A joint force of CRPF and state police personnel on June 16, 2010, gunned down at least eight Maoist Guerrillas, three of them women, in a six hour shoot out in Ranjya forest, 7-8 km from Salboni in West Midnapore and 150 km from Kolkata. The other five who have been killed in the shoot out were hard core People Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) cadres. Over the past year, the joint forces have conducted more than 100 operations in the Jangalmahal area. But they could bring desired results only in two operations – one in the Hatilot forest area in March this year and the other at Salboni on June16 morning. One suspected rebel, in his teens, has been captured and a huge cache of arms, including an Insas and an AK-47.
Since the joint forces launched their operation in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura a year ago, only 12 Maoists had died in police firing until June16 pre-dawn strike catapulted the toll to 20. Around 45 policemen have been killed by the rebels in the past year.
On June 15 that is a day earlier, the joint forces arrested 13 Maoists including three intellectuals – Nisha Biswas, a scientist of the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Kanishka Chowdhury, professor of Behala College and writer Manik Mondal. Although these intellectuals have been trying to project a liberal face of their activities and a humane face of their hobnobbing with the Marxists, the joint forces have brought serious allegations against them. They were charged under sections 120B, 121, 121A, 124A, 144 and 188 CrPC. They were remanded to judicial custody for 14 days by a lower court in Jhargram on June 16.
Now, there was hue and cry against the arrest of ‘so-called intellectuals’, because it is a common knowledge with the local people that those intellectuals used to maintain a deep relationship with the Maoists. The trio was allegedly present in several Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities-led kangaroo courts and had even provided financial help to the rebel outfit. Biswas and Chowdhury have been signatories to various petitions against the mobilisation of paramilitary forces to Lalgarh. An organisation known as Association For Protection of Democratic Rights comprised of almost all ex-Naxalites, went to Midnapore court on June 16 and protested the arrests of ‘so called intellectuals’.
On June 15, along with those 13 people, three journalists were also arrested. But when these journalists had produced their Identity Cards police was convinced about their credentials and let them free. But the fact remains that the Maoists have developed relations with few journalists to know the latest development in social and political affairs so that they can decide on their strategy accordingly. Currently an adage which says “Information is Power” has become very popular among the strategists in the field of politics, economics and social affairs. So the CPI Maoist has developed a group of Chamcha journalists who used to supply crucial information to them. Among the three journalists arrested on that day there was at least one Chamcha journalist. Many fellow journalists know him and his role as black ship, but they do not speak out against them in the open. The reasons are obvious. This particular Chamcha journalist, it is alleged, used to supply newspaper clippings of those news in which Maoists have natural interest. This is out and out against the principles and ethics of journalism, but this is going on without any hindrance. We journalists are very much vocal whenever freedom of press is jeopardised or crippled by administrative authorities. But should we not come forward to take positive actions against such role of so-called ‘black ships’ of our profession?
Primarily, Maoists had placed their own trusted persons in the group of journalists to collect first hand reports about administrative activities. But they felt that this was fraught with danger. So they had changed their strategy and started getting trusted journalists from among the general journalist cadres. This paradigm change is for the simple reason that police or security forces generally do not touch the people belonging to ‘fourth estate’. But now time has come when national interest should be put on high esteem.
In this connection, one should not be inattentive towards the shrewd move of CPI (M) in and around Jangalmahal area. On the one hand, they are very much active to expand their area of influence and for that they are fighting tooth and nail against the Maoists under the leadership of incriminated CPM leader Sushanta Ghosh, a minister in the Left Front government of West Bengal. This was the person who, with the blessings of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Chief Minister of the state, had organised the inhuman torture and carnage on the innocent people of Nandigram and Midnapore. When under the pressure of the people, arrest warrant had been issued against Sushanta Ghosh, it was simply ignored. Whenever question put in the Assembly, the pet reply from the ruling party representative would say that “police say that Mr. Ghosh is at large, they could not arrest him” while at that very moment he might be roaming on the corridors of Writers’ Buildings (the state secretariat