September 27, 2010
Fifth letter From Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities to Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), Lalgarh Mancha, Forum Against Atrocities, Gana-Pratirodh Mancha, intellectuals of Kolkata and outskirts and to all progressive organizations.
Hope you are doing well. For quite sometime now we have been meaning to write a report for you, detailing the overall condition here. We even started writing one but had to stop midway – not due to lack of time, but everyday we are facing attacks from the CPI(M) and the Joint Force, using newer tactics. Under such condition, it is difficult for us to write anything coherently. Earlier, we had sent a report, but apparently it is still somewhere in its way, since you have not received it. At this moment, the rallies and meetings attended by thousands are sending a cold chill down the administrator’s spine. This fear made the state and central government to conspire together to malign the image of our organization – Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities. A section of the media is also being used in this effort. The congress government is giving a silent approval stamp on all these tactics. Today, many can remain silent thinking that the atrocities are on forest dwelling adivasis or on the Maoists. But look out, the fascists are not targeting the Maoists only, all kinds of protest movements, intellectuals and activists are also being attacked. The ruling class is basically trying to say, either you are with their terror attacks, or you should remain as a silent witness. Any kind of opposition would be dealt with terror, imprisonment, arrest, penalty or death by false encounters. The arrest of scientist Nisha Biswas, writer Manik Mondal and professor Kanishka Choudhury has brought forth this fact. If we keep silent after witnessing and understanding what is going on, we are only waiting to accept the dark and even more malicious days to come upon us very soon. To resist the attack that is being perpetuated at this level by the ruling class, it is even more important today than before, that the civil society, specially all democracy loving organization an d individuals, need to come out in the streets to protest.
The arrest of Nisha Biswas, Manik Mondal, Kanishka Choudhury has revealed before your eyes the condition that is prevailing today, the rampant abuse of human rights, democracy and fundamental rights by the state and the CPI(M). We hope their (Nisha Biswas et al) report detailing everything – what they saw of the work of our development division and the mass participation has been given to you. People make history – people of Jangalmahal have been fighting with determination against the inhuman brutalities unleashed by the Joint Force, the CPI(M) and by the reactionary forces they created. The unprecedented meeting in Jhargram by women coming out in thousands has set an example of its kind. This would give rise to further polarization in Bengal politics. We request you to observe the positive and the negative side of our movement more closely and evaluate us, let us know of our mistakes through open letters or similar means. Defying administrative orders, come visit us together in Lalgarh. In your cities, in your workplaces, be vocal and protest strongly against the collaborative operation of the CPI(M) harmads and the Joint Force; against the armed harmad camps in schools, colleges, panchayat offices and administrative buildings.
While writing this letter, we had to stop several times, still, we tried to complete it and make it available to you. Only the future can tell how successful we would be in our efforts in bringing out the truth.
Come to Radhanagar of Jhargram to witness the Salwa Judum of Bengal
The ruling party – the CPI(M), the administration, the Congress, Prabir Murmu (a close associate of Nityananda Hembram), “Gana Pratirodh Committee”, “Mao Daman Sena” (maoist quelling force), “Jharkhand Janamukti Morcha” under Babu Bose, Congress leader Durgesh Malladev, Gurucharan Kisku (aka Marshall or Mantu – with close ties to the police and CPI(M) – they all together attempted to thwart the work of the PCAPA, albeit with little success, in the villages of Radhanagar, Shaktinagar, Jharia, Ramchandrapur and villages in between Jhargram and Binpur since last January. During these intervening six months, despite the opposition of all reactionary forces, thousands of people stood beside various movements at different times, only because the mass was with us. As most of these mass-assemblies were centered in Jhargram, the police and CPI(M) along with the above mentioned reactionary forces got into dirty conspiracies to stop us by any means. On 20th July, the city of Jhargram was surrounded by 35,000 women demanding punishment of the perpetrators of the rapes in Sonamukhi. Precisely around this time a conspiracy was hatched to malign us.
The police and CPI(M) orchestrated the sabotage involving Jnaneswari express derailment, killing 148 people and injuring more than 200 passengers. After the sabotage, the CPI(M), the police and the home minister, in an attempt to malign our image, put the entire blame of that destructive incident on us. But the people of West Bengal along with the entire Jangalmahal know the background of this sabotage and so, they know we are not the real perpetrators. None of the ten people who surrendered are our people. They are all closely associated with the CPI(M). Residents of Manikpara of Jhargram area, repeatedly told this to the media. Even after that, CBI, state police and the CPI(M) are spreading false propaganda against us without any shame! Few of the state’s pet media are being used to spread these lies. These newspapers and reporters talk of their accountability to the public, journalistic integrity, morality, and freedom of speech and all such big words only as lip service. They are in fact publishing concocted stories from the IB and police department, adding few extra coats of color. They are either not publishing the truth, what the people are actually saying, and our statements, or are publishing after distorting these.
Now the CPI(M) and the police have started off a new rumor. They are spreading the propaganda that people of Radhanagar, Nishchintipur and Harda are coming together to resist us. To add credibility to this propaganda, a section of the media is bringing out this false news repeatedly. And not just the reporters, some of the self-proclaimed intellectuals, authors, writers and few old time Naxal leaders who are supposedly in solidarity with peoples resistance, are endorsing this view unknowingly (we can’t tell if they are doing this knowingly) by writing about this lie of people’s revolt against us. Yet, the locals did not give any heed to this propaganda. But to a section of the people outside, without knowing the real truth, there remains a possibility of being influenced by this publicity of the government. Hence, on 22nd July in Radhanagar, 24th July in Nishchinta, 28th July in Harda, we want to present to the public what really happened, why it happened, who are opposing us etc. Only after that, one can comprehend how a Salwa Judum in the CPI(M) model has been formed in Radhanagar!
Who abducted villagers of Ramchandrapur?
On the 8th of July, reactionaries abducted 10 villagers of Ramchandrapur. On the same day, the police marshal called a meeting in the village of Jharia. In this meeting, CPI(M)-organized “Mao Daman Sena”, “Gana Pratirodh Committee”, their close associate group under Babu Bose, Congress leader Durgesh Malladev and Prabir Murmu of Majhi Marwa along with others abducted our activists and supporters from Ramchandrapur. This was done in order to break our organization and to obstruct the activities of our organization. They were detained in the Bir Jamda village located in the forests of Kushbani, northwest to Jhargram. We opposed this unjust act and on 9th July with the help of residents from several villages went over to release our men.
Since the locals of this area were coming under the leadership of our organization to be a part of the resistance, the CPI(M), the Congress, Babu Bose group, Nityananda Hembram, all came together to scheme against us. They started to pressurize the villagers by threatening them – saying there’s no need for any resistance in these areas. But people here are well aware of the anti-people character of these reactionaries and so, they did not pay any heed to these nor did these pressures threaten them. People stated very clearly – we struggled against MPS to save our land, without a movement we would lose our rights. We must continue with our movement. Nityananda Hembram got alienated from the adivasi people and their society for taking the state’s side starting from the very early days of Lalgarh resistance through recent times and so, for some time now, he is presenting his close associate Prabir Murmu instead, in front of the people. All these people are under the shelter of the CPI(M) and the police since July 9th. Police brought them back to the village of Radhanagar on the 20th of July. Their followers, who were earlier absconding out of fear of retaliation from an angry mass, are now keeping night vigils against us, at the instigation of the police and CPI(M), centering Radhanagar. They are roaming with the police, beating up people on the streets, setting houses on fire.
Land seizure and movement against alcohol consumption
We took up several developmental projects after we started working in this area. We started a movement for land seizure and against alcohol consumption. Locals of the villages took an active part in these movements. The police and the conspirators were enraged witnessing this. It was especially in 2007 that people of this area took an active part in opposing MPS and related problems. In April of 2010, 150-200 bigha land was seized. The villagers took an active part during that time.
During November-December of 2009, in areas around Dahijuri, a programme to form a movement against consumption of alcohol was undertaken under the leadership of the peoples’ committee. At that time, one could see cheap liquor shops and drunkards lying on the roads anywhere you would look. Women took part en masse in the movement to get their men folk out of such unhealthy environment. Demolition of liquor shops started to take place in 2010 July, in Ramchandrapur, Chandabila, Nekradoba, Piyalgeriya, Barodehi and other villages. Around 10-15 thousand women and men rallied in the first week of July to demolish the shops, requesting to abstain from alcohol consumption and gave a call to be a part of the movement. The CPI(M), the police and leaders like Nityananda attempted to break the movement by preaching that this is not a just movement, but failed. Entry of alcohol from outside was prevented by November-December of 2009. Taking advantage of this, corrupt businessmen under the protection and with the support of CPI(M) leaders, police and the tariff department, started to flourish by running big distilleries and having a bountiful business in selling liquor in and around Jhargram area. Thousands of liters of liquor were being made in these distilleries and were sold from Jhargram all the way up to Lodhashuli. People in thousands came out to demolish these big distilleries. Seeing such active participation of people in the movement, the CPI(M) started to engage itself in several destructive activities to obstruct the movement. They started to plot several plans to oust us through these activities with the help of the police and their associates.
Historic role of women
The way the Joint Force and the harmads together are rampaging through village after village, the way they are throwing the lives and livelihoods of the locals in complete disarray, it was only natural to have the flame of resistance ignited within the people of Jangalmahal. Our organization was born out of this. When the terror atrocities by the CPI(M) and their subservient police force had reached an unprecedented state, thousands of people rose up in rebellion. Lalgarh was the eye of this storm of revolt. Leaders emerged from these rebels. Once unknown Lalmohan Tudu in today’s history is Late Lalmohan Tudu. The little boy who was known as Bhuta Baske is now immortalized in the minds of people as the valiant Sidhu Soren, a successor to the great legacy of Sidhu Kanhu. Eighty other people, some young men, some young women, some student, some farmer, or the barber running his business from the pavement, the old parents, some mother of an infant, those daily laborers sowing seeds at the furrow of the plough, those people of the land, they wrote the history of this revolt with their blood. We could not keep count of those innumerable people who were hurt, many of whom did not receive any treatment. We remain agonized by their conditions. Who is responsible for this? This is a direct result of the state violence and the naked terror unleashed by the CPI(M). What is our offence? Our offence is, we are forest dwelling adivasi and mulvasis, exploited and impoverished, deprived of any kind of privileges and opportunities. Our greatest crime was to be vocal in protection of our beloved land and forest, in protection of our rights and dignity and against the reign of terror.
Abuses against women are rising every day ever since the Joint Force entered Jangalmahal. The culmination of which was the incident of rapes in Sonamukhi. In the night of 30th June, those beasts of the central and state force (Joint Force and harmads) attacked the village and seven housewives were brutally raped and many others were molested. In the neighboring village of Birihanri, a seventy five year old grandmother was savagely beaten down to death. The families of these jawans and their authorities might very well have grandmothers like her, and mothers, sisters, or sister-in-laws and yet they all came together and took part in this barbaric incident. We protested and agitated against this brutality, but like all our other protests, this also fell into deaf ears. The state has repressed all forms of our movement with brutal hands. Like all other issues, the government remains quite on this as well. But the women of Sonamukhi did not remain silent. They might be agonized, attacked, deprived, ignored, inexperienced and apolitical, but they are steadfast in their resolve. And so, without you or us playing any part in it, the women – and now only the women turned Jhargram into the center of resistance. This is how they became the role model of the resistance –
13th July, 2010 – Usha Naidu, leader at the national level of the Youth Congress, came to visit the affected women. She saw and heard, she cried. Later on 13th July, the Youth Congress gave out a call for agitation. We did not go to this agitation. But when the police heard that about two to three thousand women of Sonamukhi together with affected women of other villages are going over to Jhargram to take part in the agitation on their own, they made some understanding with Usha and her compatriots to lift the agitation. This, in spite of the fact that local Congress leaders were aware that these women are coming over to take part in the agitation. Even now, when destiny was not on their side, these women were ready to fight against it. They did not give up after Usha left. They blew the conch shells; they gave out the bugle call as warriors. Without any help from us, these women formed the “Nari Ijjat Banchao Committee” (Committee to Save Women’s Dignity) to save their own dignity, pride and democratic rights. In this vast land of supposed democracy, even after a long rule of 34 years by a left labeled party, these deprived daughters of the forests were forced to form the “Nari Ijjat Banchao Committee”. Instead of asking what inhuman conditions forced these women to form the committee or thinking of what should be done to change this disgusting undemocratic situation, it became more important to investigate whether this newly formed organization is a part of our people’s committee. Rumors around this were also made to float. Really, it is amazing what little value is attached to the dignity and pride of the poor adivasi and mulvasi mothers and sisters of the Jangalmahal by the so-called bhadroloks! If this had happened with some affluent city dweller, or with the families of some minister and leader, there would have been a huge furor in the newspapers, the political parties and others would have raised a hue and cry and would have hanged the perpetrators! The justice system would also have demonstrated its promptness. But our mothers and sisters are poor adivasi, mulvasi people, their dignity have no value. Almost everybody is silent; the court of justice (it pains us to say this) has become blind and mute, knowingly.
16th July – Bikram Mahato, a resident of Indaboni went to the jungle along with his boys for morning rituals. The Joint Forces surrounded him and shot him dead while his boys begged for their father’s life. The coward, brutal Joint Force then started off the propaganda that “a staunch Maoist was killed in an encounter in Indaboni”. This was splashed across the headlines in all newspapers. The duties of the democratic media were fulfilled! Honest journalism, exemplary instance of truthful news distribution was presented to us once again! This despicable situation caused more grudges and hatred within the people.
17th July – The Joint Forces entered the village of Gosaibandh in large numbers and without any reason, brutally beat up the villagers. Almost twelve people were hurt. They were taken to the government hospital in Jhargram. The police and the CPI(M) leaders forced the doctors and nurses to send the hurt ones back without offering any treatment. The reason cited was even more atrocious – there will not be any treatment for adivasi Mahatos!
18th July – The same scene, the same agony was repeated in Dahijurhi. The Joint Forces in large numbers tortured villagers. Thousands of men went over to Jhargram to surround the hospital and district subdivisional magistrate’s office, demanding the treatment for those hurt in the 17th and 18th July attacks. Forget about treatment, no one was offered a tablet or even an ointment. Everybody was beaten off and sent back. This inhuman conduct by the government did not go down well with the locals. They came back to the villages after taking the decision that until their demands are met, they would continue with their agitation.
On 18th July, there was police everywhere. The women foiled all attempts made by police to stop them and entered the hospital, the magistrates’ office. In all, the police arrested 86 men and 2 women on that day. Later all the women were released. The men were released after we protested. This incident clearly demonstrated that CPM and the police would go any length to scuttle our movement for just demands. They could not accept the fact that thousands of people would rally even after an year of atrocities committed by joint forces. They made all efforts to ensure that ‘Sonamukhi Rape incident’ does not get publicized. They have declared a war against the people in the name of Operation Green Hunt. But the home ministry could not anticipate that the women would organize themselves and protest even in the midst of this on-going war.
We regularly updated the Kolkata based intellectuals, human rights people about the incidents. Some newspapers did publish small news items on Sonamukhi rape, the cold blooded murder of Saralabala Mahato, Bikram Mahato. It was during this time that we came to know through newspapers that Debaleena of Matangini Mahila Samiti was herself on a hunger strike to protest against her harassment by the police in false cases. We believe that the hunger strike platform should have also taken some specific programme to highlight the Sonamukhi case and the murder of Saralabala by the joint forces and the Harmads.
19th July – There were preparatory meetings in many places for the 20th Rally. We wholeheartedly supported the cause of the women fighting against the brutality unleashed on them.
20th July – Historic Day – The victims of Sonamukhi – Aloka Mahato, Lalita Mahato, Kabita Mahato and others have been speaking of their tribulations from 2nd July onwards. They have knocked the doors of all the party leaders, individuals and organizations. Their voice was heard, albeit a little, by a few of the Bengali and English press. Except a few, all organizations chose to remain silent. So, from 13th to 19th July they themselves undertook several protest programs.
On 13th the women sent out the word of a gathering. People turned up form different places. This news reached the police too. So some 400 police personnel were deployed near Boita village. The women arranged some 18-20 vehicles in Boita-Dahijuri road to travel to Jhargram. But even before the women could go near them, the police went and occupied the vehicles. The undaunted women started to walk towards Jhargram. The police was taken aback. The whole day was a game of hide and seeks with the police. The police would barricade some road. The woman would take some by-lane and avoid them. The ‘leftists’ would not even allow unarmed women to protest. However, history teaches us that struggling people have always found ways to subvert the attempts made by the ruling class to gag popular protest. The women of Sonamukhi and Jhargram created another brilliant example of this.
On 20th July, Jhargram town was encircled from all sides. At around 12 noon, about 10 thousand women from Aguiboni, Jhagjanpa, BiriHandi, Shalboni, Kolaboni and other neighboring villages from Jhargram Police Station formed a procession from the Kolaboni side of the State Highway number 9 to enter Jhargram town. At the same time, another procession of 5 thousand women from Pukuria, Dubrajpur, Brindabanpur, Dholkati and other areas managed to enter the magistrate’s office via Jhargram college, Madhuban Crossing and then 5-road crossing of Jhargram town. The procession form Beerbhanpur, Narayanpur, Bandhgoda entered Jhargram through the deer park. On the other hand, the procession from Radhanagar-Boita region came in through Bachhurdoba and then through Rail gate side into Jhargarm. The joint forces managed to stop the procession from Darkhuli, Jorakhali, Ramchandrapur from entering the town. Finally, about 10 thousand women form the villages under Binour police station – namely Andharia, Gonsaidaga, Fulberia, Dohijuri, Rathbera, Bandarboni, Chhenraboni managed to enter Jhargram.
The new leadership of the movement came up through the movement itself. They are all ordinary women, hitherto unknown. But they came out to the streets to get back their self-respect. They put forward the question of their dignity strongly to the Congress and the Left Front governments. Who will answer them? The question was asked not by 1 or 15 people. According to their own declaration there were about 35 thousand women who went around the town holding placards. A few Bengali news print people went around and declared the gathering to be about 50 thousand strong. It is inconsequential to determine whether the actual number was 35 or 50 thousand. But we would like to admit that we had never been able to organize such a huge mass mobilization under our banner, even before the joint forces were deployed, or after.
There is not a single village in and around Jhargram which Police has not raided. The joint forces have run havoc in villages like Ghritogham, Sonamukhi, BiriHanri, Indaboni. Joint forces and the Harmads have collaborated in such lootings. And yet the protest by these women folk was so brilliant, beyond the imaginations of the governments at Delhi or Kolkata. They felt the heat of the protest. Despite the efforts made by some police officers, the women managed to stage their protests in Jhargram. The questions that these women have asked are yet to be answered by the governments.
Sipra Barik is a resident of Bagjhanpa village. She was once a CPM worker. At the Jhargram meeting she unequivocally demanded that the leader of the CPM harmads from Chandri region, Prasanta Das, has be hanged. Her demand portrays the amount of hatred that is present amongst the womenfolk against this leader of lumpen politics. This movement brought out a new leadership in the form of Jyotsna, Durga and others. The procession affected all villages in the area. A feeling of spontaneous protest could be felt in the entire region. The chief minister informed the assembly that there has been no rape in Sonamukhi. (We were not startled. We knew that this person who is always impeccably dressed in whites and has a wife and daughter would lie). But it is the silence of the others in face of his lie that surprised us. No one bothered to visit Sonamukhi to know the reality. No committee was formed to investigate the allegation. This is a remarkable feat of our democracy that it does not give a damn for the respect of our adivasi women. And this was not all. The police super Praveen Kumar spread the lie that we had forced people to walk in the rally. The truth is that in this heavy presence of the joint forces one can hardly do anything by force. So no one believes this blatant lie. The size of these spontaneous assemblies kept the police and the CPM on their toes to strike at any opportune moment.
21st July – This spirited movement led by women caused a lot of churning in other sections of the society and they started coming out and protesting against the atrocities perpetrated. The students could no more tolerate the fact that their mothers, sisters, sister-in-laws were daily getting beaten up and harassed by the police. But when they came over to the authority to register their protest through deputation and the administration wouldn’t accept it, they wondered – is this what is called democracy? They were shocked. Thousands took to the streets to protect the dignity of their mothers and sisters. A new organization of the students called “students’ society” was born. They marched in the streets of Jhargram in huge numbers and inspired many others. It was from this day that the students officially joined the movement. Even after Jhargram was virtually converted into a police barrack, the fact that thousands of students came together under the banner of students’ society and protested against the police high-handedness did not go well with the police super Praveen Tripathi, MLA Amar Basu (CPM), CPM leader Bhahareshwar Sen and the leader of the Jotdars and Harmads – Prasanta Das. They started victimizing the students even more – and all through ‘legal’ means. The Jhargram sub-divisional officer colluded with them.
There is another issue we wish to bring to your notice. CPM virtually rules the teachers’ associations. In particular, the head masters’ association and the School Management Committees act as CPM’s rubber stamp. The big-brotherly behavior of the SFI is well known. Also, the student forces of the Congress, the Trinamool and the Jharkhandis are very weak. They have no role in the anti-terror protests. On behalf of our PCAPA, we could not make the student front sufficiently active. The recruitment of para-teachers was appropriated by the CPM. They demanded a bribe of 2 to 4 lakhs for each such position. Ajit Giri of Jhargram paid similar amount to Prasanta Das. But, even after paying the money, all he could do is go around the houses of the CPM leaders and not get the job. He hid not get his money back and the interest on the borrowed money went up so that he got entangled in several legal cases when he failed to pay back. In this back drop, the administration has adopted a ‘stick and carrot’ policy and pressurizing the parents in order to break the unity of the students in the movement.
|Women’s movement is spreading in the Jangalmahal
Staff Reporter, Jhargram: After the PCAPA it is now the Nari Ijjat Bachao Committee (NIBC) which is in the forefront of the movement in the Jangalmahal. For the last few days this committee, headed by women, has been taking out processions in Jhargram, Binpur, Shalboni, Lalgarh and has caused serious headache for the administration. On Thursday NIBC had blocked the railway line between Jhargram and Gidhni which lasted for four hours disrupting the railway traffic. A few thousand passengers had a tough time.
On the night of Thursday itself Jyotsna Mahato expressed apology to the passengers over the phone. She added, “Everyone is sorry for the passengers. But in the Jangalmahal the joint forces and the CPM are violating the dignity of the village women. They are driving us out of our home. We sought help from the administration. Subdivisional commissioner promised an inquiry in Sonamukhi but nothing happened. Everyone has a right to protest democratically. When we seek to lodge our protest by taking out processions we are beaten up by the police. The women of the Jangalmahal have launched this movement as they don’t want to tolerate this torture any longer.”
On the other side, the PCAPA has supported the movement of the NIBC. The perimeter of the movement has been expanded beyond the siege of Jhargram subdivision. Now Bankura, Purulia, West Medinipur have been brought under purview. Manoj Mahato, spokesman of the PCAPA has said, “To demand punishment for the rapists, the oppressed, tortured women, who have lost dignity in the hand of the joint forces, have launched the movement. We support this movement. We had called for blockade movement in Bankura, Purulia and West Medinipur demanding withdrawal of the joint forces and to punish the guilty police personnel.” It is to be noted, as a procession was trying to enter Jhargram town from the direction of Boita people of the locality got together and beat them away. There have been allegations that villagers were forced to join the procession. Leader of the PCAPA Manoj Mahato comments, “The CPM leaders have formed a harmad bahini in Radhanagar area who attacked the procession and beat up women.” Same allegation was levelled by the leader of NIBC Jyotsa Mahato. However the police claim that the local people of Radhanagar have chased the procession away. So far the Jangalmahal has been trembling with the movement of the Maoists and the PCAPA. The Nari Ijjat Bachao Committee, a women force, adds to it. Apart from the women’s procession a procession by students and teachers called Chhatro Samaj was taken out in the town. The police claim that the Maoists and the PCAPA are behind this. If this is true the PCAPA is gearing up to pose a massive challenge by welding together people from all walks of life. It is not however clear what the outline of that movement is going to be.
(Source: Sangbad Pratidin, 24.07.2010)
22nd July- On this day, our committee arranged some local meetings. In fact, we led a crowd of 4-5 thousand people in a procession held in Pirakata on 21st July evening. On 22nd, around 12 thousand people rallied in Madupur and Dharampur region of Shalboni.
On 22nd July evening, the reactionaries called for a meeting in Radhanagar in our name. After they assembled, the people soon realized that it was not the committee that had called for the meeting. In spite of the enticements and the threats issued by the harmads, the Gana-Pratirodh Committe, Mao-Daman Sena-Pulish, Majhi Marwa, the people refused to go against the committee, beat up the CPM leaders and dis-assembled.
23rd July – The members of the ‘Nari Ijjat Banchao Committee’ staged a rail blockade on this day against the reign of terror and demanding investigation into the Sonamukhi incident. PCAPA had already arranged for a rail blockade on 18th July demanding the termination of the guilty police officers. On 19th July we called for an encirclement of Jhargram. Later, as the atrocities of CPM and the joint forces increased, we gave a call for blockade of entire Jungalmahal 22nd July onwards. Hence , an indefinite blockade was already enforced then.
24th July – On 22nd July, CPM conspired against us to set up “Save Village Committee” in Radhanagar. We had arranged for 20 thousand people to travel to Jhargram for protests via Radhanagar. Those reactionaries based in Radhanagar tried to stop these people. We made it clear to them that this was unacceptable.
On the same day, an assembly of harmads, Gana pratirodh Committee, Mao-Daman Sena, a section of the Majhi Marwa led by Nityananda, Some Congress leaders, CPM and the police took away 200-300 men at gun point from Radhanagar to Sebayatan village. They arranged for another 700-800 outsiders. They forced all these people to go on a rampage and loot the Sebayatan village. 80 percent of the residents of Radhanagar opposed this criminal conspiracy. When we went to complain against this, the police beat us up instead. The Sebayatan village and 4 schools there became the center of popular resistance. The police super and the additional police super planned to destroy this at any cost. They tried to surge into Sebayatan. The people there resisted till noon but were forced to retreat after that. The harmads and the joint forces commanded by the conspirators looted 50 shops and homes and burned them down. This entire episode was projected by the administration to the media as a rally of thousands against PCAPA. However, this was hardly the reality. It is sad that the media shrugged its responsibility of journalism and toed the official line whereby they portrayed an incident of loot as popular protest.
On the same day, in Nischinta village, they arrested Sushil Mahato and started campaigning with colored banners about a peoples’ revolt against the committee and the Maosists. But what was the truth? Sushil Mahato was an active PCAPA member and a local leader from the Beliroba region. CPM and police had targeted him for long but could not catch him. Nischinta is a big village. Except for 5-6 families, all others were supporting us on that day. The police caught Sushil when he was returning from his campaigns in neighboring areas. When the villagers came to know of this arrest the next day morning, they gathered and finally managed free him. This incident was advertised as ‘peoples’ revolt against the committee and fed to the media by the lying leftist government. On 25th July, about 4 thousand people gathered in the village and had a meeting. In fact the 5 CPM supporter families fled after they saw the rally.
|Deserted Sebayatan, villagers fled in the fear of village defence committee
Jhargram, 24th July: In Radhanagar village of Jhargram thana of West Medinipur district a village defence committee was formed in the Friday morning by the local people to oppose the atrocities of the Maoists and PCAPA. The police and joint forces were supporting the village defence committee. The leader of the PCAPA Manoj Mahato has alleged that the village protection committee activists have attacked residents of Sebayatan village who had participated in the processions of the PCAPA. Their shops, houses were vandalised. This was done in front the joint forces. There are allegations that tea shop of Bankim Mahato, STD boot of Haramohan Mahato in Sabayatan bazaar were vandalised and looted. Some villages who have fled the village and do not want to disclose names have alleged that houses in Sebayatan village have been raided. House of the well known Jhumur Song artiste, Lakkhikanto Mahato, has also been vandalised. The president of the Jhargram subdivisional Congress committee Durgesh Malladeb alleges that the house of the Congress party activist Deepak Mahato has been vandalised. Deepak Mahato is a resident of Sebayatan village but had fled the village in the fear of the PCAPA. Durgesh babu further alleges that although these houses were raided in front of the joint forces, they were silent spectators. He informs that he would send these complaints in writing to the police superintendent Praveen Tripathi. On the other hand, village defence committee has announced that they were not involved in these cases of vandalising. Tensions are riding high in the area over the incident. Local schools are almost closed. Students are simply not able to come to the school. On Saturday Sebayatan village wore a deserted look, most houses were locked from outside. The broken, vandalised houses stood unattended.
(Source: Dainik Statesman, 25.07.10)
25th July – In the name of joint Forces vigil, about 150 policemen in civil dress mingled with some 60-70 harmads, went around in Sebayatan, Boita and Dohijuri areas but did not dare to enter the villages. From the fields they walked up to the paved roads and went away. This infuriated the local people even more against the administration.
In the village of Matiyana and Kuldiha, the police announced using microphone that the place is surrounded and no one should come outside. Alleging that students from Sebayatan polytechnic college and girls’ and boys’ school were taking active part, those institutions were closed and remains close to this day. The school’s principal is with the CPI(M). He informed the police before the students took out procession protesting the police and harmad gangs. Everyone knows what kind of statement such teacher will give.
26th July – We organized a peace rally comprising of 4-5 thousand people opposing the looting of sebayatan. We encouraged the families fleeing from the village due to joint forces and harmad’s terror to return. But the burning smell from the village is still persistent.
27th July – We continuously organized people’s movement and rallies to defeat the government terror. Till now the state and central government have fabricated lies against us using the media. Especially journalists in some newspapers promoted lies against us by publishing fake police official’s statements and reports from the detective department. They have doctored our statements and published them quite a few times. But still people’s faith in us has increased from earlier times. We were never cornered. Cornered were the state and central government and their official and unofficial forces. The public rage increased. With around 15 thousand people, our rally entered sebayatan. Similar processions were organized regularly elsewhere.
While we were organizing these rallies with thousands of people, joint forces of CPI(M) and Congress were hatching plans to evict us by attacking us repeatedly in Goaltor and Shalboni regions. The joint forces with the help of CPI(M) leaders brutally murdered the great leader of Lalgrah movement, the valiant Sidu Soren ( General Secretary of our organization and supreme commander of Sidu Kanu People’s Militia) along with 5 more member of Sidu Kanu Militia namely Putul Mandi, Fando Mahato, Sanjoy Mahato, Bibek Murmu, Braja Duler while they were sleeping! We prepared a working schedule to hold protest movements to oppose this killing from 29th July-4th August. Finally we called for Bengal Bandh on 3-4th August.
When the whole of Jungalmahal took to the streets to demand their civil rights and to protest the misrule of CPI(M) in the villages, the Lalgrah movement took the center stage. In spite of daily blood letting perpetrated by the Congress at the center and CPI(M) at the state, in spite of new names being added to the list of martyrs day after day, PCAPA and the people led by PCPCA did not fall prey to the conspiracies of Budha-Biman, Chidambaram-Manmohan and in the centre of green and white colours, put the bow-arrow emblem, and raised their flags in villages and mufassils to fulfill the martyrs’ dream.
28th July – The clock struck twelve. Suddenly there was a new lie in the TV channels and radio over public protest against people’s committee. It was announced that there was an anti-Maoist and anti- PCAPA rally around Dangarpara and Harda village. It was said that thousands of students took part in the rally. But there were only 40 students. Around 900 people were gathered for that rally. Many people were brought from different CPI(M) villages for this procession. The Harda procession comprising of these men were passed on as student rally. MLA from Binpur, Chunibala Hansda told the media that they have long fought the CPI(M) from Harda region. Hundreds of her party’s supporters were evicted, tents were used to set up camps for them. Coloured photograph of the camps were published in the newspapers. Conscious people of Bengal can see right through the lines from the newspaper and TV reports.
29th July – In order to strengthen the so-called spontaneous protest against us, Praveen Tripathi and others arranged for night vigil at Radhanagar in the name of “Gram Banchao Committee” (village defence committee) with the help of harmads, police, official and unofficial forces. IG Surojit Kar Purokayastha, sitting in the comfort of his air-conditioned office in Kolkata, is turning a blind eye to CPI(M)’s willful abuse of state laws. As a result people protested this vigil and clashed against the night guards. Two harmads died in the fight and 8 more were injured. And instantly media publicized this public protest as Maoist attack. We are requesting to all of you who are well versed with CPI(M)’s prolonged attacks in West Bengal. Do not be influenced by the false reports without accurately judging the public opposition against the heinous attacks in hundreds of villages, brought forth by the joint forces of the powerful nation along with harmad forces, who, on a daily basis, have crushed democracy, human rights and even the basic civil right to live. It is our firm belief that you can and will understand the simple truth. Hence we want to say that incidents at Radhanagar, Nishchinta, Harda are all machinations of the all-powerful joint forces and CPI(M). They are the basis for such incidents, there is no public support for such actions. This is no public protest, rather it is an adventure of an obscene force, devoid of people support. We hope that you will definitely speak out against the fascist operation of the forces.
When Congress leader Mahendra Karma started the Salwa Judum expedition, the Congress at the centre and the BJP at the state promoted it big time. People from the middle-class section in cities were influenced by this publicity. Later on, when the truth about Salwa Judum came out with the atrocious crimes by the forces, the true picture of state-sponsored terror became clear to the nation. The conspiratorial role of the cunning CPI(M) will be exposed by people’s movement. So we are re-iterating that CPI(M) is running Salwa Judum using joint forces as a shield. It is not only our duty, but everyone’s duty to defeat this Salwa Judum.
We are appealing to the residents of Radhanagar and Majhi Marwa who are joining CPI(M), not to go against their fellow tribals and common people for money from the government or fear of state terror. All the demands of the people’s committee are valid. The entire nature of protest has followed the constitutional framework. But when the government officials violate the constitution in the name of constitution and create laws at will to torture the public, then questioning this unfair injustice and fighting for your own rights and building any form of protest for self-defence is lawful. We, the exploited, deprived, oppressed, are speaking up to uphold peace against all kinds of terror, to protect our honor and respect; and we feel as descendants of Sidu Kanu, it is also your duty to support. Stand by us. How will we live if we do not destroy Bengal’s Salwa Judum? So in the lines of Santhal Rebellion of Sidu Sorens, we have to survive by fighting in every step.
Manoj Mahato, General Secretary
Tota Hembram, Supreme Commander
Balaram Baske, Deputy Commnader
Ajit Mahato, Spokesperson
Chunilal Mahato, Spokesperson
Asit Mahato, Chief Spokesperson
Gopal Pratihar, Martyr Department
Santosh Mahato, Health Department
1) While posting this article, we came to know that police have presented Raju Adak and Joyram Bera, who have been missing since November, 2009, in Jhargram court under false names. Police claim that they have arrested them from Binpur. We already mentioned them to you and included their names in the list of martyrs. We are deleting their names from the list. We would learn a lot if the respected chief minister, respected prime minister, respected home minister, leaders of opposition and above all Governor M K Narayan could kindly educate us about which law and what section of the constitution covers the admittance of people to court under false name 9 months after their arrests by the joint forces in 2009 November! Friends, we protested their disappearance and informed you about them. But sadly, you human right workers did not take any effort, could not find the time or did not think it necessary to inquire about the missing persons in the jangalmahal. We have read your articles about human rights and about human right abuse of the state. We expected you to file petition in the court to search for the missing and admit them in court and to voice your concern by organizing meeting and protests in cities and villages. But none of our expectations were fulfilled. We do not know what obstacles you faced that made you silent regarding the disappearance of poor, oppressed tribals in jangalmahal in the hands of harmads and joint forces. We hope that the Raju Adak and Joydeb Bera incident will enable you to raise your voice for the missing.
2) We strongly protest the arrest and slapping of false case by the joint forces against the editor of Nagarik Mancha, Naba Dutta, who spoke out against the sponge iron factories. Naba Dutta correctly remarked after his release on bail that this feels like emergency. This is the real picture of jangalmahal. Naba Dutta’s arrest in false case and harassment and is a partial picture of the jangalmahal terror. Such incidents take place on a daily basis in the jangalmahal.
3) On one hand, harmads and joint forces are organizing continuous attacks and setting up camps by seizure of schools, colleges, panchayat offices and block offices, on the other hand the jangalmahal is being cut off by prohibiting anyone to enter. The list of harmad camps equipped with modern arms and ammunitions is being published in many newspapers. The camps are even mentioned in the central government investigative report. Even then the home minister and prime minster have not uttered a single word about them, leave alone taking steps against them. Because they want the harmads and joint forces to continue the operation.
When the joint forces began operating, they seized the schools to set up camps. Many joint forces camps were forced to move due to protest movement by the students. But now the harmads, supervised by the joint forces, are setting up camps in schools. Classes have stopped in schools. The teachers along with the education minister is silent on this issue. We have not noticed any protests by Kolkata’s student organizations. If you ask Manoj Verma, Praveen Tripathi, Bhupinder Singh and Surojit Purokayastha, they will answer that they know nothing on this although everything is happening right in front of their eyes.
Today voices should be raised to demand removal of harmad camps from schools and colleges and to immediately close down all harmad camps. Nothing will be achieved by meeting and submitting petitions to the home minister, prime minister and chief minister, because they are fully aware of what is happening and all these illegal (made legal at their discretion) activities are going on according to their instructions. Hence we need all progressive people, intellectuals and student sympathizers to take to the streets and protest strongly. We are inviting you – protest on this issue. You can decide how you will protest – by arranging meetings and processions or by petitioning to the court. But please do not stand back and remain silent.
Hul Johar to all the martyred comrades of Metala including the valiant Sidu Soren!
On the 26th of July our dear leader and general secretary Sidu Soren was martyred along with five Sidu-Kanhu people’s militia members. During the British rule Jagai Munda was made a spy to catch our beloved leader (of ulgulan) Birsa Munda. The brave people of Jangalmahal will never forgive the Jagai Mundas who showed the infamous thugs of Buddha-Chidambaram, the Cobra force, the route to the hideout of our dear leader. When the harmads started attacking the entire Jangalmahal including Goaltor, Salboni, Dharampur, Enayetpur we were forced to form “Sidu Kanhu People’s Militia”. Unanimously we elected Sidu Soren as the supremo. As the Buddha-Chidambaram duo could not break the struggling spirit of the people of Jangalmahal by deploying the joint forces, they were trying hard to reestablish the dominance of the harmads. With the help from the joint forces the harmads initiated the process of area capture through such measures as killing, rape, arson, loot. Our beloved leader Sidu Soren was in charge of areas of Goaltor and Sarenga to resist the rapist, murderous harmads and to organise the people of the area. In his able leadership the Sidu-Kanu People’s Militia along with thousands of people destroyed harmad camps in November, 2009 and confiscated 20 guns. On 13th June, 2010 they destroyed a harmad camp in Pirabandh and confiscated more arms.
The journalists have reported that Sidu Soren was the terror of Goaltor. Our leader was not the terror but the protector of Goaltor. That’s why to protect the harmads, to perpetrate terror, Buddha-Chidambaram duo finished Sidu Soren along with five militia members. The cowards are strutting about after killing them in sleep in Metala forest. The infamous DG Bhupindar Singh has announced a cash reward of 50,000 rupees for each of the Cobras. Rewards for butchering 6 adivasis. And we have Manmohan Singh delivering speeches everyday on his hand out of 13000 crore rupees for tribal development. This has to be seen in the reverse manner. They are killing tribals, capturing tribal land just like the British. They are doing this to hand over the wealth to the US, Japan, Germany, and other imperialists. Hail the left front and Congress governments and the mercenary thug Cobras! Shame on you.
Sidu was an ordinary adivasi youth. After 2nd November, 2008 the police brought down severe repression on the adivasi people. Sidu joined and gave leadership to the Lalgarh rebellion for he could not tolerate the attack on the tribal mothers and sisters and the tribal society. Sidu was given his name by a crowd of 30,000 people who had gathered at the Dalilpur Chowk. His parents had given the name Bhuta Baske. He was from Korkata Para of Sukhishol village, which comes under Ramgarh area of Lalgarh block. His father was Jamadar Baske, mother Lokkhimoni. They were four brothers, two sisters. He had to leave studies after matriculation. He was about 24 years of age, with a slender but strong physique and with loads of courage and initiative. When Even Murmu, Lokkhi Protihar and Chhitamoni Murmu were subjected to police atrocities and the adivasis raised the wave of Ulgulan, Sidu had the role play in it from the very first day. On 8th November, 2008 the Lalgarh-Medinipur road was cut in Jhitka. On that day he led a procession of 10,000 people from the ball ground of Chhoto Pelia. In those days none had the guts to address the media. He was the first leader who answered media queries and announced the demands of the adivasi movement. On 9th November when Dishom Majhi, Nityananda Hembrom, Munshiram, Prabir Murmu came to lift the blockade he told them to come to Dalilpur Chawk for discussion. When Majhi came to Dalilpur Chawk to propose lifting the blockade he faced stiff protests from the people. The Majhi was compelled to announce blockade on 11th November. But on 12th they connived with the administration and lifted the blockade. Hence the people lost their faith with the Majhi Marwa Juan Gaonta. On the 13th November around 30,000 people from 90 villages gathered in Dalilpur Chawk. People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities was formed on people’s verdict. Bhuta Baske was elected the general secretary. The people named him Sidu Soren after the leader of Santhal rebellion. From that day he emerged as a popular leader among the people of Jangalmahal. Sidu was one of the principal organisers of the 17th November meeting in Kantapahari which was attended by different area representatives of Jangalmahal. He had a great ability to spread and sustain a movement, and to extract the main demands from the administration after negotiations. Although initially the administration assured to discuss the main demands later on the government sent the security forces to destroy the movement. After this a new phase started, resistance became the main task of the movement. Here also Sidu Soren played an important role from the beginning. To resist the harmads and to protect the people and the movement from destruction Sidu Kanhu People’s Militia was formed. Sidu was elected as its supreme commander. He had played an important role in Lalgarh movement. Sidu was a terror to the harmads and joint forces. He was a freedom fighter to the adivasi mulvasi people of Jangalmahal.
Wherever there is exploitation and neglect there will be protest. When protest erupts the rulers start to threaten and begin severe repression. But whenever there is repression people’s resistance grows even stronger. And in the face of people’s resistance the ruler-exploiters break down to pieces. This is what the history tells us. Our movement is against the police and harmad repression. This is a fight to protect our self-respect and honour. This is a fight to protect water-forest-land-mines and to save the country with its nationalities and culture from the foreign merchants and their national agents. Our struggle is just and democratic. Our dear leader Sidu Soren led us by blending a strong people’s movement and armed struggle. The rulers are planning that they will beat the adivasi mulvasi people into submission, murder the leadership and the movement will disintegrate. This will never happen. The rulers cannot stop the wheel of history. Thousand of Sidu Soren will be born in the houses of Jangalmahal. Brave people of Jangalmahal will give a fitting reply to the murderers of Sidu Soren.
In 1856 the Britis could not stop the Santhal rebellion by killing the great leader Sidu. Today’s rebellion will not stop just because the dear leader of adivasi rebellion Sidu Soren has been murdered. Bhgaban Lalmohan Tudu, Sidu Soren are no longer with us, popular leader Chhatradhar Mahato is in jail. But a new generation of leadership of Lalgarh movement, which had been fostered by them, had taken over the responsibility to carry the movement forward. The left and the Congress governments would not be able to destroy us.
Come, let us raise our voice against the killing of our beloved supreme commander brave martyr Sidu Soren and other five members of the people’s militia. Let us take the pledge to fight the attacks of harmads and joint forces, strengthen people’s resistance and fulfill the dreams of martyrs.
Wherever there is Terror, there will be Protest and Resistance
The people have been fighting against the 34 years of torture, assault, corruption, nepotism and landlordism perpetrated by the CPM leaders and their harmads. In November 2008 a movement was launched against the atrocities unleashed by the servile police of the CPM. The People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities was formed as a result. This organisation unified the people of the entire Jangalmahal region. Lalgarh rebellion erupted which emerged in the the all-India scene as the second Santhal rebellion. The struggle aimed for exacting self respect, movemental demands, protection of rights of the exploited, oppressed, assaulted people. Breaking thousand barriers the struggle spread to villages of Jangalmahal of West Medinipur, Bankura, Purulia. As a result the leaders and harmads of the CPM fled villaged to take shelter in urban areas. The villages had won their freedom from the terror clutch of the CPM and harmads. The people tasted what it meant to be free for the first time. They stood on their own feet and under the leadership of the PCAPA ensured provision of health facilities, drinking water, irrigation dams, wells, ponds, cultivation of vegetables, roads, tube wells, shallow pumps. In effect they gave shape to a successful development programme.
The joint forces of the central and state government in cahoots with the harmad force have committed crimes of every description to suppress the Jangalmahal people’s struggle. They tear gased them, shot them with bullets and mortars. So far they have brutally killed 108 activists of the PCAPA. They have set more than 500 houses on fire, looted and vandalised them aside from slapping hundreds of false police cases. Recently they killed two villagers in a fake encounter in the Jhargram region. The joint forces and the harmad Prashanta Das of the CPM have molested and raped some housewives in Sonamukhi village. They beat to death an old woman named Sarabala Mahato in Birihanri village.
This is where we live. This atrocity surpasses the atrocity of the British Raj. At present the CPM have erected 70 harmad camps under the protection of the joint forces. History sheeter CPM leaders who had fled earlier are re-entering and recapturing their fiefdoms.
Question is how to take on this terror? How to beat back the incubators of terrors, namely the harmad and joint forces camps? People, only the people, will succeed in strengthening the anti-terror struggle and fighting back the joint forces. Peace will return to the Jangalmahal only if the joint forces, CPM leaderss and harmads are withdrawn. Only then people are live in harmony.
Not surprisingly the CPM and the police are resorting to many methods to make the Lalgarh anti-terror meeting a failure. The CPM leaders are actually getting nervous. Many intellectuals, human rights groups are attending this meeting. The meet is sending a unified message to the country and to the world. If it stays in the right direction this anti-terror movement will make a new contribution. An aroused people will uproot the harmad camps. The CPM leaders and harmads will have to flee to the towns once more. In the days to come they would not find shelter in towns either. Therefore the CPM is scared.
Without the presence of the PCAPA an anti-terror meeting cannot be organised in the Jangalmahal. We have set an example at the all India level on how to launch a movement against terror. Therefore we have got involved in this anti-terror meeting. We are committed to uproot social fascist CPM and harmads from the face of West Bengal. We shall remain steadfast with the anti-terror movement-struggle which has been formed with the initiative of the Trinamul leader Mamata Banerjee, intellectuals and human rights organisations. We shall take on every kind of terror of the joint forces and harmads. We shall establish true freedom and democracy of the Jangalmahal people. The road to peace and development will be broadened.
Whoever wants to be with the struggle, no matter for how long, we shall be her comrades that long. But if someone deprives the people in the name of opposing terror we shall protest. This is our stated policy. The CPM is launching assaults in regions outside the Jangalmahal too; there is a need for us to unite. Those CPM workers who want to openly quit the job of harmads, we shall welcome them. They deserve a chance to return to normal life. The atrocities which are being perpetrated must be condemned and defeated. This movement has not materialised for long due to reasons such as lack of strong people’s movement against the CPM terror, lack of unity among the other political parties, apart from narrow politics and non-democratic functioning. We have to fight against such misconceptions as well.
So friends, we hope that those who are lodging their protest from the banner of anti-terror forum of Lalgarh will stand by the people of Jangalmahal until all harmad and Ganoprotirodh camps are evicted from Jangalmahal, joint forces are withdrawn, the police personnel, officers, CPM and harmad leaders who are accused in different murders and rapes (including Sonamukhi) are given exemplary punishment and the demands raised in Dalilpur Chawk are justly resolved.
9th August, 2010