The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naxalite scare for cadre

Oct. 23: CPM functionaries in West Midnapore and adjoining Bankura and Purulia, which have a sizeable People’s War presence, are now living in fear.

The landmine blast and ambush in the Kantajora forest of Purulia that killed an officer-in-charge and injured five policemen have instilled the fear in the cadre. Ten CPM workers and three policemen were killed in the past two years in ambushes and encounters in the districts.

Prominent party organiser and member of the CPM’s zonal committee at Shilda in West Midnapore’s Banspahari, Anil Mahato, broke down in front of district party secretary Dipak Sarkar yesterday. “Where shall we look for security' Who will give us security' We don’t know. That is why we are turning to you,” Mahato told Sarkar between sobs.

Sarkar had gone to meet the family of Barid Baran Das, the CPM local committee member who was shot and then hacked to death in Banspahari on Tuesday night. What he told a meeting of party workers at Shilda held out little hope. Realising that the party workers were demoralised in the face of regular attacks by suspected People’s War activists, Sarkar told them: “We should not pin our hopes only on the police for security. We will have to strengthen our organisation, keep a watch on the situation and gather intelligence on the movement and activities of the militants.”

But the words provided little solace and no sense of security to the CPM supporters.

“After the ambush of the officer-in-charge of Bandwan, security was stepped up in the Naxalite-infested areas. But Barid was brutally killed. The police could not prevent it,” said a party worker.

On Tuesday, the assailants of Barid Baran went to Mahato’s house at Orli village and threatened his family with dire consequences if he did not “surrender” to them immediately. Mahato has fled home since and is living in Banspahari. Another leader, Sisir Mahato, withdrew himself from the CPM after an attack in October last year.

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