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Mainstream, VOL L No 27, June 23, 2012

What Happened and is Happening in Junglemahal?

Wednesday 27 June 2012, by Arup Kumar Sen

The Maoists gave tactical support to the Trinamul Congress (TMC) before the last Assem-bly elections to oust the CPI-M in Junglemahal. In the fight against the common enemy, some TMC activists joined the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), the umbrella organisation of the people led by the Maoists. After the TMC came to power, the situation took a radical turn. When the peace talks with the Maoists failed, the joint forces of the State started various repressive operations on the people of Junglemahal. The killing of the Maoist supremo, Kishenji, ended the Maoist domination in the region.

Available reports suggest that the people of Junglemahal initially welcomed the Maoists wholeheartedly and they were viewed as the only answer to the misrule of the CPI-M and its atrocities. It may be mentioned in this connec-tion that in order to maintain their domination the CPI-M formed armed squads with merce-naries, who committed numerous atrocities in different villages. But, it cannot be denied that the Maoists, after establishing their domination, often tortured people who expressed dissent. In the Maoist offensive, scores of CPI-M supporters, mostly poor and middleclass villagers, were killed. The big CPI-M men fled the region.

AT present, after the retreat of the Maoists, the TMC Government has started some develop-mental work in Junglemahal. According to the Western Region Development Minister, Sukumar Hansda, solving the water crisis in the region is the biggest challenge for the new government. “We are also focusing on health care, roads and employment,” said Hansda.

The interesting fact to be noted here is that the PCAPA ran more than 20 health centres in different parts of Junglemahal. Moreover, roads were constructed and ponds dug in villages where the Maoists had a strong presence. These health centres were dismantled by the joint forces while fighting against the Maoists. But, it is not an easy task to erase the Maoists com-pletely from public memory. A recent field report from Junglemahal suggests that sympathy for slain Maoist leaders like Kishenji and Shasha-dhar Mahato, PCAPA leaders Lalmohan Tudu and Sidho Soren, and the jailed PCAPA spokes-person, Chhatradhar Mahato, is still evident at places like Baro Pelia, Dalilpur, Narchya, Kantapahari and Rameshwarpur. That the new government cannot ignore the good work initia-ted by the Maoists for the people of Junglemahal was confessed by a senior district official to the field reporter.

It is expected that the new government will try its best to win the minds of the people in Junglemahal by offering ‘development packages’. But, the spectre of Maoism will haunt the admi-nistration under the new regime.

[I have borrowed information from Snigdhendu Bhattacharya’s Field Report on Junglemahal, recently carried in Hindustan Times—A.K.S.].

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