THE butchery of eight unarmed people in Netai village (3.5 kms from Lalgarh, under West Midnapore district) on Friday (January 7, 2011) in the open daylight has again opened up the brutal face of CPM. More than eighteen people had serious bullet injuries. They are under treatment in district hospital and six of them have been transferred to a hospital in Kolkata. Few people are still missing. People of Netai suspect that they have also been killed and the dead bodies were hushed up.
A strong shock wave is still running throughout the state. Ms Mamata Banerjee said, “I do not want to assume power in the state sitting on the heap of dead bodies and treacherous bloodbath.” This reminded us the carnage took place in Nandigram (West Midnapore district) three years back when fourteen innocent people were killed on the spot. They were killed by the CPM goons in the guise of police under the order from the Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya. At that time the CPM and government of West Bengal had been denying their involvement. But ultimately it was proved that the firing order was signed by Buddhadev Bhattacharya himself. In fact, they are in habit of telling lie.
This time also they (CPM) have let loose a barrage of misinformation and disinformation about the killing of Netai to divert the attention of the people and squarely put the blame on TMC, INC, and Maoists. But the police said, “There was firing in the direction of the house, which came not from the Maoists, but from CPM cadres on the ground who wanted the villagers to disperse. Those in the house had sought help from outside when they saw villager. They knew the identities of those who fired first. It was a calculated move on the part of the CPM cadre.”
Mamata Banerjee has openly levelled allegation against the state government and its Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya saying, “Buddhadev had planned this disgraceful and heinous attack on innocent people just to terrorise people for not supporting them. To give the goons free hand, Buddhadev had called the District Magistrate and the District Superintendent of Police to Writers’ Buildings (Secretariat of the state) on the plea of certain important consultation on the day the carnage took place. Hence it is obvious that the conspiracy was hatched by him.”
Another point, in this connection, to be kept in mind that those who were involved in this conspiracy were roaming in the area including Netai village with armed (armed with AK 47 guns) police guards. These CPM leaders are Abani Singh, Suren Mondal, Joydeb Giri, Tapan Dey, Aswini Chalak and former officer of Zilla Parishad Ms Fullara Mondal. Within 24 hours of the incident the Central Government CID had submitted its report where they have mentioned the names of Abani Singh and three others who brought those CPM goons from Garbeta and Keshpur on December 22, 2010 and was overseeing the plan. The state CID, since assigned the work of enquiry, could not or did not nail down the culprits yet. Hence, even after the lapse of 72 hours police could not round up these culprits. On the other hand, they are enjoying the protection of police. Is it not a conspiracy?
No matter how hard the CPM leadership may try to portray the villagers as Maoist sympathisers, it is difficult to see Friday’s (January 7, 2011) gruesome killings as an armed confrontation between two groups. Sitting 50-km away at Midnapore town, CPM central committee member Shyamal Chakravorty told reporters that there were at least 40 bullet marks on the walls of Rathin Dandapat’s house, indicating that the villagers, or their mentors, had fired at the building provoking counter-fire.
On this, the Kolkata edition of Hindustan Times commented: “Nothing can be further from the truth. The fact is that there wasn’t a single bullet mark on the building. Friday’s was an unprovoked attack on the villagers by armed contract killers, hired by the local CPM at Rs 200 a day.”
There is enough evidence that the camp meant for what the party claims “homeless people returning to their village” was packed with harmads (armed cadres) armed to the teeth with both improvised and sophisticated weapons. There is the testimony of Rathin Dandapat’s own aunt left behind by the harmads perhaps due to pity or fear. Rathin Dandapat’s aunt said: “What can I say? They will kill me. They used to rule the village from here. I saw it all. I used to stay with the armed people here. But they spared me because I am Rathin’s aunt. I stayed in a room on the ground floor and they shared the rest of the house.”
Why this killing spree in the district of East Midnapore and West Midnapore? The fact remains that Mamata’s party—TMC was very weak in these areas. When she started taking extra interest in the welfare of this area, the result was local people started switching over to the Mamata’s party—TMC and it so happened that both districts of Midnapore known as CPM-fortress, started breaking. CPM became extra alert. But the progress of TMC was unhindered. But CPM could not sit idle. They started applying their intimidating tactics. For this purpose, they had to depend on the hired mercenaries. But after the carnage of Friday, a section of CPM had started rethinking as to should they depend on the mercenaries.
The dependence on mercenaries or hired fighters stationed in several camps has driven a sharp wedge in the CPM’s West Midnapore district secretariat. The moderates in the district unit feel the mercenaries have let down the party. The CPM local leadership has found that one of the mercenaries in Netai camp had panicked and started firing from his SLR (Self Loading Rifle). The other mercenaries soon followed.
The moderates wanted to settle the issue with their leaders Dipak Sarkar , CPM secretary for the district of Midnapore and Paschimanchal Development Minister Sushanta Ghosh. A meeting was convened. But on the appointed day Sarkar could not be present. Ghosh was present. But before he faced any attack, central committee member Shyamal Chakravorty tried to douse the rage by saying it is not the right time for introspection and the party should handle the situation to a tactful manner. The killings have revealed a division within the district unit and it seems the moderates have the upper hand.
According to party sources, the mercenaries costly came from Garbeta and Chandrakona Road—strongholds of Sushanta Ghosh. Some of them also came from North 24 Parganas and Murshidabad. They were paid a daily wage of Rs. 150-200, which was sent to their families.