By Biman Basu
LALGARH Gram Panchayat (GP) area under Binpur I Panchayat Samity (PS) is presently known to the different cross sections of society for numerous reasons. Therefore, we are to explain the reasons behind the sudden shot up of the name of Lalgarh in the media. Lalgarh GP is surrounded by Poita GP, Dharampur GP, Sijua GP, Ramgarh GP, Binpur GP, Belatikari GP, Andharia GP, Dahijuri GP, and Nepura GP.
The total number of GP seats in the above GPs is around 100 out of which Lalgarh has 10 only. Yet, geographically Lalgarh is not a central place of all these GPs, but available connectivity puts Lalgarh at the central stage. However, Lalgarh is not a ‘red fort.’ It has such a name alone. Binpur I and II blocks constitute the Binpur (ST) assembly constituency. Lalgarh is within this constituency.
Since 1977, assembly elections have taken place in the state seven times and the Left Front-nominated CPI(M) candidates won in 1977, 1987, 1991—thus only three times from this constituency, and the rest of the occasions the seat went to the Jharkhand Party (Naren Hansda faction). At present, Chunibala Hansda of the Jharkhand Party is the MLA from this constituency.
It is a fact that the state Left Front government has already declared in the Human Development Report in 2004 that many of the villages under Binpur assembly constituency are backward. The state government through the three-tier Panchayati raj system, wanted to implement many developmental projects but due to the ‘Maoist’ opposition and reluctance of the Jharkhand Party, the efforts of development could not be implemented properly so far.
They even opposed the digging of ponds, construction of roads, and went in for destruction of the small bridges; they blew up road rollers, and cement mixture machines used for road construction, and even did not spare the tourism buildings and nearby Panchayat offices, which were blasted. They even stopped the mobile health service to the rural, tribal, and other oppressed sections of the society, and killed Dr Dhaniram Mandi, nurse Bharati Kisku, and a mobile medicare van driver.
The same brand of anti-Left forces including ‘Maoists,’ attempted to kill the Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee by planting a ‘directional mine.’ Since then, they formed a frontal organisation called the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities or PCAPA, and started to spread their activities in and around Lalgarh virtually disallowing the normal rule of law. They wanted to spread their day-to-day activities in all this GP area to stop the functioning of the state administration, and to make a small hamlet to be a government within a government. They started collecting levy from teachers, government employees, shopkeepers, and they even went on to collect funds from the BDO in his office.
AIM OF THESE ATTACKS
It is a known fact that since 2001, ‘Maoists’ started to build their contacts in West Midnapore, Bankura, and Purulia districts and in certain areas, waged concerted attacks against the Left forces targeting the CPI(M) as the main enemy. They also tried to spread their activities in certain other districts. In the above-mentioned districts alone until date, they have killed 74 CPI(M) leaders, workers, close sympathisers, and one Forward Bloc worker. Also, hundreds of other people were driven out from their own living places and residences. In total, they have killed 111 people.
Out of this figure, 88 general people were killed among whom 74 are landless or poor peasants and 25 are tribals. It is true that these ‘Maoists’ would create a sense of terror in large sections of forest areas which is commonly called jangal mahal. It is also true that in these districts, the base of CPI(M), the Left forces, and their political activities are noticeable. ‘Maoists’ wanted to break this political base through armed attacks, and all sorts of anti-CPI(M) forces including internal and external reactionary forces wanted to utilise ‘Maoists’ to weaken the Left Front and the CPI(M) political base.
It is revealed in The Economist, June 27-July 3 issue under the caption of ‘India’s Naxalite: a rag-tag rebellion’ the name of Chatradhar Mahato and his activities covering some 2000 villages with a joint force of PCAPA and ‘Maoist’ guerrillas. The magazine in the post- 2004 parliamentary elections, wrote the first article with a photo of Dr Manmohan Singh, captioned ‘bad days for India.’ In the post-2009 parliamentary elections, an article was captioned ‘good days for India – don’t waste.’ This signifies how the western lobby keeps a close watch on the development of the Left and democratic movement in Indian politics.
The self-styled leader of the so-called people’s committee, Chatradhar Mahato who is a known Trinamul Congress activist, is moving with maintaining close liaison with the “Maoists.’ His younger brother is a zonal commander of the ‘Maoists.’ The Trinamul Congress supremo on February 4, 2009 just before the elections were declared went to Lalgarh and shared the platform publicly with Chatradhar Mahato. It is funny to hear that the Trinamuli supremo declared the Lalgarh agitation as another ‘Santhal rebellion’ though Chatradhar Mahato himself is not a Santhal or even an adivasi. In the mid-19th century, the first Santhal rebellion took place under the leadership of Sidhu-Kanho against the British Raj followed by the revolts led by first Tilka Murmu, and then Birsa Munda.
One of the top former Naxalite leader of the 1960s and even later, Kanu Sanyal, has correctly said ‘who has made Chatradhar the leader of the people’s committee?’ ‘Is the people’s committee represented by all communities?’ ‘Thus, how that can be dubbed as the Santhal Rebellion?’ But this is an irony of fate that the Trinamul chieftain is very much trying to disassociate herself from Chatradhar and ‘Maoists.’ Initially, she used to say that Left Front and CPI(M) are always saying that the activities of Chatradhar as ‘Mao-Mao’ (cat’s meow). These sorts of utterances have given extra strength to the ‘Maoists’ in and around Lalgarh to establish lawlessness and their authority in certain areas of jangal mahal. But ‘Maoist’ supremo Koteswara Rao alias ‘Kishanji’ has exposed the game plan of TMC by saying that ‘we went to Nandigram and adjoining areas to help TMC and made the operation successful, and now TMC is to come forward and help us.’
For the last eight months, Lalgarh and its adjacent areas remained seized by the PCAPA and the normal life of the people of the entire area was completely jeopardised. During this period, the parliamentary elections were completed and the Jhargram parliamentary constituency won by the LF-nominated CPI(M) candidate Dr Pulin Behari Baskey by a margin of 2,92,345 votes. This has infuriated the CPI (Maoist). They started a wrong political game plan with a renewed vigour. In this situation, LF gave a call for political campaign against the dangerous politics of ‘Maoists.’ Just before the LF statement, the state government with the help of the central government started a joint operation to restore normalcy in the affected areas.
The operation has been going on for two weeks now. The People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities did not leave any stone unturned in declaring themselves as the real representatives of the people there, but it is found that when the police forces reached Ramgarh proper under Ramgarh GP, the mass of the people waved at them in joy, and provided them with drinking water with a sigh of relief. Since the civil administration could not continue their normal activities, the people of Lalgarh and adjacent areas were suffering seriously and it is found that when the government started distributing rice, pulses among the deserted families they formed a long queue to receive the relief materials. This has certainly proved how the claim of the PCAPA is completely hollow.
People's Democracy, July 05, 2009