(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 08, 2009
FIRING ON FUNERAL PROCESSION
AN act of unimagined inhumanity unfolded before my eyes, deep into the evening of February 2, 2009 at Lalgarh. The cortege carrying the mortal remains of the martyr, Comrade Nandalal, who was brutally killed by Maoists a day earlier, was on its way towards the designated place for the last rites deep in the afforested area of Ramgarh. The cortege, draped in a large Red flag, was being taken in a procession comprising several thousand villagers and led by the local committee members of the CPI(M). The villagers wept angrily for, Comrade Nanda had been a household name, always available by their side, rain or shine. The entire ambience was a mix of rousing slogans and bitter tears.
As the cortege took the final bridle path that would lead to Ramgarh, the marchers found themselves confronted by a dozen-odd heavily armed, masked men and women who rudely declared that the cortege must not proceed further, the body must be left behind and the marchers gone. A veritable thunderclap of a sound wave hit the obstructers as rousing slogans rent the air. The Maoists made a temporary, as it turned out, retreat.
They came back with guns blazing. A very unequal mêlée ensued before our eyes. The CPI(M) workers threw a ring around Comrade Nanda’s body while the villagers started to pelt the shooters with brickbats and stones. Palestine and Lebanon have shown that stones are no match for bullets raining death from automatic weapons. Three CPI(M) workers fell. Ten were carried off with severe wounds to the chest and abdomen. Yet, the CPI(M) workers wouldn’t give an inch of the forest land to the craven Maoists who finally chose discretion as the better part of valour and ran away. The last remains of Comrade Nandalal were subsequently carried to his native village where they were consigned to flames.
The next morning we met up, at the Lalgarh bazaar, with a self-proclaimed ‘Maoist’ supremo who spoke to us on conditions of anonymity although his name frequently appears in the corporate newspapers. He openly admitted the shoddy fact that he worked as a leader of the local Trinamul Congress unit during the day while taking on the persona of a Maoist killer when daylight had faded from the jungle mahal of the Santhal Pargana. This double-faced goon freely noted that a spree of killing of CPI(M) leaders and workers ‘has been decided on,’ by the ‘joint command’ to work back a terror and abject fear into the hearts often villagers, and thus also gaining the 'ground lost politically,' of recent yore. He also boasted of the publicity that the killings received in the right manner in the big media. How right the man was. Coming back to Kolkata, I note every one of the corporate media, print or audio-visual, deep in thought about ‘who fired the shots at Lalgarh and Ramgarh....
Mass resistance had made the craven Maoists and their running lackeys in the Jharkhand Party and the Trinamul Congress lie low for seven weeks now. In between, internecine struggle amongst their cowardly ranks resulted in the killing of a Maoist followed by that of a Trinamul goon with a considerable criminal record.
Mass resistance and revolutionary discretion, as Biman Basu, state secretary, Bengal CPI(M) has hammered repeatedly into the hearts-and-minds of the CPI(M) workers, however, cannot match up to a well-planned, swift, secretive, spineless, and evil attack on CPI(M) comrades, bold and resilient as they are, especially when the assailants are using superior attacking strength in the shape of heavy and sophisticated firearms, ferried from across the border from Jharkhand and Bihar, especially the former.
As I move around the spot at Lalgarh, in the descending darkness and amidst shivering cold on February 2, in what is commonly cited on both sides of the border as the Santhal Parganas, where the comrade had fallen in a pool of blood, I note the extreme unfriendliness of the terrain. There are innumerable hillocks, there are clumps of thick, dense growths, there are, also large thickets of tall and imposing and leafy and evergreen sal and piyal trees. The border is just a stone’s throw away. The paths are narrow and set on an extreme rolling terrain. The attackers had their route in and out, well-planned, the villains.
I learn that the slain Comrade, Nandalal Pal (52), a member of the Binpur-1 zonal committee of the CPI(M) was returning after the cremation of his mother’s last remains by the side of a narrow, dried-up-in-the-winter stream. He would not know that he had been kept under sharp focus by the Maoists and their adjutants for a long time. After all, he was one of the best organisers that the local CPI(M) unit has thrown up over the years and the decades through struggles and movements.
The moment Comrade Nandalal became alone and entered a lonely stretch – it was about mid-day – some distance away from the nearest village cluster, five men -- faces swathed in head scarves -- swooped on him, hit him hard, twice, on the head, with pistol butts, and then systematically, cruelly shot him along his thin body from the head to the stomach five times with what were foreign-manufactured, most probably Bulgarian-made 9mm pistols.
Biman Basu and Midnapore west secretary of the CPI(M) Prof Dipak Sarkar have condoled comrade Nandalal’ s dastardly killing and have called upon the police and the administration to bring the assailants to book as quickly as possible. In the meantime, the CPI(M) stands to lose one of its warriors for the cause of farther social changes.
The entire Lalgarh area displayed its solidarity for the fallen comrade by taking out numerous marches and rallies. A bandh was observed. The CPI(M) units of the Lalgarh area have decided to attend the Brigade rally come February 8 carrying large Red banners, and wearing Red headbands, in their rousing thousands.