(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 12, 2009
‘ENOUGH is enough’ is the outlook of the heavily angered but usually peaceable villagers of Lalgarh in Bengal. This is what we found recently when talking to them in the aftermath of a successful mass and unarmed confrontation the villagers courageously offered to the invading armed Trinamulis and ‘Maoists’. The latter had come to ‘make assurance doubly sure’ about killing off and in public view a CPI(M) local-level leader, a mine blast on whom had earlier failed as already reported.
The target was of course the extremely popular CPI(M) local committee leader of Belatikari and AIKS activist Chandi Karan. The village he inhabits abuts the Lalgarh zone from where the ‘Maoists’ issue diktats in secret to their running mates elsewhere in the state.
Deep into the night of April 7, two groups of around 20 trained gunmen of the CP (Maoist) in fake but realistic army fatigues, carrying the latest short-barrelled, quick firing SLRs, and backed by a dozen-odd Trinamulis carrying sharp and cutting weapons, surrounded the hutment of Chandi, kicked down the flimsy bamboo-and-wood door, and started shooting. Their great mistake was that this time around they did not have the very effective silencers screwed onto the barrels.
Aroused, the villagers, rotating groups of whom wielding well-oiled bamboo staves do the night watch following the earlier attack on the village and on Chandi Karan, came rushing in, faced and not fled from the hail of fire that was let loose by the panic-struck ‘Maoists’. The Trinamulis chose discretion to be the better part of valour and ran away frustrated, leaving behind their chappals.
The fact of the ever-growing presence of lathi-wielding villagers whose number had quickly exceeded several hundreds made the ‘Maoists’, too, play ‘follow the leader’ game, and they, emulating the Trinamulis, in a show of great non-political solidarity, chose to scoot, with a barrage of fire as they retreated preventing the villagers from approaching them at close quarters – except in the case of two of the insidious invaders who, new to the topography, stumbled, fell, and felt a huge crowd of villagers pile up on them.
The two named Haradhan Dulé and Dayal Dulé were however not beaten up, although we are told several young men were ready for ‘mixing it’ well, and the two were duly handed over to the police when the latter came after sunrise.
How did the ‘Maoists’ preferred to return the gesture? They chose that very night to flag down at random a truck carrying cut-pieces of bound piles of bamboo sticks near the Lalgarh-Salboni zone, put the truck to the flames by tossing a couple of grenades, and then beat the driver and the helper to an inch of death, indeed leaving them for dead. The two were found by kisans taking the first plough to the fields with the break of the day, and the unconscious duo were shifted in a very critical condition to nearby health centres, and both nursing deep head wounds.
That was not all. The ‘Maoists’ then raided the remote village of Bejdanga deep into the jungle mahal near Sarenga in Bankura at a stone’s throw distance from Lalgarh, picked up at random 10 young men aged from as young as 5 years and averaging 30 years, beat them up with gun butts and a ‘squad’ of ‘Maoists’ stood impassively on guard, sten guns at the ready -- and as the raiders bound the 10 villagers up and took them away they asked the villagers to ‘take a good look’ at their near-and-dear ones for ‘we are not going to return them alive.’
The hapless captives fearing the worst were then taken to the far side of Lalgarh known to be an underground ‘Maoist’ den, and held captive for ten hours, the captors depriving them of not merely food and water but also forcibly making them sit on their haunches tied hand-and-foot. To avoid political retaliation, the police and the district administration opened a dialogue with those who represent the ‘Maoists’ in the area and after a parleys that lasted for hours together, the ten were released, and they reached their village, each carrying several deep wounds on their bodies and heads, and each shook up mentally.
Biman Basu, state secretary of the CPI(M) has condemned the incidents of attack and of hostage-taking and has called for a political response to the ‘Maoists’ through ever greater mass mobilisation in the area and elsewhere.