Slain pro-Maoists’ kin face dark future

August 8th, 2010 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sabyasachi Roy
Lalgarh, Aug 8 (IANS) The dilapidated thatched cottage is home to a grieving family. Slain pro-Maoist Lalmohan Tudu’s mother Dhamoni asks: “Has the government wiped out the Maoists by killing my son?”

Tudu, who headed the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), a pro-Maoist body, was shot dead by police Feb 23.

Tudu’s two sons, Leander (13) and Bhupati (10) and elder daughter Lalita (16), don’t understand why their father died. They don’t know if they should believe what their father told them or what police claims is true.

Like Tudu’s, the families of leftwing rebel leaders killed by security forces in this region are struggling to survive.

Shunned by fellow tribals and seemingly forgotten by urban intellectuals who once were vocal in their support, the families of slain rebel leaders stare at a dark future.

Tears, one person said, are their sole companions.

“Our father said he was fighting to protect the rights of the tribals. But the police claim our father waged war against the nation and damaged government property,” said Leander.

Lalita appeared for her first board examination the very day her father was killed, a few metres from their house in what the police claimed to be an encounter. Lalita failed in the examination.

Later, when this IANS correspondent asked her whether she was interested in continuing her studies, Lalita remained silent, betraying no emotions. She kept gazing at the courtyard as tears rolled down her eyes.

Lalmohan Tudu’s widow Lakhimoni lamented that her husband refused to heed repeated pleas not to get involved with Maoists.

“If only he had listened to us, he would not have had to die. We tried to convince him not to join but he was moved by the plight of the women tortured by the police, Lokhimoni told IANS.

The PCAPA chief’s killing left his family so scared that they did not even approach the administration to claim his body. “We were too scared,” said Lokhimoni.

With Tudu’s death, his family has plunged into financial woes. The widow finds it difficult to get their land cultivated.

“Lalita has given up her studies, my sons have lost their interest in studies. They realise it will be difficult for me to bear their tuition fees and run the family simultaneously,” the mother lamented.

The story is no different in the household of Biswanath Murmu alias Arjun, deputy commander of a Maoist squad who was among eight guerrillas killed in police firing at Duli village near a forest June 16.

Arjun’s mother Tushu said her son developed hatred for police in 2001 after policemen from a nearby camp in Chitabanghar village allegedly tortured local people. In 2009 he fled his home to join the “bon party” (forest outfit) to take revenge.

For 46-year-old Tushu, life is a challenge. Every day is a struggle between harvesting tree leaves and doing household chores, besides looking after her ailing husband and younger son.

Chapashole resident Sudan Tudu is yet to come out of the shock of his brother’s death.

He is the elder brother of Alo Tudu (18) alias Comrade Ganga, who was also killed in Duli village. “Now we find there is nobody beside us. We have to fend for ourselves.”

Despite the government coming out with a rehabilitation package for Maoists who gave up arms and and compensation for civilians killed by the rebels, no package exists for family members of the alleged rebels killed in shootouts or arrested by police.

West Midnapore District Magistrate S. Nigam said: “There is no such package for family members of Maoists. If anybody approaches us seeking help, we will inform the government to arrange something for them.”

Trouble erupted in Lalgarh, about 200 km west of Kolkata, in November 2008 over alleged police excesses after a landmine exploded on Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s convoy.

After the police action against the tribals, the Maoist-backed PCAPA was formed. For seven months, the government virtually did not exist in the belt as the rebels drove out the civil administration by killing political workers, torching party offices and police camps.

In June last year, the government sent paramilitary troopers and police to reclaim the area. So far, 40 “alleged” Maoists have been killed and more than 700 arrested.

(Sabyasachi Roy can be contacted at sabyasachi.r@ians.in)

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