The Mamata Banerjee government is investigating all trade unions in the state after it became known that Maoists have infiltrated many of them. Letters found in possession of senior Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji, who was recently killed by security forces, indicated a high level of communication between Maoists and trade union leaders.
The link has also been corroborated by police and intelligence reports.
“We are looking at all trade unions, their membership, leaders and workings,” said labour minister Purnendu Bose. “We have found one in Haldia which is under Maoist control.”
The union, affiliated with the CITU, has had its leadership, character and even membership changed, the police have found.
Kishenji, along with Maoist leader Telegu Dipak, came from Andhra Pradesh to West Bengal around 15 years ago. According to the police, the two had worked extensively with trade unions.
“The rebels are controlling labour bodies not just in the three Naxal-hit districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, but also in other districts and industrial zones,” said a senior official of the home department. “They have managed to get a good hold over industrial zones like Falta, Haldia, Siliguri, Bantolla, Hooghly and Howrah.”
The government is also keeping a close eye on colleges, universities and NGOs. Banerjee has already said Maoist sympathisers in urban areas won’t be spared. But in the three Maoist-hit districts, the situation is graver, as the rebels have infiltrated school management committees, labour contractors’ associations and other bodies.