People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 38

September 19, 2010

Chhabi Mahato: A Brave Woman

Killed by Beastly Cowards


N S Arjun

from West Medinipur


Chhabi in Bengali means a picture. Chhabi Mahato was picture perfect in terms of appearance and maybe her being named thus had something to do with this fact. But more than being beautiful, Chabbi Mahato was a brave woman who was the sole breadwinner after the death of her husband Chhatradhar Mahato due to illness around six years ago. This 41-year old woman was bringing up her son and two daughters by working as an Anganwadi worker under ICDS project in Bangabundh village in Salboni area. She was barely able to meet her ends and her two brothers helped in the education of her children, who were admitted into colleges in Medinipur town.


The totally brutal and lumpen nature of the so-called Maoists, particularly in Bengal, is vividly captured in the tale of this brave Anganwadi worker and activist. Chhabi Mahato was an active leader of the West Bengal ICDS Karmi Samithi. She was also a CPI(M) member working under the Pirakata local committee. Many parts of Salboni were under control of the 'Maoists'-TMC combine. They killed many leaders and workers of the CPI(M) in the area (will check & give number later) as part of their terror campaign with the aim of disrupting the CPI(M) mass base. Hundreds of families left the area and lived as refugees in camps set up by the Party in Salboni, Inayatpur etc. The not so active members and supporters of the CPI(M) who remained in the villages were particularly targeted by the armed squads which roamed freely in the villages. Some were asked to pay up hefty amounts as fines and most were regularly asked to attend their meetings. In course of this, the 'Maoists' and their frontal organisation PCPA hoodlums ordered Chhabi Mahato to participate in a procession propagating the Lalgarh rally to be addressed by TMC leader Mamata Banarjee. She refused to do so saying that she belongs to another party. And she was threatened openly.


Recently in August, Bangabundh was also one of the many villages that have been freed from the clutches of these lumpen elements by the mass resistance of the villagers who were fed up with the continuing violence. Many who had fled the village returned back to their homes. On August 31, some of them found a big pit dug up and filled just adjacent to the jungle on the side of the village and it raised their suspicion. They immediately informed the Salboni police who came and dug up the pit in the presence of an executive magistrate. The decomposed body of Chhabi Mahato was found.


The locals who had stayed back in the village during the 'Maoist'-TMC terror reign told the police that Chhabi Mahato was abducted on August 2 by the lumpens who nursed a grudge against her for not heeding their diktats. Although the viscera report of the body after the post-mortem in Mednipur hospital is yet to be released by the doctors, these locals have told the police that Chhabi Mahato was gang raped by at least 21 goons and for many days. They witnessed the heinous act of the beasts who had dragged her away into the adjoining jungle but kept silent out of fear for their lives. They also told that she was buried alive even as she had become unconscious from the torturous assault.


It was difficult to get Debashish Mahato, son of Chhabi Mahato, to talk. He and sisters Sikha Mahato and Sandhya Mahato are yet to come to grip about the horrific death of their mother. Even with tears rolling down his cheeks, one could sense the deep anger and hatred in him against the perpetrators. Asked by a national television channel reporter whether his continuing to work for SFI in his college does not frighten him, he shot back, “Why should I be afraid? I am not doing anything wrong”. His sister Sikha said that with the lone earning member in the family no more things have become real difficult to carry on. Sishir Mahato, brother of Chhabi Mahato, informed us that the West Bengal ICDS Karmi Samithi and AIDWA have  demanded from the administration that it should bear the cost of education and living of the son and daughters of Chhabi Mahato as also provision of a job to one of them. We are told that this is being processed.


Another Anganwadi worker, Anima Besra was also abducted by the 'Maoist'- TMC goons on August 23 from Ledam village in Bandwan block of Purulia district. This village is near the jungles bordering Jharkhand from which these goons regularly make hit and run attacks.  People in the village are fearing the worst about this tribal woman in the wake of the killing of Chhabi Mahato.


Would the 'personalities' in the business of promoting the romanticised versions of these beasts through embedded journalism care to explain, not necessarily in their poetic prose,  the rationale of such brutal killings? How does Chhabi Mahato or the more than 280 other tribal and dalit poor who have been brutally killed since the last Lok Sabha polls – all holding around half-an-acre to one acre land – qualify as “class enemies” for this degenerated lot? Do these downtrodden people too not have the basic human right to life and liberty? To chose their politics in a democracy? Not to be made refugees in their own land?


These so-called intellectuals would do well to reflect on these issues rather than searching for CPI(M) conspiracies behind even these killings! A notorious local Trinamul character in Salboni, Dinen Roy, after the discovery of Chhabi Mahato's body surfaced in Midnapore hospital where the body was kept. He made a preposterous claim that Chhabi Mahato was a Trinamool activist who was killed by CPI(M) workers!! Chhabi Mahato's son had to declare that his mother was an activist of CPI(M) to clear the air. This is the level to which TMC-'Maoists' are stooping with able support from the corporate media and NGO intellectuals. But it is clear from the recent developments including in most parts of Salboni that people are seeing through the game of these anarchists and have decided to put them in their place.