Indian Vanguard

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Archive for October 28th, 2009

The Sankrail episode: The story of the arrested women

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2009

Subharani Baskey in tears outside Midnapore Central Jail. She said she had gone out to see what was happening when police picked her up. (Samir Mondal)

Subharani Baskey in tears outside Midnapore Central Jail. She said she had gone out to see what was happening when police picked her up. (Samir Mondal)

By Partho Sarathi Ray. Oct 27 2009, Sanhati

On 20th October, 2009, Maoists attacked a police station in Sankrail, West Midnapur, West Bengal, taking the O.C. Atindranath Dutta as a prisoner, and demanding the release of fourteen women from police custody. This was a media sensation – the debate centered around whether this defined a hostage situation in India’s heartland, whether this was a repeat of Kandahar, and whether the action is an example of violent turf expansion by the Maoists. Subsequently, the women were released and so was the O.C., who has become somewhat of a media celebrity and, much to the wrath of the Government, not condemnded the Maoists.

What is being hidden under all the media blitz is the story of the fourteen women whose release from police custody was ensured by the Maoists.

These women had all been arrested from in an around Teshabandh village on 3rd September after the 2rd September “encounter” between the combined forces and “Maoists” near Madhupur (there is a previous report on this in Sanhati). The PSBJC had claimed that the encounter was really a firing by the combined forces on a rally of adivasis protesting against the rape of a woman. It had also condemned the arrests of these women from Teshabandh, who were subsequently charged with waging war against the state, as being arrests of innocent people.

A Lalgarh woman who was released on bail in exchange for OC Atindranath Dutta’s freedom weeps on the shoulders of another outside Midnapore Central Jail.

A Lalgarh woman who was released on bail in exchange for OC Atindranath Dutta’s freedom weeps on the shoulders of another outside Midnapore Central Jail.

Today their stand has been vindicated. The public prosecutor didn’t oppose their bail plea at the Midnapore court, although the charges against them, which include rioting with deadly weapons, attempt to murder, waging war against the state, raising funds to wage war against the state, sedition and carrying illegal arms, are all non-bailable ones. This is an effective withdrawal of charges.

Now, the media has access to the stories of the women and people know who these “dangerous” people are, whom the Maoists were so intent on getting released from police custody.

One of them is Subharani Baskey, a grandmother of 55-60 (this correspondent knows her personally – she once treated him to a “nona“, a fruit very similar to the custard-apple, just saltier, from her tree). What she has told to the media now is that she was at her home when she heard a commotion outside as the police were arresting the village women. When she went out to enquire, she was arrested for “waging war against the state” and dragged to the Kantapahari police camp.

You can hear the real story from these women, Padmamoni, a mother of two children, Pratima Patra, Sumi Mandi and the others, about what happened that day. When the police had raided their village, alleging that the “Maoists” had taken shelter there, they had stopped whatever chores they were doing and come out and surrounded the police, not letting them enter the village. They were not protecting Maoists, they were protecting themselves, as according to what Pratima Patra has said, the police entering the village means they would go door-to-door, beating up people indiscriminately, breaking furniture and looting household goods.

The Lalgarh women released from jail walk to a bus stop in Midnapore town. Picture by Samir Mondal

The Lalgarh women released from jail walk to a bus stop in Midnapore town. Picture by Samir Mondal

Even women from surrounding villages, such as Sumi Mandi, joined them when the news about the raid spread, as is the standard practice in Lalgarh. All these women were arrested, beaten up brutally and taken to the Kantapahari police station where there were charged with the above-mentioned crimes. On the way back to Kantapahari, the police also arrested Ramdulal Mandi, who was walking towards Kantapahari bazar, and charged him with the same crimes. He was also released yesterday. This constant arrests and charging with false cases is the daily reality which Chidambaram- Buddhadeb has imposed in Lalgarh, and now wants to impose on the rest of the adivasi-populated region.

The other thing that we should understand about the reality in Lalgarh is that the adivasis think that the Maoists are their last resort, when everything else fails to protect them from exploitation and oppression, the Maoists are there. This is repeated by hundreds of adivasis when you talk to them, who express their confidence on the “bon-er party“, the “party of the jungles”. This confidence has now been reinforced by this action of the Maoists, where they have ensured the release of these innocent women, rather than their own party cadre, in exchange of the captured O.C.

Moreover, the action of the state which has consistently refused to release these women, and other innocent people who have been arrested in Lalgarh over the past four months, inspite of peaceful protests and demonstrations by the PSBJC and the civil society in Kolkata, but has bowed to the armed might of the Maoists, will further reinforce the idea that it is only a certain language that the state understands, and takes heed of.

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Debates on Lalgarh: Sujato Bhadra, Kishenji, Amit Bhattacharya

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2009

Debates on Lalgarh copyThese were published in the Bengali daily Dainik Statesman. The first came out on 26 September 2009, and the second and third came out in a single issue, that of 10 October 2009. Translated by the Radicalnotes team.


1. An Open Letter to the Maoists – Sujato Bhadra

The present writer is an Indian citizen, associated with the civil rights/human rights movement in West Bengal for some decades. You are probably aware of the fact that recently in this state your armed activities and the more violent and more cruel repression subsequently adopted by the state by making your activities as a pretext has given rise to a debate.

As you know, the civil society became vocal in its criticism of police repression and terror in the Jangal Mahal area including Lalgarh in last November (2008). The charter of demands placed by the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities got the wholehearted support from the civil society and many organizations. The civil society was conscious about the happenings that took place since 18 June; it raised its voice time and again against repression perpetrated by the joint forces, stuck to the demand for the withdrawal of joint forces and placed demand to the government for sitting in a dialogue with all the parties. We have strongly opposed the ‘terrorist’ tag being affixed to your organization (by the state). The dissident part of the civil society was also much vocal demanding the repeal of the UAPA. In a nutshell, the position of the civil society against state repression and terror is zero tolerance. Many of us are in no way subscribers to the ‘Ticking bomb situation’ model.

The basis of our protest is our adherence to democratic values, consciousness emanating from humanitarianism and morality. Such elements, we feel, should also become part and parcel of politics guided by class outlook. It is these thoughts that have made me feel that some of your activities suffer from lack of logical thinking. Some events even severely hurt out consciousness and gave us pain.

Your party was confronted with such questions earlier also. You have replied to the open letter from the ‘Concerned citizens’ of Andhra Pradesh, I have also gone through your reply to the questions raised (centring round Chhattisgarh) by some eminent persons (Ramchandra Guha and others). At that time you worked as an underground party. Recently, after the promulgation of the ban on you and the draconian black law, the situation, no doubt, has become more difficult for you. Now there is no legal avenue for us to know your views and to respond to them from our side. We appreciate the fact that you have to carry on in the face of such a suffocating atmosphere and state terror. While sharing your anguish, I bear doubts about some of your activities. I am placing those things, keeping in mind the difficult situation you are in. My request to you is to give these (critical observations) some consideration.

In one of your leaflets on ‘Maoist violence’, the following is stated: “…violence has a class-orientation, it is never neutral…only armed struggle and people’s war would develop and spread people’s democratic struggles…our work in not violent, it is people’s violence to get rid of violence, which is part of people’s war” (dt.18-07-09). Read the rest of this entry »

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Kishenji To NDTV: Train drivers not hijacked, All reports are false

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2009


trianhostagestoryTtake a look at : Kishenji to NDTV: Train drivers not hijacked, All reports are false

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Lalgarh tribals threaten to strike govt offices

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2009

KOLKATA: Lalgarh has turned out to be a laboratory from where Maoists are carrying out their experiments successfully. A day after People’s
Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), the tribal forum from Lalgarh which has so far distanced itself from Maoists, announced it has turned into an armed outfit, the militia force on Tuesday jumped into action, keeping passengers of a Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express hostage for five hours.

Hundreds of villagers, armed with tribal weapons, took part in the operation along with some carrying firearms. Now, police believe that PCPA, so far thought to be a frontal outfit of CPI(Maoists), may carry out more operations.

On Monday, PCPA spokesperson Asit Mahato had said its militia force would now target government offices. ‘‘We have planned to take control of the government offices in Jangalmahal,’’ said Mahato.

Unlike in other Naxal-hit states of Jharkhand or Chhattishgarh where attacks are carried out by trained Maoist squads, common villagers took part in Tuesday’s operation in Bengal. According to police, the participation of villagers is an experiment of the Maoists to show their mass base. Maoist politburo member Kishanji has said they have taken Lalgarh as a model, which may show a new way of Maoist movement.

Though the entire operation was done by villagers, it never went beyond the control of their leaders. The style of operation shows that the Maoists have already imparted training to the villagers of Jangalmahal in carrying out armed operations. ‘‘If the villagers directly participate in an armed struggle, it will be major trouble for police,’’ says a cop, supervising Lalgarh operation. TOI

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