Reports indicate Maoist resurgence in Jangalmahal
KOLKATA/ WEST MIDNAPORE: Only three days after state police DG GMP Reddy said that there was nothing to worry about Maoists activities in the Jangalmahal, a report by the central intelligence department to the Union ministry of home affairs indicated several Maoist groups are operative in the area. The report is all the more alarming because chief minister had personally enquired about the Maoist activities there. Recently, Reddy, after his meeting with top cops, IB and central force officers, had said, “Though there is nothing alarming in the state right now as far as Maoist activities are concerned, considering the recent activities of the rebels in the neighbouring states we have reviewed the situation and have instructed the officers to stay alert.”
But the report sent to the home ministry says a different story. It has been mentioned that there are at least ten groups — all from Jharkhand and Odisha — which are frequenting parts of Purulia, Bankura and West Mindapore and conducting meeting with the villagers and local youths. In the report, there is mention of Gopal Pande and Rahul who are making rounds in the Jangalmahal area regularly. Pande — a resident of Kantasole and a former member of PCPA — was arrested in 2013. But in 2014, he fled to Jharkhand after his release on bail. “Recently, Pande was seen in parts of Jangalmahal moving around with youths of the locality,” the report claimed.
But, the intelligence inputs they failed to provide any details about Rahul who is reportedly moving around Purulia’s Ayodhya hills area now. When asked about recent Maoists activities in Jangalmahal, Purulia SP Siddhrath Nilkath said, “People go on telling a lot of things but so far we haven’t got any concrete evidence of Maoist presence here. We are keeping a close watch”. Bharati Ghosh, SP of West Midnapore, said, “There is no information about any Maoist presence in the district.” However, a senior officer on condition of anonymity said, “It is too early to say that the Lalgarh days are back. But we cannot deny the fact that the rebels are returning. There is another issue which we are bothering us. The villagers who were so long working as the eyes and the ears of police and joint forces have suddenly become silent. We need to find out whether they have stopped speaking because of Maoist fear.”
Maoists’ protest week starts today
VISAKHAPATNAM: With the Maoists calling for protest week from July 1 to protest against fake encounters, illegal arrests and surrenders by cops, fear has gripped the Visakha Agency with tribals too scared to even venture out to the weekly markets. This even as news of the formation of the new division and recent visits of central committee leaders to Visakha and East Godavari districts have sent the security forces into a tizzy. Weekly markets at various places in the Visakha Agency wore a deserted look on Tuesday.
While many suspected informers remained in the villages, sympathisers and militia members did not venture out fearing arrests by cops. According to sources, those on the Naxal hit list, including people’s representatives and political leaders, have already shifted to safer places fearing Maoist strikes. “The movement of Reds is visible in many pockets in the Agency area and they might indulge in violent activity to show their presence,” a senior police officer in the agency area told TOI. State director general of police Jasti Venkat Ramudu met officials of the Visakha Agency in the evening and discussed the action to be taken to restrict the banned outfit. He, however, told media persons that the Maoists problem in the district was under control.
Activist alleges police harassment
Sumant Parida, a youth social activist from Rayagada district of Odisha alleged that the police are trying to harass him by terming him to be an associate of Maoists. Sumant is a member of Lokshakti Abhiyan, an organisation involved in taking up issues related to environment, displacement and rights of tribals and Dalits. Speaking to newsmen in Berhampur along with Lokshakti Abhiyan convener Prafulla Samantra, he said in recent past anti-Naxal squad of the Rayagada district police had raided his house and pressed him to provide information regarding some Maoist leaders. “Security personnel threatened me if I did not provide information regarding the Naxalites that I never knew,” said Sumant.
According to Mr Samantra, it was an effort to frame up Sumant. He claimed that Sumant was a Gandhian and believed in democratic movements against anti-people policies of the government and corporate sector and had no links with the Naxalites. “He is former president of Rayagada College students’ union and now earns his living working as plumber,” Mr Samantra said. He is also involved in a movement to protect Jhanjabati and Nagavali rivers. “The Naxalites also have a squad named Jhanjabati. It seems the police officials might have linked Sumant with the Naxalites because of it,” Mr Samantra said.