| (Top) Bandana, a daughter of the slain CPM leader, wails on Sunday. (Above) Security personnel on patrol in the village. Pictures by Amit Datta
Midnapore, Jan. 1: Anil Biswas might want the CPM to fight the Maoists politically but the party's rank and file, now under attack on Naxalite turf, do not agree.
'It is easier to talk about a political battle sitting in Calcutta,' said a CPM local committee member of Banspahari in West Midnapore.
'Do our leaders know the reality on the ground' People are scared, our comrades are scared and police do nothing here. Let them come and see how dangerous the situation is for them. '
The murder of the CPM's Purulia district committee member, Rabindranath Kar, and his wife at Bandwan is not an isolated incident. Although they would not say so in public, senior CPM leaders admitted that the Bandwan strike ' the blasting of the Kuchia police camp, the laying of landmines and the knowledge that Kar's bodyguards slept away from his house ' make it apparent that it could not have been planned without local help.
'Who are we going to fi- ght' asked Ganapati Bhadra, a relative of Kar. 'Leaders with guards are getting killed.'
There are over 50 villages in Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore where the Maoists have the last word. If they can help it, CPM workers and policemen avoid visiting villages like Gurpana, Rasiknagar, Rajgram and Dhadhka in Purulia, Orli, Chrimara, Bagduba, Bhimarjun, Dakai, Laljal and Jamaimari in West Midnapore and Majgheria, Ranibandh, Raspur and Sarenga in Bankura.
'Last month the Maoists attacked two villages and beat up our comrades,' said a West Midnapore district secretariat member of the CPM.
After dark, the police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel also do not dare to venture into the rebel terrain.
'They are trying to render our comrades immobile by unleashing a reign of terror,' said CPM MP from Bankura, Basudeb Acharya.
The proximity of the villages to Jharkhand makes the rebels' movement easy.
The population of this area is over 30,000 and half of it is in West Midnapore. Less than half the land here is cultivable, though. Modern irrigation and cultivation methods are unknown. The main occupation is collecting dry sal leaves, wood and bidi leaves, but such activity is illegal.
The average income per head per day is not more than Rs 30. Added to this is poor infrastructure. The residents have to travel 10 to 12 km to reach a high school or a health centre.
'What is happening here has got nothing to do with development or the lack of it,' said the CPM's Bankura district secretary, Amiya Patra.
But even Patra admitted that with supporters running scared, fighting the rebels politically was impossible.
A district leader said: 'The villagers do not want to be seen in our rallies. So we have asked our cadre to start a whisper campaign, stick posters at night and talk to them at social functions.'