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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Mass Uprising in Lalgarh, India

From People's Truth,
http://www.bannedth India/PeoplesTru th/PeoplesTruth0 5.pdf:

After Singur and Nanidgram, now it is the turn of Lalgarh. While the first two mass eruptions in West Bengal were over displacement of the peasants from their fertile lands which were handed over to the big comprador sharks, the Lalgarh adivasi uprising was against the high-handedness and atrocities by the police and, of course, by the social fascist goons of the ruling CPI(M). It is the first mass uprising that had erupted on such a massive scale against police atrocities in post-1947 India barring, of course, Kashmir and North East. One is reminded of the mass uprising of Manipur against atrocities by the Indian Army and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the wake of the rape of Manorama.
Described as the biggest adivasi rebellion ever in the state and as the second Santhal rebellion, the militant mass uprising in Lalgarh drew banner headlines for several weeks following the land-mine attack on the convoy of the West Bengal chief minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, and a host of other VVIPs, including two Union Ministers, Ramvilas Paswan and Jitendra Prasad, and top industrialist, Ashok Jindal, on November 2, 2008 near Salboni in West Midnapore district. The convoy was attacked by Maoist guerrillas when it was returning from Salboni after Buddhadeb’s inauguration of a mega-steel project being set up by Jindal at a cost of over Rs. 12,000 crores and for which 4,500 acres of land was acquired by the so-called Left Front government. Three policemen, including an inspector and two constables, were suspended following the land-mine blast.
What sparked off the rebellion was the brutal reign of terror unleashed by the police in the Lalgarh region committing indescribable atrocities on innocent people. Along with state terror, the social-fascist goons belonging to the CPI (M) had pounced on the villages with fire-arms, abducting and beating up people on suspicion of being sympathetic to the Maoists. On November 3, West Midnapore police raided far-flung villages of Lalgarh at the Belpahari end of Jangalmahal, and detained 15 people. Three of these were school-kids who were tortured badly and charged with sedition or waging war against the state, conspiracy and use of explosives. Two are Class IX students of Katapahari High School and the third is a Class VII student of a Lalgarh school. They were returning after attending a village festival on the 3rd evening when police picked them up and lined them up with four other ‘suspects’ arrested in the case. These incidents provoked the initial protests. But paying little heed to the growing anger and protest of the people the police continued with their terror campaign.
In Kantaphari village one Deepak Pratihar was arrested on November 4 and his pregnant wife Lakshmi was assaulted. Another ten people, including a retired teacher and a contractor from Choto Pelia village, were arrested as police raids continued in 35 villages in Lalgarh block. The turning point came when the Lalgarh police tortured 11 adivasi women on the mid-night of Nov 6 in Chhoto Pelia. Mrs. Chitamoni Murmu, a poor Santhal woman, had lost her vision after being struck with a rifle butt on her left eye by a policeman. Some like Panmani Hansda suffered fractures. This brutal incident, which took place in Chhotopelia when only women folk were resent at the time of the police raid, served as the spark that set off a prairie fire spreading to the rest of West Midnapore and neighbouring Bankura and Purulia districts too.

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