Tribal women in Jhargram protest against Maoist-led group

July 23rd, 2010 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, July 23 (IANS) Coming out in protest for the first time, thousands of tribal women in Maoist-affected Jhargram in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district Friday held a demonstration against a rebel-led tribal group for forcing them to join their agitations.
The women also formed a committee to resist the alleged torture of them by members of the Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities’ (PCAPA).

Thousands of women from Radhanagar, Saktinagar, Gaighata villages of Jhargram held aloft sticks and brooms during their procession to oppose the PCAPA’s diktat of joining their procession at gun point.

Sabitri Mahato, a housewife of Radhanagar village, said, “On Thursday night about 20 PCAPA members backed by the Maoists equipped with arms and bombs assembled at Radhanagar school playground and ordered us to join their procession to be held at Jhargram. When we opposed them, they started to beat us.”

“We told them we have a lot of work to do. We have to look after our children and even help our husbands in the field. So we cannot join the procession,” said Mahato.

“As we refused they started to beat us with lathis and other weapons and even threatened us with dire consequences,” alleged Mahato.

“When the Maoists pulled out their guns, the women decided to oppose them and chased them with sticks and brooms,” said a tribal woman.

The Maoists and the PCAPA members, who were forced to retreat, hurled bombs and fired in the air while fleeing, police said.

“This morning thousand of women assembled and took an oath to resist the activities and movements of the Maoists and the PCAPA members in their areas,” said Mukesh Kumar, Additional Superintendent of Police (operation) Jhargram.

“It is a good sign that the villagers have realised that the Maoists are not doing any good to them. They have admitted that the PCAPA and Maoists used to force them to participate in their rallies,” said Kumar.

“We have assured to provide security to the women,” said Kumar.

A major portion of Jhargram sub-division is considered a hot bed of the Maoists. A series of attacks by Maoists, including an attack on the Silda Eastern Frontier Rifles camp, Gidhni police camp, Deer Park, the Gyaneshwari Express tragedy in which 148 people were killed, took place in Jhargram.

Several gun battles were reported in Jhargram and a large number of Maoists’ hideouts have been located in the past few months in the area, said a senior police officer.

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