Virtually throwing a challenge to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who has given a seven-day deadline to them to lay down arms, the Maoists on Wednesday called a 24-hour bandh in Junglemahal on October 22, the day the deadline ends. “Make the bandh in Junglemahal on Saturday a success against the injustice meted out to the people of the area,” Maoist state committee secretary Akash, who escaped a raid by the joint forces on Tuesday in West Midnapore district, said in an open letter.
Akash, also the Maoist spokesman, alleged the state government was “unleashing terror” in the name of peace in Junglemahal.
The Maoist leader, in his letter, made no reference to his earlier offer of cessation of arms for a month on condition that the joint forces were withdrawn.
The letter, instead, raised the issue of suspension of seven India Reserve Battalion personnel for staging a hunger-strike in their camps against posting in hazardous areas and alleged apathy of the authorities.
It said the chief minister had suspended some and transferred 400 of them without addressing their problems. “What kind of democracy is this?”
Yesterday, at a meeting with government-appointed interlocutors, Banerjee had asked why killings were still taking place in Junglemahal even after cessation of operations by the joint forces and had made it clear that the government would not succumb to terror tactics.
Banerjee, during a visit to Jhargram in West Midnapore district on October 15, had lambasted the Maoists saying they followed no ideals or “isms” and were “supari killers”, while giving a seven day ultimatum to them to lay down arms.
The Maoist leader also said, “Apart from the injustice against the IRB, we protest against the rape of a housewife and shelter given to the ‘Bhairav Bahini’ (alleged armed Trinamool Congress cadre) in the camps of the joint forces.”
Akash said Banerjee had protested against the atrocities of the armed cadres of the CPI(M) and alleged that her own party cadres were now doing the same.