(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 27, 2008
five CPI(M) workers murdered in ten days
THIS time the killing was carried out in broad daylight.
Primary school teacher and Tantipara local committee member of the CPI(M), 49-year-old Sridam Das was about to mount his bicycle at Khairashol in west Birbhum, on his usual way to attend school when three or four motorcycle-borne gun-toting criminals coasted in, engine shut off, crowded him off the cycle, felled him with punches to the face and head, and then proceeded to shoot him six times in the chest.
Comrade Sridam died on the spot, and as the red clay earth became more and more sodden with the martyr’s blood, the killers shouted slogans against the CPI(M), mouthed ‘Maoism’ as a ‘permanent death threat to all CPI(M) workers of the area,’ and fled.
By the time, the people came rushing out, alerted by the loud bangs, the assassins had roared off towards Jharkhand — but a few kilometres away — while shooting in the air to dissuade any motorised pursuit.
An experienced organiser who was active in frustrating attempts by the so-called Maoists to go on killing sprees, by organising the local populace, in villages and abutting townships, Comrade Sridam was also involved and deeply in the task of ensuring that the right-left ‘mahajot’ in the area for the rural polls never managed to take off at all. Thus, he had earned the ire that CPI(M) workers do of the entire gamut of the unholy and unprincipled alliance of Trinamul Congress, BJP, SUCI, and Maoists in the area.
Birbhum is of course an old hunting ground for the Left sectarian hoods in the 1970s when the Naxalites would not hesitate to gang up against the CPI(M) with the help of Pradesh Congress’s lumpen and criminal elements — ‘Congxal’ was the name they had earned by then for themselves. We recall how cruelly a doctor was done to death in the district by a mob of Naxalite murderers from Kolkata in that decade of fire-and-brimstone for simply having declared his ‘moral support’ for the CPI(M).
The spirited way Comrade Sridam and the CPI(M) units of the area had fed dauntlessness and courage into the hearts-and-minds of the people of the area was well-proven, when as a perhaps final tribute to the departed leader, the 139th anniversary of Lenin was carried out with quiet dignity at Khairashol – a programme where Comrade Sridam was to have been the principal speaker.
A 12-hour bandh called subsequently under the aegis of the CPI(M) in the locality was a complete success. In the space of ten days, we recall, the Maoists have killed five CPI(M) workers in the red clay zone of Bengal bordering Jharkhand.
In a sneak night attack at the Rangamati village in west Purulia in the Arsha sub-division (over 300 km from Kolkata) bordering Jharkhand, a dozen-odd Maoist killers (the squad reportedly included women) stormed into a Panchayat election meeting held inside a hutment. Two kerosene-burning lanterns provided all the illumination as the meeting, a Gram baithak sabha went deep into the night.
The gang of assassins burst inside the dimly-lit mud hut, fired five rounds of large-calibre ammunition from a semi-automatic gun right at Khshetrapal Majhi, a local committee member of the Arsha unit of the CPI(M), and then ran out and towards, a series of hutments of CPI(M) workers towards the string of village clusters close by.
No sooner had the killers burst into the first hutment they encountered, that of the CPI(M) Zillah Parishad candidate and former headmaster Ram Bishnu Sardar, than the comrades from the area rushed out with whatever they could lay their hands on, and the Maoists, as is their cowardly wont, fired shots at them (they missed with every shot), and ran hurriedly into the thick darkness, afforded by leafy trees, that was only faintly lit up by a rising moon.
Two of the gang members who lagged behind were caught up by Sardar and a villager Monohar Sahis, but the Maoists were able to wriggle out of the hand-to-hand grappling that followed and in the process shot both the brave villagers.
Another group of CPI(M) workers rushed in to take all three CPI(M) workers to the nearest hospital where Comrade Khshetrapal was declared dead. Ram Bishnu and Monohar are in serious condition yet. Both had been shot in the chest and the abdomen. Later, the villagers found Maoists’ leaflets near the scenes of the crime, and the leaflets ‘ordered’ the CPI(M) to boycott the Panchayat polls, ‘or at least withdraw all candidates.’
The ailing Ram Bishnu, with the CPI(M) as a member for over four decades, summed up CPI(M)’s reaction to the Maoist killers’ forays later when he said ‘the rural polls form part of the political struggle and the CPI(M) would never quit, no way, under coercion, threat, or killing.’
In a murderous attack on the CPI(M) Gram Panchayat members of Odlabari at Malbazar, a sub-divisional town in the north Bengal district of Jalpaiguri, one CPI(M) worker, Comrade Nepal Mondal was killed. His brother and the Panchayat Pradhan, Gopal Mondal and eleven other CPI(M) workers were left seriously injured. The attackers were notorious hoodlums in the pay of the local unit of the Pradesh Congress. Thus has been P R Das Munshi’s assumption of the office of the Pradesh Congress chief in Bengal been ‘blooded’ in the best (or worst) of Congress tradition.
We are informed by the Odlabari GP members that the Congress goons had started a tiff with both Comrade Nepal and his brother on some local issue. Just as the CPI(M) workers who had gathered around, dispersed thinking that the mild spat was over, the Pradesh Congress goons drew long and curved talwars, and started hacking away.
Comrade Nepal, his head nearly severed from the shoulders, fell down, dead. Gopal and others fled even after being bloodied with multiple slash-and-stab wounds, and ran to safety. By the time the CPI(M) workers could regroup and make a come back en masse, the cravenly assassins had shown several clean pairs of heels.
The Jalpaiguri unit of the CPI(M) has condemned the killing and has called for early police activities for a speedy arrest of the killer gang.