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Soiree ire on ‘solemn’ day

Jhargram, Nov. 25: Residents of a West Midnapore village last night allegedly assaulted seven persons for trying to stop an annual song-and-dance session saying a “frivolous” event could not be held on a “day of mourning”, an apparent reference to Maoist leader Kishan’s death on November 24 last year.

The jhumur gaan (folk song and dance) in Keundi, 6km from Jhargram, was stopped after the trouble. Kishan was gunned down by security forces in the Burishole forest, 20km from Keundi.

Although the seven youths, all residents of villages within 2km of Keundi and aged between 20 and 30, did not mention Kishan’s name, they said “frivolous programmes” should not be held “on a day of mourning”.

The villagers said the jhumur gaan was in progress when, around 11pm, two youths identified as Ashok Mahato and Parimal Mahato started protesting.

“Ashok and Parimal came near the stage and started shouting: ‘Ei shoker diney ato moja korar ki hoyeche? Ato utsab kisher? (why are you indulging in so much fun on this day of mourning? What is the festivity all about?)’ We tried to pacify them but soon, Dinesh Mahato (another protester) joined them,” a villager said.

Four more youths from Pindrakuli village, 2km away, came rushing with bamboo sticks and allegedly threatened to beat up the villagers. The four were identified as Subhas Mahato, Buddheswar Mahato, Sripati Mahato and Bankim Mahato. “They also threatened to bring guns,” another villager said.

“Initially, we tried to make them see sense but when they threatened to shoot us and blow up the place with landmines, we got angry and thrashed them. We locked up the seven in a room and later handed them over to police,” the villager said.

The police have detained six youths for interrogation, while the seventh, Subhas Mahato, has been hospitalised.

The villagers alleged that the seven youths were active members of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA).

“We are feeling scared now. The youths were among the villagers who had taken active part in the Maoist movement. The villages they came from were Maoists strongholds once,” the villager said.

The additional superintendent of police of Jhargram, Sumit Kumar, said: “We have started an investigation and are trying to find out whether the youths have any link with Maoists.”

Several posters suspected to be prepared by Maoists were found pasted on house walls and strewn on roads and fields in places on the outskirts of Jhargram town, within a 6km radius of Keundi.

The posters had messages like “Kishan’s death will be avenged”, “Trinamul leaders who are the people’s enemy will be tried in the people’s court”, and “We urge all to intensify the people’s movement”.