People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 25, 2007
Maoists’ Arms Training Programme Uncovered At Nandigram
ARMS FACTORY: CRPF personnel at the house in Sonachura used by Maoists as an armaments factory
EVEN the experienced officers and men of the CRPF were taken aback and shocked when a thin young woman, indeed a young girl, Radha Ghorai of Sonachura, barely 16 years of age, demonstrated, using a well-produced wooden mock-up of a rifle, the various ‘battle positions,’ prone, kneeling, standing, half-crouching, smoothly transiting from one position to the next, and proceeded to go through the deep crouch of the ‘tiger crawl,’ and the flat-on-the-belly ‘leopard crawl,’ and showed how to use the smallest natural cover to hide behind and snipe at the ‘enemy.’ The dour expression on her face never changed even after she had taken up the feet-together, shoulder-arms position before the officers. The demonstration was certainly fearful to the villagers who had gathered around to wonder at the level of secrecy and sophistry maintained by the Maoist killers.
The Maoists had started to infiltrate the Nandigram stretch in a big way and had concentrated their programme of training in arms and in espionage, by the beginning of the summer months of April and May. Earlier they had scouted around and looked for places where to set up their rear positions and the advanced posts. They chose the villages of Sonachura as the former and from where the Trinamul Congress and the Naxalites had driven most of the supporters of the CPI(M) away, killing, looting, and setting houses on fire.
The ground was safe politically as it was one of the strongholds of the Trinamul Congress. The abandoned engineering factory of Jellingham and the proximity to the River Haldi streaming fast to the mouth of the River Ganges provided the Maoists with a rolling terrain marked by bushes that afforded them tactical advantage once mayhem broke loose. It also afforded them several escape routes. Once the hand-picked squads of the Maoists under the leadership of a self-declared history-sheeter, the squat, dark, vicious-behaved, and Telugu-speaking ‘Narayan,’ came in, they made short work of the Trinamul Congress and drove Mamata’s goons away at gunpoint. The Trinamul goons took this in in their stride.
The Maoists then started to communicate with the villagers who chose to stay back — and all were supporters and activists of the Trinamul Congress. They were bluntly told that they must make a choice between being trained up as guerrillas for the ‘great battle ahead,’ for the ‘liberation of the motherland, Bengal from the clutches of the CPI(M)’ (some claim, that!), and being hounded out and killed. The choice was preordained for the villagers who chose to cower and agreed to become Maoists cadres.
Not all were forced recruits. There were Trinamul Congress activists like Khokan Sheet, Bimal Mondal, and Subhasis Paik et al, who had seen ‘action’ against the CPI(M) – Khokan Sheet led the gang that burnt CPI(M) worker Shankar Samanta alive – and who were quite willing to go through the arms training offered, as were girls like Radha and Jharna. Nevertheless, dozens of others – at Sonachura and elsewhere, as the CPI (Maoist) spread their tentacles – were forced at gunpoint to become Maoist killers, and were always kept a close watch on, for the slightest signs of betrayal.
Dozen-odd families of rich peasants, who supported the Trinamul Congress, played willing or in some cases unwilling hosts to the Maoists. Bansari and Aparna Mondal comprised one of such families. Aparna would confide later that the Maoists, who would enjoy a night-stay with dinner at their brick-built house, would melt away as soon as day broke, to take the ‘safer’ shelter of the cavernously large Jellingham factory.
The night time also saw the Maoists holding forth ‘political’ classes in desolate spots of the Sonachura villages, especially at small grassy fields near religious places that are inevitably surrounded by a thick cover of trees throughout the area. It is there that the arms training would go on, first with mock-ups, then with .303 rifles. The villagers, however, were never ever told about how to put together and use mines, detonators, and improvised explosive devices (IED).
ARMS CACHE UNCOVERED
The villages where Radha had her first taste of politics of violence were raided by the CRPF on November 11. They uncovered a fresh cache of arms. The cache includes 48 sophisticated rifles, ten .12 bore guns with long-range sights, 151 detonators, hundreds of semi-finished IEDs, 800 rounds of ammunition of different calibres, and massive bunches of CPI (Maoist) leaflets, booklets, books in Bengali, Telugu, and Oriya. Searches are going on for similar arms caches at Southkhali, Satengabari, Gokulnagar, Ranichak, and Gangrachar. ‘Narayan’ has recently been spotted by fearful villagers of Gangrachar very early in the morning near the Jellingham project, albeit for a brief instant, lugging a handgun in a holster, and hurrying along in a surreptitious manner, his head down, alone.
Earlier on November 10, the CRPF uncovered another cache of arms, striking and fearful in its potential killing power in Gangrachar village near Sonachura. The cache included a two dozen guns including rifles, some equipped to sharp-shoot, a large quantity of bullets of various calibres, 75 detonators, and 25 kilograms worth of bomb-making ingredients (called masala in local tongue), hundreds of shot-gun pellets, gas masks, a mine, ready-and-primed, and parts of small cannon capable of firing high-calibre shells.
Also uncovered was a small but well-equipped armaments’ factory that contained sophisticated sets of centre-lathe machines, drills, taps, bores and a wide range of cutters. A range of bolts and nuts with varying threads were also found in the factory. A number of screw-top steel-made cans were discovered, and these were clearly intended for making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) of great fire power, as were batteries, chargers, and steel pipes of various calibres and lengths.
Further search operations have unearthed from a shallow water body nearby, several sackfuls of Maoists’ documents including CPI (Maoist) political-organisational programmes, publicity leaflets, books, and periodicals.
MAMATA MEETS GOVERNOR
Mamata Banerjee met the Bengal governor recently, and true to a practice driven to a soft death by its repeated use, called upon him to impose Art 356 in Bengal, and get rid of the Left Front government as quickly as possible. Later addressing a sparse meeting at Tollygunj Mamata Banerjee shouted aloud that she would have had greater contentment if the Bengal governor had worked as a cadre of the Trinamul Congress.
Elsewhere the CRPF arrested two of Trinamul goons and killers from a ‘relief camp’ the duo was running. They were forcing Trinamul Congress supporters to stay there and not to go back to their villages. The local Trinamul Congress subalterns shook their heads and thought it a great pity that the duo was arrested before the “TV channels from Kolkata could come and film footage on the ‘relief camps’” where the Trinamul Congress “men, women and children” had “taken refuge to escape CPI(M)’s torture and extortion.” The ‘relief camp’ was later disassembled, the inmates were happy to return home, and they went lambasting the Trinamul Congress goons all the way.