Police clean chit to Lalgarh 7 -Tribals step up demands

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  • Published 16.11.08

Belpahari, Nov. 15: The CID today gave a clean chit to seven persons arrested in connection with the November 2 Maoist blast, encouraging tribals to demand the release of all those held in the last 10 years on the suspicion of being rebels.

The CID told the chief judicial magistrate of West Midnapore that it did not have evidence to nail the seven, including three schoolboys. The court accepted the plea.

All seven are already out on bail.

“The decision has proved that the seven persons were innocent but were made to suffer in the police lock-up. Now, they (the police) will have to release all those arrested for no fault of theirs in the past 10 years,” said Sukhshanti Baskey, a leader of the newly formed Pulishi Santras Birodhi Jonogoner Committee, which is backing the tribal agitation against police raids in Lalgarh.

As word about the case spread, members of the committee divided themselves into five groups and went to Goaltor, Sarenga, Belpahari, Dubrajpur and Raipur — all in the Maoist-infested belt in West Midnapore — to collect the names of those arrested in the last 10 years on the suspicion of being CPI (Maoist) activists.

“They will have to be released. This is one of our demands for ending our protest,” Baskey said. “We are collecting the names (of the arrested persons) to prepare a list. We will continue the work tomorrow. The list will handed over to the district administration on Monday.”

Tribals have dug up roads in the Lalgarh area to put a stop to police raids. Yesterday, the committee demanded that the police be disallowed from carrying out searches between 5pm and 6am.

“If the police can admit that they made a mistake by arresting innocent persons after the blast this time, they should also admit they had committed the same mistake earlier,” Baskey said.

The committee members pasted photocopies of the list of demands across Belpahari, about 250km from Calcutta where around 400 tribals marched and shouted slogans against police atrocities in Lalgarh.

“We are with the people of Lalgarh and our protest will continue till their problems are sorted out,” said 18-year-old Jonaki Tudu, who was armed with bow and arrows.

Jonaki’s elder brother Samir had left home five months ago saying he wanted to work for the welfare of tribals. “He will come home after six months. I will stand guard outside my village with others till he returns,” Jonaki said.

Tribals also beat up a member of the Bharat Jakat Majhi Marwa, a group of elders that was negotiating with district officials till two day ago to end the road blockade in Lalgarh.

Munshiram Murmu, the convener of the group’s youth wing, was assaulted by the tribals when he tried to remove branches of trees at Kalabani, near Jhargram, along with additional district magistrate (general) R.A. Israel.

He had to apologise before 500 tribals gathered there. “Munshiram is a betrayer. He is no one to decide when the blockades will be withdrawn,” said Madhu Hembram.

This is the second time Munshiram has been assaulted. On Thursday, he was attacked by the tribals while trying to clear a road in Jhargram.