masses, especially khadan (quarry) workers for the propagation of his beloved Communist Party. The recent elections had underwritten this once again. This was no doubt the principle reason the pitiless killers who style themselves as ‘Maoists’ chose comrade Gangadhar as their target.

The locality too suited the remorse-free murderers. The locale is about a stone’s throw away from the lawlessness that is the eastern districts of Jharkhand. Comrade Gangadhar was cycling back to his humble abode after a day of back-breaking work at the deep khadan, when he was waylaid and ambushed by half-a-dozen heavily armed criminals who had been led to the spot by their cohorts in the Trinamulis.

A lonely turn in the bend and a hail of bullets riddled comrade Gangadhar’s weary body. He collapsed and died, perhaps almost instantly, now that we know that he was first shot twice in the head and then had four bullets pumped into his back and chest. The attackers made off into Jharkhand, and they could not be traced, as we file this report. Biman Basu, CPI (M) state secretary has deeply mourned comrade Gangadhar’s death and has called for an early apprehension of heinous assassins.


BURDWAN: Comrade Falguni Mukhopadhyay, the popular CPI (M) leader of the Burdwan district was brutally murdered a few weeks back at a village near Mangolkote in the district. His murderers, ill-famed anti-socials in the pay and protection of the two Congresses, Pradesh and Trinamul, roam free, incognito, and have been correctly declared as absconding which indeed these criminals are.

It has become a fashion with the Bengal opposition to have accused criminals accompany them as sidekicks in a show of bravado whenever they pay raucous visits to places where CPI (M) workers have been butchered. We recall that this particular affliction, we could indeed call it a disease, had overwhelmed the present generation of the reactionary leadership of the aforementioned outfits when they had ruled the land of Bengal with a law of their own in the decades of the 1960s and 1970s.

First, a week or so ago, a newly-elected and gloatingly happy for it, Trinamuli MP visited the village. The entourage of the usual suspects were prevented from entering the hamlet for any length of time by the police. The people remained a sullen witness to the show put on by the opposition worthies.

Next, another leader of the opposition, arm-in-friendly-arm with the accused in the comrade Falguni murder case, chose to follow suit – and were similarly, politely asked by the police to kindly make themselves scarce, as the people’s rage had started to fulminate.

The mass of people indeed continued to fret as no arrests could be made thanks to the ill-gotten protection the killers received with a disgusting show of ‘loyalty’ from the opposition leaders some of whom have even chosen irresponsibly to go on record to say that the police could make arrests, if ‘they dared to do so.’ Could we ever conclude from these developments that all this pacified the people, fuming as the masses have been with a raging sea of pent up emotions, about the vicious murder of their beloved leader?

In line of the visitors now came eight Pradesh Congress MLAs on 15 July. They were in the not-too-august company of two of the accused in the murder case. At least one of the criminals in the team even brandished a revolver or two and waved it around, challenging anyone to harm him.

That broke the dam of passive response. We are told that more than a couple of thousands of villagers came out, rallied round, and sternly told the MLAs and their henchmen to ‘just go away and leave us be.’ That the Congress worthies, never known for their interaction with the masses, chose to panic, stumble on to water-filled rice paddies, fall down, get to wallow in the mud, pick themselves up, and finally have themselves admitted to posh nursing homes back in Kolkata, cannot really be packaged as an ‘organised attack by the CPI (M)’ now, could it?

Biman Basu, Bengal CPI (M) secretary went ahead to issue a statement immediately after he was apprised of what had taken place at Mangolkote, and where he said that he ‘sternly condemned’ any attack on the Congress MLAs and said also that whatever ‘has happened ought not to have taken place.’

Biman was clear in pointing out that the CPI (M) ‘has always been in favour of unimpeded movement of the leaders and workers of any political party,’ and that if anyone from the CPI (M) could be found to have been involved in the Mangolkote incident, the district unit of the CPI (M) would initiate appropriate punitive action. Had the police been present, they should have intervened, was how the CPI (M) leader would put it.

Nevertheless, would the evil the two Congresses represent disappear? Buses and trucks have continued to burn, roads are being blocked, railway tracks are sat upon, sporadic bandhs have been called, and a Trinamuli minister up in Delhi has even had the temerity to call for a Constitutional step to be initiated against the elected and popular Left Front government of Bengal. The people remain as yet silent witnesses to these perilous dans macabre being played out with fanfare, the obedient corporate media, obliging as ever.


LALGARH: Cornered by the pincer tactics of political isolation by the CPI (M) accompanied by police operations, the left sectarian ‘Maoists’ have chosen the desperate way out – to kill innocent villagers who are not even supporters of the Left.

Perhaps as in the 1970s, this is the way these perverted killers prefer to let the democratic masses know of their noxious presence. Deprived of the forced entry they would have had even months earlier into villages of the locale, the criminals have turned to killing as the weapon to threaten people with dire consequences otherwise.

In the latest incident of gruesome proportions, two villagers were dragged out of their hutments in the dead of the night at Madhupur under the Sijua Gram Panchayat near Lalgarh. They were Swapan Deb Singha and Tarini Deb Singha. The marauders, armed with automatic weapons, beat them up thoroughly into bloodied pulps using blunt cudgels, and then dragged the dying duo deep into the desolate Ranja forestry abutting the village cluster.

Shots were heard by the fuming villagers soon after, and they rushed out, daring the ‘Maoists’ to do harm if the cowards could, only to find the two hapless victims of the ‘ongoing peasant revolution,’ (‘Maoist’ phraseology) lying in pools of blood some 30 metres apart, shot twice at close range on the sides of their heads. Biman Basu who was at the Solabagha village away in Howrah, the village that had been virtually razed to the ground, as reported earlier, by the swaggering marauders of the Trinamuli gangsters, expressed his condolences to the twin killings.

The Solabagha village has had its 43 houses of differing kind rebuilt since the night of the long knives and livid torches. The leaders of the local Party, the different Left mass organisations, and the Rajasthan-Bengal Maitri Parishad (whose president Sisir Bajoria was among those present) spoke on the occasion following Biman Basu’s address where the CPI (M) called for organisational fortitude and political staunchness rather than revanchist behaviour from everybody concerned, in the task of growth as opposed to destruction.


KOLKATA: Coming to office with the slogan of a ‘change for the better,’ the Trinamuli Zillah Parishad (ZP) ha substantially proved the road to ‘change for the worse in the one year they have run the ZP. A brief run through the state-of-affairs of the various developmental schemes will leave no doubt about the clear non-performance of the new ZP.

The first instalment of the Indira Awas Yojana could not be utilised. No utilisation certificate could be submitted. Thus, the district has been, in addition, been deprived of the Rs 40 crore due to it in the second instalment.

The report states that in the past one year 8% of the houses could be set up, depriving the poor of residential structure. A total of fewer than 350 houses in c could be constructed in the ‘winds of change.’

Not even 50% of the funds allotted for the NREGA scheme could be utilised by the Trinamulis. The ZP was allotted Rs 22 core 55 lakh for NREGA out of which the ZP could utilise just under Rs 11 crore 11 lakh.

Thus, the available man-days have gone concomitantly down depriving the poor of livelihood. It work out that one person could work for just 16 days on an average per annum. There is a widespread allegation that thousands of rupees are being siphoned off through creation of bogus job cards.

The road network has been the subject of sad neglect. A mere four work orders have been issued for road construction in place of the expected 100-odd. The water supply project has halted depriving thousands of potable water. The stoppage of the water supply project also affects the irrigation work substantially negatively. All 32 schemes have been sent to the cold storage and a fund of Rs 3.5 crore lie idle.

The inaction of the ZP has concomitantly affected the Panchayat Samities (PS) and the Gram Panchayats (GP). Without proper monitoring the district is about to lose the honorific of ‘clean district’ or ‘Nirmal Zillah’ awarded to it by the central and state government. The work of constructing sanitary toilets has ceased to function. There is also wide manipulation in the preparation of the BPL list in this district under the new, anti-people dispensation of the Trinamulis.


KOLKATA: Even as the Trinamulis in solicitous help of the Pradesh Congress continues to run rampage across Bengal, evidence of the written kind has been unearthed about the link that very much exists between the left sectarians and the Trinamulis.

Three Trinamuli history-sheeters by the name of Radheyshyam Giri, Gourhari Mondal, and Prakash Munian, all in jail for a variety of grim crimes, wrote a missive to the left extremists from a state of incarceration – how they smuggled the out is a question the administration shall have to ponder over – and it was published ad verbatim in the Matangini, a mouthpiece of the ‘Maoists’ in its June issue.

The letter states that the ‘movement going on in the western region of Bengal must be carried forward and we hope that you [the Maoists] shall take the correct responsibility in this regard.’ The letter ends with a formal salutation of ‘Bandé Mataram.’ They have in situ, also accused and ruefully, didi & co of having ‘forgotten those rotting in jail,’ after having ‘tasted power.’ ‘United movement’ has been identified by these criminals as the weapon of choice against the CPI (M) and the Left Front government in Bengal.

Earlier, the ‘people’s committee’ leader and Trinamuli ‘activist’ (and we use the term quite literally given his record of inchoate violence), Chhatradhar Mahato detailed out his cosy association of more than two decades with the Congress and then the Trinamul Congress. In an odd twist, the Bengal BJP, a political nonentity in this state if ever there was one, has now put forward a sonorous claim that the person concerned is their party activist and not of the Trinamul Congress. At any rate, the man’s political position, amidst all this, on the far right of reaction, remains unquestioned in his functional existence.

Elsewhere in a related development, four ‘Maoists’ were arrested by the police on charges of murder. The criminals taken into custody include the notorious gunman of the left sectarians, Panchu Soren involved in the recent killings of CPI (M) workers as well as a ‘Maoist’ ‘squad’ member Biswanath Mahato. Interestingly, both Soren and Mahato are members of the ‘people’s committee’ that Chhatradhar heads.

In reprisal, the ‘Maoists’ killed two CPI (M) workers at Dhurua in the red clay zone of Midnapore. This happened on 11 July. Those killed were comrades Baren Mahato and Gurucharan Mahato. The local Party offices were set in fire, the villagers terrorised, and warnings issued that anyone found supporting the CPI (M) shall be killed after a ‘public hearing.

In the meanwhile, on 13 July, there was an attack on the police camp at Dharampur. There was an hour-long gunfight after which the ‘Maoists’ disappeared across the border into Jharkhand. This was the first organised assault with automatic firearms in the jangal mahal since the police and para-military forces have entered the area to bring back normalcy and end the reign of terror by the left sectarians. At Uluberia on the same day, a young student of class VI succumbed to the injuries that the Trinamulis had inflicted on his body back on 9 July for his support to the CPI (M) a stand from which the young lad would not move even when threatened with weapons. Biman Basu, secretary of the Bengal CPI (M) has condoled the killings by the ‘Maoists’ and the Trinamulis.

In the hill areas of the Darjeeling district, during the same period that we report on, the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJM) has called for an indefinite ‘bandh’ and has threatened to cause bodily harm to those who stand opposed to this bare anti-people gesture. In Darjeeling town, government offices as well as educational institutions have been forced to close down, as have been shops and establishments. The Darjeeling unit of the CPI (M) has condemned the bandh and has said that this would negatively affect all prospects of development of the hill areas.

Locals reveal Maoist terror tales

RAMGARH: Her son and daughter-in-law had fled to Midnapore town on June 15, the day when Maoists torched Ramgarh police station. But septuagenarian Renu Ray refused to leave her homestead land at Amladanga. Since then, the old woman is living by herself, with hardly anything to eat.

Her eyes glistened with hope as security forces marched past Alamdanga, the village close to Ramgarh. She welcomed the forces, but at the same time, was afraid of the consequences after they withdrew from the area. "I am cut off from my family, and the world outside. My landphone is dead and BSNL employees don't tread to this dreaded place. I am here taking care of the cattle that my son has left behind. The Maoists have been a curse upon us. Grocers won't open the shops lest PCPA men charge them hefty amounts. Some upped the shutters only today, when news spread that the central forces were coming to the area. But that was only for half an hour. They were closed as soon as the Maoists arrived at the market. I walked all the way from home to buy rations and didn't get any," Ray said.

This seems to be the other facet of the Maoist-dominated People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), that had unleashed a reign of fear in the area to counter police terror. The disgruntled opened up only after the security forces marched into the area.

Another retired government employee, living in the area, grumbled over the extortions going on for all these months. "I am a retired government employee and survive on pension. These men would not spare me even. I had to give Rs 500 every month to these people who came to my house with guns. It's good that the forces have come to our rescue. They will come back again when forces leave the place," the retired employee said.

This was the common refrain among the womenfolk who were left at the mercy of PCPA, while the youths in the families fled from the villages. Jharna Das of Amladanga recounted how PCPA men forced them to join their meetings. "They won't allow us to venture out after sundown. The PCPA took control of the villages in the evening and asked us to join their meetings. They rebuked us if we didn't turn up in the meeting. Such was the rule. Our relatives stopped coming to our place," said Das.

Meet Sukumar Soren of Mohultol. A jawan of the state armed police posted at Barrackpore, Sukumar is now under cover. "I have not disclosed my identity here. What do I do? I have sent my wife and children to Sarenga. I am living here alone to protect my home and cattle. I don't want any confrontation with PCPA," said Soren.

There is no one to care for elderly residents such as Lakshmi Tudu (70) of Shiertola village, left to fate with her ailing husband for the last fortnight. "We are surviving on forest roots and kalmi sag. Buses have stopped plying since a fortnight. I can't take my husband to Goaltore, 10 km from here. Two days ago I pleaded with the local grocers to give me some rice. They refused, out of fear," Lakshmi said.

Joint forces wrest control of Ramgarh

Heavy gun battle with Maoists on tenth day of operation

RAMGARH (WEST MEDINIPUR): Amid heavy gun battle, the Central paramilitary forces and the West Bengal police on Saturday took control of the Maoist-dominated Ramgarh, 7 km from Lalgarh. The forces recaptured Lalgarh a week ago.
This victory for the joint forces, 10 days into the operation against the Maoists and the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janashadharaner Committee (PSBJC), will enable the forces to clear the 7-km stretch between Ramgarh and Lalgarh of Maoist domination soon.
Saturday was also marked by violence as armed Maoists stormed and torched an office of the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) here, barely half hour before the joint forces arrived.
The operation began at 8 a.m. when three companies of the Central Reserve Police Force along with the State police fanned out in several directions within a three-km radius of the road leading to Ramgarh.
IED blast
Soon after the operation began, the Maoists triggered an improvised explosive device at Mahultol village, one km from Kadashol. Another IED was defused by the police.
The heavy exchange of fire between the security forces and the Maoists could be heard from the dense forest nearby. Several rounds of mortar shells were also fired at the Maoists.
“Security personnel retaliated when the Maoists opened fire at Saluka and Napitpara villages near Sijua. Six mortars were also fired at the Maoists,” Siddh Nath Gupta, Deputy Inspector-General (operations), told journalists.
When the joint forces entered Ramgarh at 3 p.m., hundreds of people, gathered along the road, cheered them. Holding a press conference, after the recapture, at the Ramgarh police outpost, which had been destroyed in arson by the Maoists and PSBJC supporters a month ago, Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Verma said: “We have come here to restore law and order. We hope to get public support for this purpose. The operation will continue until the situation goes back to normal.”
No arrest was made, nor was anyone injured during Saturday’s operation, he said.
Meanwhile, joint forces personnel came under heavy fire at Amdanga village, two km from Lalgarh.
“The personnel retaliated after the Maoists started firing at them during a routine movement of the forces. The jawans also recovered an IED from the village. None was injured in the incident,” Raj Kanojia, Inspector-General (Law and Order), told The Hindu.

Sweets & smiles for jawans

RAMGARH: As the security forces approached Ramgarh after fighting off Maoist ambushes, they saw hordes of villagers mostly women gathering at the
outskirts. The jawans tensed for another human shield. When they marched closer, however, they saw smiles on the villagers' faces, and tumblers of water in their hands.

A cheer went up as the forces entered the rain swept lanes of the village. Every policeman was served a glass of water, food and sweets by villagers. And, there was no trace of the PCPA.

It was the huge number of women gathering in the fields that set the forces on the edge as they approached Ramgarh. Resistance with the use of human shields was, after all, too fresh on their minds, having encountered such situations during operations in Kadashole, Amladanga and Shiartola. Not liking the prospect of fighting villagers yet again, they advanced cautiously for the last 1 km, with an obvious show of strength, hoping to scare the mob' into retreating.

Only when they came to within 200 metres did the security forces realize that none in the waiting crowd was armed. Instead of resisting them, the villagers welcomed them with open arms. People lined rooftops, waving and cheering at the forces. The water, food and smiles were a welcome relief for the weary and hungry police and paramilitary personnel.

They were surprised because the people of Ramgarh were initially with the PCPA. Its leaders lured them to their cause with the promise to fight against lack of development. Chhatradhar Mahato and other PCPA leaders rallied the villagers with the call to liberate Ramgarh from government's control'.

"When the PCPA first asked us to fight against economic deprivation, many in Ramgarh voluntarily participated in their movement," said a villager. But the people soon realized that there was no difference between the Maoists and the PCPA. They even accused PCPA of unleashing the Maoists on them.

People are now very angry and disillusioned with PCPA, but none would divulge their names while speaking to TOI, fearing that Maoists would target them. Seventy-year-old Satya Ray, the lone villager who spoke on record, accused Chhatradhar Mahato of amassing money. "He (Mahato) extorted huge sums of money from traders, government officials and even poor villagers and helped Maoists get a foothold in Ramgarh. We have been living in fear for eight months. Many PCPA activists moved around with arms," said Ray.

The people PCPA allegedly targeted for extortion were given handwritten notes Rs 10,000 for government employees and Rs 50,000 for traders. When the owner of a fertilizer shop at Barapelia refused to pay up, he was brought to a meeting at Sarasbedia where he was forced to hand over the money.

Now, villagers have stopped paying money to PCPA voluntarily, though its leaders continue with their extortion activities, Ray added.

What turned the tide against PCPA were the murders of two tribal youths in Kharanutu village in mid-May. The incident created panic across Ramgarh and no one would venture out for over a month. Even schools and markets rarely opened. Ramgarh was completely cut off after Maoists captured the phari on June 15. Teachers of Ramgarh College were threatened not to report to work.

The arrival of the forces has been a huge relief.

Sitaram Yechury flays Rahul Gandhi’s remark on Bengal development

Press Trust of India

NEW DELHI: Taking on Mr Rahul Gandhi for his criticism of developmental activities in tribal areas of West Bengal, CPI-M leader Mr Sitaram Yechury today hit back saying tribal-dominated Bankura and Purulia districts had better socio-economic indicators than Amethi or Rae Bareli.
Observing that much was being said about the neglect of the tribal areas of the state, he said “during the election campaign, Gandhi (had) stated that many tribal areas in Bengal were more backward than the most backward regions of Orissa.“We had then shown that the areas of Bankura and Purulia, in fact, had better socio-economic indicators than Amethi or Rae Bareli. That apart, both the tribal reserved Lok Sabha seats in the state have been retained by the Left Front notwithstanding defeats elsewhere.”
In an editorial in the forthcoming issue of CPI-M mouthpiece **People's Democracy, Mr Yechury also took on the Trinamul Congress saying the ban on Maoists has put it in an “untenable” situation as they were “unable to defend or deny their collaboration with the Maoists and the fact that they had utilised the Maoist terror for their electoral advantage”.
Maintaining that there was “increasing evidence” of support extended to the extremists by the Trinamul, he said “it is now becoming increasingly clear to the common people that the Trinamul Congress had forged a grand alliance of all reactionary elements including the Maoists against the CPI-M and the Left Front in the recent elections.”
The consequence has been “unnecessary and unprecedented harassment and terrorisation of the common people,” Mr Yechury said, adding that the Trinamul had “put the people at the mercy of the Maoists for electoral gains”.
Observing that there was a “virtual exodus” of terrorised tribals from the Lalgarh area, he quoted local media reports to say that the people, especially women and children, wanted to escape from being used as human shields by the Maoists to face the police.
The CPI-M leader said it was now getting “increasingly clear that such cynical use of terror for electoral gains only jeopardises civil society mounting untoward misery on the people. It is such politics that need to be defeated while firmly meeting the challenge mounted by the Maoists and restoring normalcy and civic order.”


KOLKATA: Elderly Communist leader Jyoti Basu, who has just turned 96 years of age, was taken ill on the morning of 12 July and he was shifted forthwith from his Salt Lake residence to a nearby medical institution.

The usual run of medical tests found nothing substantially wrong with the leader after he was admitted for observation and further tests.

A day later, he has partaken of meals of semi-solid food and is recovering well. As a convalescent, he has been kept in the ICCU unit and will in due course be shifted to a cabin.

A marvellous feature that the medical board discovered while going through the report of his latest CT scan that the small haematoma that Jyoti Basu had developed back in October last year has gone on the recession, remarkable for person of his age.

Among others, Bengal state secretary of the CPI (M) Biman Basu and Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee dropped in for a view of the ailing CPI (M) Polit Bureau member.