| The burnt autorickshaw and the shop of Badal Pramanik at Digha village. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Digha (Ghatshila), Sept. 7: Defiance of Maoist diktat on women for joining their outfit resulted in death of two villagers and injury to four women in this remote village last night.
Badal Parmanik (35) and Nimai Murmu (40) of Digha village under Ghatshila police station were shot dead for resisting the women from joining the red.
What is worse is that the people of Digha, who were already worried about a backlash from the marauding rebels had kept the police informed about every development that followed after the villagers had spurned the Maoist effort to recruit women in their squad about a month back. The police, however, it seems, had left the villagers to fend for themselves.
The injured women have been identified as Sobha Pramanik, Anuradha Pramanik, Saraswati Murmu and Aseda Murmu.
All of them have been admitted to a private hospital, the identity of which has been kept under wraps for security.
Around 4.30pm yesterday, when most of the men of Digha were busy watching a football match, a rebel squad led by one Rahul launched an attack on them.
Eyewitnesses told The Telegraph that there were about 200 of them, including more than 30 women in civil dresses who rounded up the village and started forcing their way into households, firing in the air. The Maoists also set one grocery shop and an autorickshaw on fire.
“The rebels wanted to drive out the women by terrifying them, taking advantage of the absence of the male members in houses. As the Naxalites were carrying out their operation, some of the villagers were returning from the football match but seeing the village under siege, they fled,” a villager said.
“Badal Pramanik and Nimai Murmu, who had also been to the match, put up a resistance but were shot down.”
The rebels, some villagers said, had first thrashed the two with sticks and then shot them point blank.
While the rebels were creating havoc in the village, some villagers had rushed to the Ghatshila police station, about 13km from Digha.
“I rushed to Ghatshila police station and informed the officials about the attack around 6.50pm. But they only got ready around 9.30pm. When a contingent of the force arrived at Digha, it was midnight. The Naxalites had fled towards the jungle bordering Bengal,” said Shailesh Pramanik, the elder brother of slain Badal.
Director-general of police V.D. Ram, who is camping in Digha, countered the allegation, saying: “The police cannot rush to the spot without verifying possibility of Naxalites setting up a trap for the forces.”
He added that there were landmines laid on the road leading to Digha and the police had to take care while negotiating the stretch till the village. The police chief, however, admitted that there must have been some flaw in beefing up security in Ghatshila, which came in for rebel attack for the second time in the last six months.
Villagers had been complaining of late on how the Maoists have been forcing them to let at least one woman from each of the 50 houses in Digha to join the Naxalites.
Later, several ministers, including chief minister Madhu Koda, his predecessor Arjun Munda visited the village.
Following the incident when the rebels snatched firearms from a group of RPF at Richugota railway station in Latehar, Lohardaga and Latehar police conducted combing operations bordering the two districts when informed that the rebels had taken shelter at the Makram forest area in Lohardaga.
Lohardaga SP Subodh Prasad claimed that nearly 2,500 rounds of fire were exchanged between the police and the rebels.“The exchange of fire began after 12 noon and continued nearly two hours.”