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PW friends released

Midnapore, Dec. 14: Five student activists of the Calcutta-based Bandi Mukti Committee were produced before the executive magistrate’s court here today and released on personal bonds.

They were arrested yesterday on charges of campaigning for the release of Naxalites and People’s War prisoners in Midnapore central jail.

Sangeeta Ray and Diptaneel Ray are leaders of the pro-Naxalite Revolutionary Student Front in Jadavpur University, said district police superintendent K.C. Meena, adding that undergraduate students Benoy Bhattacharya, Projit Ghosh and Jayanta Chakraborty are active members of the committee.

Meena said his office had enough evidence of the five students’ collaboration with Naxalites.

Sangeeta is the leader of the group and “a good friend” of Anup Roy, a front-ranking leader of People’s War in the Salboni-Garbeta area. “Anup had told Sangeeta to reorganise different Naxalite factions in the area and bring them under one umbrella. We released them after executing personal release bonds this time. But if we find them working again for People’s War in the district, then police will take a tough stand,” Meena said.

Members of the Bandi Mukti Committee today announced they would observe a day-long dharna outside the jail on December 16 against “police high-handedness and harassment”. They claimed the five students went to Midnapore to collect signatures from villagers, demanding the release of innocent people arrested on fake charges of collaborating with the People’s War.

They were seeking an audience with the district police chief to lodge a complaint against harassment by policemen in plain clothes and were arrested while waiting to meet the superintendent in his office, said Sukhendu Bhattacharya, an executive member of the committee. “Instead of meeting the students and listening to their grievances, Meena ordered their arrest,” he added.

The district police have been warned by the intelligence branch to expect widespread violence on the day of the dharna. An intelligence report said a large number of pro-Naxalite activists had already taken shelter in the nearby villages.

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