Cops fight windmills, rebels hold rally
Posted by Admin on August 18, 2009
Police dismantle the dais to foil the People’s Committee rally at Gohomidanga. (Below) Committee leader Chhatradhar Mahato addresses a gathering only 3km away. Pictures by Samir Mondal
Midnapore, Aug. 17: The People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities today foxed security forces, defied prohibitory orders and held a rally 3km from a village where the cops had turned out in large numbers to foil its gathering.
While the police were busy dismantling the dais at Gohomidanga and bringing down microphones, about a thousand people led by Chhatradhar Mahato assembled at Mongladanga.
About 400 jawans drawn from central and state forces moved into Gohomidanga this morning and took control of an 8km stretch of the metalled road connecting the area with Lalgarh town by noon. The power supply to the dais built for the rally was snapped.
Aware that the police would try to prevent its much-publicised meeting, the Maoist-backed committee had thought up a fallback.
After the outfit cocked a snook at them, the police tried to crow over their success in foiling the meeting at Gohomidanga.
In Calcutta, inspector-general (law and order) Surajit Kar Purkayastha said: “They had wanted to hold a meeting in front of the police outpost at Gohomidanga. We prevented them from doing so. They only managed to hold an impromptu secret meeting some distance away.”
The “secret” meeting, however, took place in the presence of about 1,000 men and women carrying sticks, axes, bows and arrows and other traditional tribal weapons and an army of media personnel. The committee rigged up loudspeakers run on battery and Mahato and several others spoke at length.
While Mahato was addressing the meeting, another thousand committee supporters kept the police “engaged” by advancing on Gohomidanga.
The police chased them with batons for up to half a kilometre, burst tear-gas shells and fired twice in the air till they were satisfied that Gohomidanga was secured.
According to senior committee leaders, their strategy was to give the police the impression that they were bent on holding the rally at Gohomidanga.
This afternoon, when the police were waging a quixotic fight to foil the meeting, Mahato ensured that a few processions headed towards the planned site and wrongfooted the police.
“It was a replication of the Maoist strategy of dodging the police and carrying on with their activities even after the security forces had completed their area domination in Lalgarh,” a committee leader said.
Mahato, who is wanted by the police, said the administration would not be able to prevent the committee from holding public meetings despite clamping Section 144 across Lalgarh.
His suggestion was that the popular anger against the security forces camping in schools would work in the committee’s favour. “The forces are torturing the villagers, and innocent people are being arrested and beaten up. Classes have stopped in schools. So no one can forcibly stop our movement,” he said.
Although the IG claimed “success”, several senior officers conceded that the fact that Mahato held a televised public meeting with loudspeakers a few kilometres from an area of heavy police deployment highlighted yet again the forces’ abysmal intelligence network.
“Just as the police are not getting any intimation on Maoist movement in Lalgarh, they were completely in the dark about Mahato’s meeting,” an officer said.