Maoist leader Kishanjee in Lalgarh: Left Front

November 22nd, 2008 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Nov 22 (IANS) Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanjee, a senior Maoist leader from Andra Pradesh, has set up a base in Lalgarh, the hotspot of the tribal agitation in West Bengal’s Midnapore (West) district, the state’s ruling Left Front (LF) said Saturday. Dubbing the Maoists as “unholy forces” opposed to development, LF chairman Biman Bose alleged that a conspiracy was on to bifurcate or trifurcate the state.

However, he admitted there was a lot of scope for development in the state’s tribal belt comprising Bankura, Midnapore West and Purulia districts.

“I can’t say there is no poverty or scarcity there. The state government has to step up welfare activities, make arrangements for drinking water and power,” Bose told reporters after a meeting of the LF partners.

“A conspiracy is on to bifurcate or trifurcate our state. I don’t know whether the unrest will continue till next year’s Lok Sabha elections,” Bose said, hinting the agitation was aimed at serving the political interests of the state’s opposition parties.

Ridiculing claims from some quarters that the agitation was a Santhal rebellion, Bose said: “If that is so, then why is Kishanjee there? Why is Sasadhar Mahato, who is not a Santhal, there?”

He said, Kanchan , the state committee secretary of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), was also camping in Lalgarh to fuel the agitation.

Bose, also the state secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), said the LF would organise an intensive and extensive campaign in various districts urging the people to foil the conspiracy to break the state.

But singing a different tune, senior leader of LF constituent Forward Bloc Ashok Ghosh said the Maoists were not involved in the Lalgarh agitation.

“It is the result of years of neglect. The state government should identify the grey areas and carry out development,” said Ghosh.

Another LF constituent Communist Party of India (CPI) said tribal issues, a history of neglect and involvement of Maoists had fanned the West Midnapore trouble.

To a query, CPI leader Nandgopal Bhattacharya said Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee would visit Lalgarh, if needed, to hold discussions.

An LF leader said the chief minister told the meeting the government was in favour of finding a political solution to the stalemate through a dialogue. The government, opposed to the use of force, was treading cautiously.

The chief minister told the LF leaders that NGOs working there were being pressurised by the Maoists to incite the tribals.

The government and the LF would distribute handbills in the tribal areas underlying the development activities the government proposed to launch there.

Trouble erupted at Lalgarh after the district police arrested some school students and allegedly heckled tribal women after a landmine blast targeted the convoy of Chief Minister Bhattacharjee and central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada near Bhadutala Nov 2.

The tribals dug up metalled roads and placed big tree trunks across them, virtually cutting off the trouble-prone zone from the rest of the district.

Leaders of various tribal groups, some of which are suspected to have links with the Maoists, are protesting for over a week against the alleged police action on the local people.

The tribals also demanded a public apology from the police for the alleged excesses committed against them during the course of investigation into the landmine blast.

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