The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rehab demand for kin of victims
- Focus on those who were caught in crossfire

Siliguri, Oct. 10: Limbu Das of Chengmari village in Kumargram, Jalpaiguri was only 13 years old when a police bullet grazed his scalp during a skirmish with KLO militants on May 10, 2000.

At 20, Limbu is partially paralysed and is restricted to a wheel chair. He cannot move his left limbs even after treatment.

For Rina Das of Uttar Haldibari in the same block, the situation is worse. Her brother Jiten was allegedly picked up by police on December 27, 2000 on suspicion of having links with the KLO. Jiten got bail six months later and returned home. He however, grew weak and died within a week after his release.

People like Limbu and Rina are common in the Kumargram and Mainaguri blocks of the district — once considered to be the hotbed of KLO activities. Caught between the police and the rebels most of them have been left with wounds that refuse to heal. A handful of these people came together today to bare their tales and voice their grievances against the administration at programe organised by Bandi Mukti Committee.

The committee — an apolitical organisation fighting for unconditional release of political prisoners throughout the state — provided the platform where the family members of these victims talked to reporters about their plight.

These families, who claim to have no connection with the KLO but have endured the ills of the movement, have planned to meet with administrative officials and sent letters to the President of India and the chief minister as well.

“When the state government has taken up comprehensive rehabilitation packages to induct surrendered KLO militants into the mainstream, why should we be deprived of such help'” they asked. They met the district magistrate today and submitted memorandums on the issue.

The leaders of the committee also said they would convene a rally on October 12 followed by a convention on the 15th to highlight the issue.

“There are hundreds of such people who need help from the government. We have stood in their support and will take up the issue at our convention,” said Saroj Ghosh, the divisional secretary of the committee.

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