People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 24, 2008
MONGAL Mahato, a CPI(M) worker of Banspahari in Midnapore west, eked out a living by twisting the long-stem babui grass into stretchy, thin, strong and silky-smooth hay coloured ropes, from very early in the morning until mid-afternoon -- a tough job, and Mongal would always grumble to his wife and their two little kids about the 'unsightly' deep cut marks on his palms.
Following the rope twisting, Mongal and his neighbour and comrade, Phani Singh Sardar, a local committee member of the CPI(M), would share a frugal lunch, carefully tie the loops of the rope lengths they produced onto the top bar of the yoke of Mongal's rickety bicycle and push the ancient two-wheeler all the way to the Quilyapal haat, several kilometres away along the pakdandi or the twisting mountainous route, sell as many rope lengths as possible, and then cycle back, Phani riding pillion, back to their remote village at Banspahari, along the gentle wooded slope that merged through patches of forests onto Jharkhand. Mongal had this habit of whistling cheerfully if tonelessly on the ride back, much to Phani's annoyance.
The duo were on their way home on February 16, shivering in the cold as usual, and Mongal was whistling away full shrill, when ten-odd armed men and women, masked, each carrying automatic weapons, and dressed in the jungle green of the army, silently, menacingly stepped out of the trees, and accosted them. Abandoning the bicycle, Phani and Mongal perhaps knew who they were - Maoist killers from across the border - ran different ways. Phani later heard two loud bangs as he ran and ran, and finally reached the local office of the CPI(M), and brought the available comrades out to confront the killers - with lathis and little else besides.
On reaching the spot, they found the still warm body of comrade Mongal Mahato who had been shot with precision on each temple with 9 mm automatic rifle bullets. The Maoists, the fatuous proponents of the theory of 'continuing revolution' would not tarry. By the time the comrades reached the grassy knoll, they had fled the scene.
We recall with poignancy how back in November of last year when we were in the nearby Kankrajhor resort for a brief halt, we had heard that comrade Mongal's hutment had been set fire to by the Maoists on the cold and dark of one night, and how he and his wife had come out shouting to chase the lone Maoist arsonist away.
Mongal was forced to live for some time at the Party office. The attackers, who must have been stalking comrade Mongal since then, were on target this time around, and Banspahari will be that bit poorer with the martyrdom of the cheery and thoroughly dedicated CPI(M) worker, comrade Mongal Mahato who also led the local Kisan Sabha unit.
Burnt alive…. while he slept the deep and easy slumber of the daily wage earner. Comrade Aloke Sardar a young CPI(M) worker of twenty summers was turned into cinder during the night of February 14 as he writhed in extreme pain and died. The small mudikhana or grocer's shop at the Gopalpur village in Canning, south 24 Parganas, which he ran with a smile and which catered the daily necessities of rural life, bread, eggs, candles, matchboxes, soapbars, wicks for kerosene-lit lamps, puffed rice, peanuts, cheap and tiny plastic toys, with some utensils on the side, was also young Aloke's home-and-hearth. Deep into the night, as comrade Aloke slept peacefully, it was set on fire.
Comrade Aloke must have woken up at the searing heat, and would certainly have struggled desperately to come out but he found that the Trinamul Congress and SUCI miscreants had cruelly barred and locked his small shoplet from outside. The desperate cry of the dying -- and the fearsome crackling sound made as the fire ate through the bamboo-gunny sheet-wood-and-plastic cubby-hole of an outlet, brought almost the entire locality out. Initially the blaze and the heat kept the good folks away. By the time, they could break through, comrade Aloke had died in excruciating pain.
The members of the local unit of the CPI(M) and the men and women of the para or neighbourhood said that comrade Aloke, a pleasant young person, was liked by all and sundry. In this, they were wrong, very wrong indeed. Comrade Aloke, a dedicated Party worker and a tireless youth organiser who was immensely popular amongst the young and old alike of the locale was hated by the class enemies who had started to bay for his blood for some time now, until they were able to organise the sneak attack that was filled with lowly, noxious, condemnable cowardice of the worse kind - a pattern of behaviour perhaps not unexpected of outfits that had not hesitated to kill young Shankar Samanta of Nandigram much in the same gruesome manner some months back.