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Bid to stem rebel growth

- Pond, irrigation canal built after Kishan’s death

Burishole, Sept. 9: The West Midnapore administration has built a concrete irrigation channel, a pond and started laying a moram road in Burishole in the past six months, the move apparently to ensure there is no resentment among villagers after the death of Maoist leader Kishan.

The state government has also assured people in the Jungle Mahal village 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.

Villagers said they have also been promised water 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 that the villagers, some of who are alleged Maoist supporters, were not dissatisfied with the government after the death of Kishan here in November last year.

“Kishan had been visiting Burishole and its adjoining areas frequently before he was gunned down in November. 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.

“No development took place in our village in the past three decades…. Other than policemen, I cannot remember seeing any government officer. Everyone started coming here after the death of the man,” Lalmohan said.

The farmer pointed out that development has not been that fast in neighbouring villages. “We find that our village is getting several 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 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. “There was no road on which vehicles could ply. 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.”