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Lalgarh Ravan ritual after three years

Lalgarh, Oct. 25: The veil of Maoism has lifted and brought back a ritual in Lalgarh after three years.

Nearly 15,000 Lalgarh residents watched the burning of a 25-foot-tall Ravan effigy (locally known as Ravan dahan) on Dusshera yesterday.

Police had not given permission for the event from 2009 to 2011 because of the Maoist problem.

An officer said: “During the burning of the effigy, a large number of firecrackers stuffed inside the Ravan effigy are burst. We used to fear that Maoists would launch attacks taking advantage of the sound of crackers.”

Another officer said Lalgarh had become the centre of the Maoist movement after the rebel blast targeting the convoy of then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Salboni in November 2008.

“In 2009, Maoists set up bases in Lalgarh and neighbouring Jhitka, Purnapani, Tarki, Karamshole and Bhulagera. The villages in and around Lalgarh were controlled by the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities. There were fears of Maoist attacks in Lalgarh. So the police did not allow Ravan dahan for three years,” an officer said.

“But this year, we allowed the programme to be held because rebels have been flushed out of Lalgarh. The Maoists have been maintaining a low profile since the death of guerrilla leader Kishan in a shoot-out last year,” the officer said.

Yesterday, Ravan dahan was watched by over 15,000 people. It was organised by the Lalgarh Sarbojonin Durgotsav Committee, which has been holding the programme for several years now.

“We spent Rs 50,000 on the Ravan. We stuffed it with firecrackers worth about Rs 30,000. Last night, people from Lalgarh and neighbouring areas witnessed the event, which started at 8pm,” said Tapas Adhikari, the committee secretary.

The committee-organised puja was kept low key in the past three years.