[Marxism] India: An Update from Lalgarh

Politicus E. epoliticus at gmail.com
Tue Sep 8 11:20:36 MDT 2009

The following was published on 8 September 2009 at the Sanhati
website.  Note that P.S.B.J.C. refers to the People's Committee
against Police Atrocities.

Partho Sarathi Ray and Koustav De

Encounter deaths, custodial beatings of PSBJC members , and the
lajja-bisarjan protest

Police reported of an extended encounter with Maoists on September 2
near Madhupur. In which allegedly 2 Maoists were killed, two others
were arrested.

However, the PSBJC has asserted that the persons arrested and killed
were all common villagers, supporters of PSBJC who were attending a
rally called to protest the rape of a adivasi woman by the police. The
police allegedly raped the woman by entering her house in the name of
search-operation. The rally was reportedly 12,000 strong and unarmed
when police started firing on the people without provocation. The
PSBJC fully rejected the news of the encounter, stating it to be
completely fabricated.

According to the police and administration, on September 2 there had
been a 4-hour long gunbattle between the combined forces and the
Maoists near Madhupur village as a result of which two Maoists have
been killed and two others have been arrested. On Thurssday, September
3, the two arrested people, Ajay Sana and Gautam Mahato, were produced
in court where they were remanded to seven days of judicial custody.

However according to sources in Madhupur village, on Wednesday
afternoon the procession of PSBJC was proceeding from Madhupur, in
Salboni block, towards Godamouli which is on the way to Sijua. Sijua
is a CPI(M) stronghold and there have been previous attacks from this
side on Madhupur (this correspondent has once witnessed such an attack
himself). The procession was first fired on by CPI(M) harmads hiding
in the jungles on the side of the road, and people started running
back towards the village. Apparently the combined forces and the COBRA
forces were searching in the jungles on the other side of the road and
they started firing on these fleeing people. Two of the
processionists, Hemanta Debsingha of Madhupur and Jaladhar Mahato of
Goaltore were killed in the firing.

Since then the administration have been claiming that these are
Maoists. Both the PSBJC and the CPI(Maoist) have rejected the version.
The PSBJC has called a 12 hour bandh in West Midnapore, Bankura and
Purulia against this.

Beating of arrested PSBJC members

In another action, the combined forces had arrested 14 women and 3 men
from a PSBJC rally in the Tensabandh area of Kantapahari. Among the
three men, Ajay Murmu of Sarasbediya and Vishwanath Soren of
Darigeriya were beaten up brutally before being released in the night.
The other man, Ramdulal Mandi, and the 14 women were also beaten up
badly and when they were produced in the court they actually told the
judge about the torture they have undergone. From eyewitness accounts,
most of the women, including elderly women like Sumi Mandi, couldn’t
even walk by themselves when they were produced in the court. Their
limbs were swollen from the beating.

There are also accounts of women being molested during the raids by
the combined forces. However, according to the police version, when
the police had raided Bansber village in search of Maoists, the women
had tried to mobilize the villagers by blowing conch shells and
beating drums. When the police lodged tear gas shells to disperse the
villagers, the women had hurt themelves trying to flee. This sort of
police version about injuries to prisoners is quite common.

On the other hand, Shibu Pratihar, a PSBJC member who had been
arrested from Sarenga in Bankura was found hanging in the toilet in
the court house in Midnapore where he had been brought to appear
before a judge. The police are claiming it as a suicide.

The lajja-bisarjan protest

In protest against these atrocities, especially the assault and
molestation of the women, the women of Lalgarh have decided to go for
“lajja-bisarjan” protest, i.e they will strip infront of the police
and the combined forces in the same way that the women of Manipur had
done in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters a few years back.

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