Chattradhar Mahato, leader of Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), is now knocking at the doors of the Left Front — minus the CPM — to garner support for their agitation.
He recently spoke to and got a favourable response from the Forward Bloc and RSP. This, despite the fact that the CPM has branded him as a Maoist and he is on the list of “most wanted” by the security forces who are carrying on operations in Lalgarh.
“Our main enemy is the CPM and police. It is not necessary that other Left Front parties are against us. I called up and had talk with senior leaders of the RSP and Forward Bloc. I sought their support in our agitation and to stop the ongoing police operation in Lalgarh. They gave a favourable reply,” Chattradhar Mahato told The Indian Express over phone.
Mahato spoke to RSP central committee member Manoj Bhattacharjee and state secretary of Forward Bloc Ashok Ghosh over phone. Interestingly, both Forward Bloc and RSP have publicly stated that the Lalgarh problem cannot be
solved through police operation. Both parties were also against
banning the Maoists and have said they should be fought out politically.
“We had a talk with Mahato regarding Lalgarh. We still maintain that police operation is not a solution to the problems there. We will deliberate on this issue within our party and also highlight it in the Left Front meeting,” Bhattacharjee said.
The PCAPA, which was set up two years ago following police atrocities in Lalgarh, initially had the support of Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had even visited Lalgarh. Recently, however, she distanced herself from the movement after police operations started and denounced Mahato as Maoist.
Meanwhile, violence continued in Lalgarh on the second day of three-day bandh called by the PCAPA.
On Monday, over 3,000 villagers protested in front of the Gohumi High School in Dharampur against the retaining police camp inside the school. The villagers alleged that for the last one month, students in the area have been at the receiving end after security forces set up camp in the school.
The police lathicharged the villagers leaving 12 people injured. They were taken to Jhargram and Lalgarh police stations. Mediapersons covering the protest were also injured. Following the incident villagers blocked the Lalgarh-Katapahari road by felling trees.
A landmine also exploded in Bankisol forest, Ramgarh, following which gunfire was exchanged between security forces and Maoists. Owing to the bandh call, Lalgarh and adjoining areas were shutdown.
State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen, meanwhile, expressed regret over the lathicharge on school children at Lalgarh but accused vested interests of making the most of the situation there. “Unfortunately there was a lathicharge at Lalgarh on school children and we are really sorry for that. But I believe there are some people who are using such occasions to serve their purpose,” Sen said on Monday.
At present as many as eight schools have been occupied by security forces at Lalgarh and classes have been put on hold.
Sen also said the police forces would vacate the schools very soon so that classes can be resumed. “We are looking for alternative accommodations and at some places we are making arrangements in which the forces can use the schools as just night shelters,” he added.
The Home Secretary said the central forces would remain in Lalgarh even after July. “The operation can go on for more than two-three months,” he said.