Pintu Tudu at his home. Picture by Pronab Mondal
Binpur, March 19: Surrendered Maoist leader Suchitra Mahato has been getting the package the state government has announced, but a 20-year-old youth accused of helping her to escape after the gun-battle that killed Kishan in Burishole is struggling to prove himself innocent.
Pintu Tudu, a Class XI dropout, has to appear before Jhargram sub-divisional court as the police have charged him with waging war against the state and hatching a criminal conspiracy.
“I have been facing the charges for helping someone who was welcomed at Writers’ Buildings by Mamata Banerjee. The chief minister said that Suchitra had left the Maoists and surrendered to join the mainstream. But the irony is that I am still an accused and has to attend the court whenever a hearing comes up,” said Pintu, sitting on a charpoy in his courtyard at Sarakata village, adjacent to the Burishole forest.
Suchitra, one of the most dreaded guerrillas in Jungle Mahal and wife of slain Maoist leader Sashadhar Mahato, was made to appear at a news conference on March 9, 2012. Mamata had told then journalists that the rebel had decided to start a new life after marrying Prabir Garai, who was by her side.
Suchitra was offered the job of a home guard, but she refused to accept it. “I want a permanent job as promised by the chief minister,” she had said.
Suchitra is now at a camp in Midnapore town which was set up for surrendered Maoists. The government has deposited Rs 3 lakh in a fixed deposit account for her as part of the package.
Suchitra’s name appeared in key Maoist strikes such as the attack on the Eastern Frontier Rifles camp in Shilda, in which 24 jawans were killed in February 2011. She was also said to have been involved in the attack on then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s convoy in November 2008 and in the killing of two polling personnel when their car was blown up in the Burishole forests. She had also accompanied Kishan during his last few hours. But no case has been started against her.
Asked to compare the treatment meted out to Pintu Tudu and Suchitra Mahato, the superintendent of police of Jhargram, Bharati Ghosh, refused comment.
Pintu today said: “Jakey palanor byapare sahajya korar jonney jail khetechi, shey to ekhon sarkarer guest hoye achhe… tar birudhhe to kono case kore ni ei sarkar… tahole keno amar birudhhe ana charge gulo tule nichhe na police (I had to languish in jail for helping some one escape who is now a guest of the state government… no case was initiated against her… why don’t the police withdraw the charges against me?)”
The younger son of an eight-member family that survives by farming on their four-acre plot was picked up by the police on an early morning raid in his house on November 25, 2011. “I was not produced in court the next day. I was kept in the lock-up of Jamboni police station for four days and again remanded in police custody for seven days when they produced me before a magistrate in Jhargram court,” Pintu recalled. “I was in Jhargram jail for three months before I was granted bail in March last year.”
Pintu said he was upset that he could not appear for last year’s higher secondary examination because he could not prepare for the tests. He also dropped out of school and started working in a private resort near Jhargram town to earn money to fight his legal battle.
Pintu will have to appear before Jhargram court on April 4.
“I have to go to court once a month for the hearing of my case. I am from a poor family. On every occasion, I have to pay Rs 200 to Rs 400 to my lawyer for fighting the legal battle. I work as a daily wage earner in a private resort near Jhargram town and earn Rs 115 every day. However, I get work for three months a year,” said Pintu.