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Mamata gives Maoists seven days

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By ARNAB GANGULY
  • Published 16.10.11
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Jhargram, Oct. 15: Mamata Banerjee today handed insurgents in Jungle Mahal a seven-day ultimatum to give up arms and come to the talks table, although she did not use the word “Maoist” even once in her 55-minute speech.

On her second visit to this West Midnapore town after becoming chief minister, Mamata dared those she branded “supari (contract) killers” to assassinate her if they had the “buker pata (guts)”.

“I am giving you seven days. Decide what you want to do in these seven days,” she said, speaking at a stadium that the security forces had turned into a fortress.

“If you want peace, negotiations can take place — but only if you give up your guns. I will give you that opportunity. I am in favour of negotiations and the doors are still open. But talks and killings cannot continue side by side.”

Although Mamata did not utter the M-word except once when she said “this is neither Marxism nor Maoism nor nationalism”, she stood flanked by the wives of two local leaders killed by suspected Maoists. Nor did she mention the CPM, unlike before when she would blame the party’s alleged shenanigans for the rise of insurgency in Jungle Mahal.

In the hills, Mamata had promised to keep Darjeeling within the state even at the cost of her life. She made the same offer for the sake of peace in Jungle Mahal.

Jibon diye shanti aanbo. Amaar rakto nin; Jungle Mahal-er rakto neben na (I shall bring peace with my life. Shed my blood but don’t bleed Jungle Mahal),” the chief minister said.

“If you want to kill me, kill me. I am here. Dekhi koto buker pata (let’s see how much guts you have).”

Since assuming power, Mamata had unofficially put a stop to the joint forces’ operations in Jungle Mahal and formed a team of interlocutors to bring the Maoists to the talks table. A few minor police raids took place recently after the continuing killings snapped her patience.

“There have been no operations in four months. We started the peace process but killings have continued. We have kept our word but you didn’t,” she said. “There will be no operations only if peace returns.”

Mamata has already dismissed as “rubbish” a recent offer of a month-long ceasefire from Maoist state secretary Akash. Trinamul sources close to her said she wanted peace on her own terms.

Mamata inaugurated and announced a raft of projects for Jungle Mahal and promised more if peace was maintained. ( )

“You want schools, colleges, hospitals, roads… I will give you everything. I will give you as many jobs as you want. But peace has to be there. Peace means development. I won’t do anything that will disturb peace,” she said.

Mamata also repeated her offer of rehabilitating surrendered rebels but it was more stick than carrot.

Before she took the microphone, she held Jayita, the five-month-old daughter of slain Trinamul leader Lalmohan Mahato, in her arms. Jayita’s mother Chhabirani as well as Dipali and Anindita, the wife and daughter of murdered Jharkhand leader Rabindranath Bose, stood on the dais beside the chief minister.

“What was the fault of this child? What wrong had these women committed? Why were their husbands killed?” Mamata asked.

“You want to kill everybody… who has given you so much power? This is no ideological battle, there is no ‘ism’. Goondas have taken the role of supari killers. They come in groups on motorcycles, wait in the darkness, lay landmines or spray bullets. No political ideology needs the backing of contract killers. The brave fight in open fields.”

Mamata then threw the killers a challenge she had earlier posed to the CPM when in the Opposition.

“Come out on an open ground. There will be no police. Your comrades and my people will face each other. Let’s see who has the last word. The Trinamul Congress is ready to face you.”

Giving the CPM reaction, leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said Mamata had caused “irreparable damage’’ by her failure to act against the Maoists for four months, which allowed the rebels to “regroup”.

Asked about her seven-day deadline, Mishra said: “She sat tight for four months. Now, she is talking about extending the time by another one week. Okay, we’ll wait.”

But he welcomed Mamata’s attack on the insurgents, while complaining she hadn’t done so when the Maoists were killing Left supporters.