|Naru Maity’s father holds his grandson at their home in Gonara village on Monday and (above) Naru after his arrest on Sunday. Pictures by Pradip Sanyal
Patashpur (East Midnapore), March 19: Naru Maity’s father never had any inkling that his son was the leader of an armed squad whose job was to recapture lost ground.
Today, he looked a broken man.
“My son was an active member of the CPM local committee in Patashpur. But I never knew that he had gone to Nandigram to help the party reoccupy land,” said Debashish Maity.
“Had I known his plans, I wouldn’t have allowed him to go,” he mumbled, as tears rolled down his cheeks.
Naru and nine others were hiding in a brick kiln near Tekhali, seven kilometres from Nandigram, when a CBI team raided the place on Saturday. The 10 “Red Brigade” members, 10, caught with a huge cache of arms and ammunition, were later handed over to police.
Family members of some of the arrested men are too shocked to react. They say all of them had worked “loyally” for the ruling party and didn’t expect they would be arrested in return.
“Why should I hide the fact that he belongs to the party' Even those who were with Naru were party comrades and had been to my house several times,” Debashish said, sitting in his mud house in Gonara, a village about 45 km from Nandigram. “I don’t know what will happen to him now.”
Debashish, who works as a cook, said his son had left home in the early hours of March 12, two days before the carnage in Nandigram claimed at least 14 lives. “He told me he was going to Calcutta to carry out an important job on behalf of the local committee. In the past, too, the party had sent him to several places.”
But Debashish doesn’t blame the party. Rather, he says, it has helped him out in the past.
About six months ago, the local committee had given Naru a loan of Rs 60,000 to repay a loan his father had taken. “The party has helped us a lot in the past and I don’t blame it for what has happened to my son. I was unable to repay the loan, which I had taken three years ago. The amount was spent on his wedding. The party office gave us Rs 60,000 six months ago to repay the loan,” he said.
In Gonara, people spoke in hushed voices.
“He (Naru) was an integral part of the party’s scheme of things in Patashpur. He led the youth brigade here and worked very hard for the party in the Assembly elections,” recalled Ramesh Das, a neighbour.
The family of Kanai Das, another member of the action squad, was not even aware of his arrest.
“I don’t know anything. He assured me that he would return after a month,” Kanai’s wife Meera said. “Two party leaders came last night and asked me not to talk to anybody,” she added.
Sushal Maity, officer-in-charge of the Patashnagar police station, confirmed that none of the 10 arrested men had criminal antecedents.
“Our officers visited the home of every one of them and spoke to the families. A preliminary probe has revealed that they had no criminal background. I have submitted a report to the Khejuri police station today,” he said.
According to the police officer, all the arrested persons are CPM workers.
“Some of them have been associated with the party over the past two decades. We have also approached the local party office to help in the investigation,” he said.
Naru and his gang have confessed to the police that they had come to attack villagers in Khejuri.
“They carried six-chamber revolvers of Japanese-make and Chinese pistols. They said a local leader in Khejuri had provided them with the arms. We raided his house today but he is absconding,” said an officer involved in the probe.