Maoist insurgency of India has extended into Bhutan. Twin explosions last Monday rocked Phuentsholing, a small town across West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri border leaving dozens of people injured, some of them seriously. Bhutanese army and police rushed to the spot, rescued the victims and closed the border gate. Security forces in all the adjoining states of India sounded alarm bell. Intelligence officials suspect that Communist Party of Bhutan (Maoist) opposed to the monarchy triggered the explosion on the eve of the King’s wedding ceremony. The Maoists have links with ULFA and NDF of Assam.
In India, the Maoists observed countrywide bandh on Wednesday affecting normal life in areas dominated by the red rebels. They demanded that their front ranking leader Bellam Narayan Swamy alias Damodar arrested on September 25 in Andhra or Orissa be produced before the court immediately. Police in both states denied the arrest of Damodar raising apprehension that he was killed in custody.
A report from Raipur in Chhattisgarh state said about 40 armed Maoists raided the house of Damrudhar Pujari, ruling BJP legislator, late Tuesday morning. They took away the service pistol of the security guard of the MLA. Present at home during the raid Pujari was not hurt but was threatened of serious consequences if he acts against the Maoists. Pujari said the Maoist group included teenage women.
In Karnataka, security forces in anti-Maoist operation in forest areas came under attack on October 8. At least one policeman was killed and several others wounded in a fierce gunfight. Five paramilitary troops were killed and several others wounded as their vehicle was blow up in explosion of a landmine triggered by the Maoists in Chhattisgarh on October 7. Fierce fight ensued when joint forces raided a Maoist hideout in the forest of Orissa the same day. Casualty, if any, was not known. More than half of the state’s 30 district are heavily infested by the red rebels.
Police arrested three suspected Maoist operatives in New Delhi. Interrogation revealed that they came from West Bengal and Jharkhand to set up bases in the capital. Intelligence officials said big cities including the capital New Delhi have functional sleeper cells of the Maoists and secessionist groups.
Soni Sori, a tribal woman school teacher, arrested on charges of being Maoist conduit, was badly assaulted in police custody in Raipur evoking severe criticism from human right organisations. She was admitted to hospital with head and back injuries. Legs chained Soni Sori on Tuesday began hunger strike protesting police brutality. Police claimed that she received a huge sum of ‘protection money’ from a construction firm on behalf of Maoists.
Paschim Banga scene
In West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee is in dilemma. The central government has been asking for strong action against the Maoists with full resumption of operation by the joint forces against the rebels. On the other hand, she is reminded of her election pledge of withdrawing of the joint forces from the state. She has offered peace talks with the Maoists and appointed interlocutors for negotiations with them. The Maoists on Tuesday announced they were prepared to hold arms for a month if the West Bengal government halted the joint security forces’ operation and build a congenial environment for dialogue. But the centre and also the security forces have cautioned Banerjee against isolated dialogue without participation of the central government and central leaders of the Maoists.
Meanwhile, Magsaysay Award winning writer Mahasweta Devi on October 8 demanded that Banerjee keep her pre-poll promise of withdrawing joint forces from Maoist-hit areas of the state.
“I am seeing that those who said that they will withdraw joint forces after coming to power have not done that. I still feel that joint forces should be withdrawn from the Junglemahal area,” the octogenarian writer told a media meet.
The Maoist insurgency is growing. Deployment of more than two lakh paramilitary forces in addition to police has failed to tame the Maoists. Saner elements in the administration worried at the rising incidents causing sufferings of poor advasis, tribals and harijans are seeking more developmental activities in poverty stricken regions. Central Rural Development Minister Joyram Ramesh has said police action cannot and should not be the driving force to face up the Maoist challenge of overthrowing the government.
BY : Shamsuddin Ahmed.