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State tiptoes into Kishan vacuum

- Development projects under way in Burishole to pre-empt return of rebels

Burishole, Sept. 9: Development prospects are sprouting in Burishole at a pace not clocked in three decades, all because of its close association with the life and death of Maoist leader Kishan.

The West Midnapore administration has built a concrete irrigation channel, a pond and started laying a moram road in the village, the move apparently to ensure there is no resentment among villagers after the death of Kishan here in November.

The state government has also assured villagers that the rest of the projects promised in the past few months such as constructing wells and a primary health centre would be completed shortly.

The villagers said they have also been promised irrigation pumps at several places in Burishole to enable farmers cultivate through the year.

Sources said the projects were prompted by a report from the state intelligence branch, which said that only development would ensure the villagers, some of who are alleged Maoist supporters, were not dissatisfied with the government after the death of Kishan in the jungles here.

“Kishan had been visiting Burishole frequently before he was gunned down. Some of his aides might have helped us to track him down, but we have no reason to believe that all the villagers wanted to see him dead. Instead, Kishan was supported by local people to some extent. We suggested the government carry out development work before rebels return to the area and try to win over the villagers, playing the card of lack of development,” an IB officer said.

Lalmohan Mahato, a farmer in his early seventies, said the villagers never expected such development work to happen in six months.

Sesh tin doshoke kono kaj hoyni amader gramey…. Police chhara shesh kobe sarkari lok dekhechhi amader gramey mone pore na…. Shobai ashte shuru korlo oi manushta mara jaoar por… (No development took place in our village in the past three decades…. Other than policemen, I cannot remember having seen any government officer. Everyone started coming here after the death of the man),” he said.

The farmer pointed out that development has not been that fast in neighbouring villages. “Our village is getting development projects very quickly. Neighbouring villages like Kapatkata, Gosainbandh and Kushboni are yet to get any of the facilities,” he said.

While most district leaders refused to comment when asked if the projects were being completed quickly to win over villagers in the rebel zone, western region development minister Sukumar Hansda said tonight: “Development work in Jungle Mahal is going on with funds from my department and the forest department is carrying out the work. The development work in Burishole is part of that programme.”

Asked why development work is yet to take off in the villages neighbouring Burishole, the minister said, “Development work will happen in all Jungle Mahal areas.”

Another villager, Nibaran Mahato, said: “They (government officials) engaged the villagers for digging a pond under the 100 days’ work scheme. After a few days, they brought payloaders to complete the work quickly. The pond will help us bathe in our own village. Earlier, we needed to walk 2km to a canal inside the jungle for a bath,” he said.

On how the moram road, which is being laid for the past month, would help the villagers, Lalmohan said no vehicle could come to their village because of lack of a proper road. “ Now, we are getting a 40ft wide road. We had to travel 3km to reach the nearest metalled road that connects the area with Jhargram.”