Cops torment, Maoists profit

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  • Published 28.06.09

Lalgarh, June 28: As the central forces sanitise an area and move on, state police are facing charges that they are repeating the brutality which had provoked the Lalgarh agitation in the first place.

The police allegedly beat up villagers at Pathardanga yesterday and destroyed their food grain, reminding residents why they “hated the force so much” and providing the retreating Maoists a chance to play “protector” again.

After the police left the village, the Maoists returned. They persuaded the villagers to shift to the relief camps the rebels have opened at four places between Lalgarh and Ramgarh under the banner of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities.

Last afternoon, the security forces had come under fire from the direction of Pathardanga, 3km from Lalgarh, during a sanitising operation. They fired back and waited, but nothing happened. The central forces then headed for committee leader Chhatradhar Mahato’s village, Amliya. The state police stayed back to conduct a “search” at Pathardanga.

The state police’s first target was day labourer Manoranjan Mal, 30, who had stayed back when the other males fled the village.

The police kicked the door of his house and broke it open. They began slapping and punching Mal, wife Jharna said. “Tor ghore IED rakha aachhe (you have a bomb at your home),” a policeman shouted as Jharna and her two young sons cowered.

The “search” began, with the police flinging utensils around and tearing the mattress apart. Then they came across the sack of 30kg of relief rice from the government. They ripped it open, spilled the rice on the floor, stamped on the grain and emptied a can of kerosene over it.

“This was our month’s supply but now the rice is inedible,” Jharna said at the committee’s Kantapahari camp. “This is why we hate the police so much. This was all the rice I had to feed my two sons.” Mal, whom the police took away, is in detention.

Jipita Soren said she was alone when the police barged into her home. “They threw my dinner — a bowl of cooked rice — on the floor and stamped on it.” Kamalmoti Tudu said the police poured water on her firewood, so she couldn’t cook. “In the evening, the Maoists came and said they would look after us.”

IG (western range) Kuldiep Singh said he hadn’t heard of the incidents but promised to “look into it”. “It’s a large force; so it’s possible there are some bad pennies,” he said.