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Lalgarh:Govt missing, not rebels

Posted by Admin on November 9, 2009

PRONAB MONDAL
09mao1.jpgKandimala Mahato and her husband Bhim. (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)

Lakshmanpur (Lalgarh), Nov. 8: Seventy-year-old Kandimala Mahato knows the chief minister has come to Midnapore to discuss development in the tribal belt. What she would like to know is when she will get her tubewell.

For the villagers of Kadamshole, where Kandimala and her husband Bhim live, the nearest source of water is 4km away.

At 70, Kandimala cannot trek that far and her husband is ill. “We are old people… can’t fetch water from so far away. If anyone brings a bucket, we somehow soak our bodies, even in the heat of summer.”

The rainwater reservoir dries up at the height of summer. Then, a lone tubewell is the source of water for about 100 families in three villages.

The lack of water has spawned another problem for the Mahatos. They cannot find a buyer for their 10 cottahs. With no water nearby, what good is a piece of farmland?

For people like Kandimala and Bhim, the government’s promises of crores of rupees to develop the area known as the Junglemahal rings hollow.

“After the security forces moved into Lalgarh, officials came from Calcutta and told us there would be a lot of development,” Bhim said. “But nothing has been done. Where are the tubewells that they talked about? Where are the irrigation schemes? We know the chief minister’s visit will also bring us nothing.”

With neither electricity nor a metalled road, Kadam-shole reflects the state of Junglemahal.

“The meeting in Midnapore is useless, it is an eyewash,” said Bimal Soren of neighbouring Lakshmanpur. “In the end, political leaders and government officials will siphon off all the money meant for the development of our area.”

Using this anger, the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities or- ganised marches in different parts of the tribal belt over the past two days protesting Bhattacharjee’s visit.

One placard warned Bhattacharjee: “Do not dare to enter Junglemahal.”

Armed Maoists led the rallies, some as close as 10km from the circuit house in Midnapore town where Bhattacharjee put up.

“The people have come out spontaneously,” said a young man with an AK-47 in his right hand and a 9mm pistol tucked into his belt.

Asked what the armed Maoists were doing in a rally of poor tribals, he said: “We are their protectors.” TT

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