ONLY two months have passed since Mamata Banerjee has taken over the post of the Chief Minister of West Bengal. She has a long list of programmes through which she, on the one hand, wants to sort out crucial problems of the State which were the creation of Communist misrule in this State for long 34 years and on the other hand she has committed certain development projects to be implemented within 100 days from the date of her assuming power, that is about three and half months. It is an uphill task. But the indomitable spirit of Smt Banerjee has definitely imbibed the people and the government employees with the conviction that they can do it.
The track record of her work during the last two months is not that bad. At the same it is noticed that each of the steps taken by her in respect of Singur, returning of agricultural land to the agriculturists, overhauling the education system which is in total doldrums, same is the condition of health care, infrastructural back up for industrial development is very poor which has to be regenerated, problem of Gorkhaland, Jangal Mahal (that is Maoist) problem etc. has been positively responded by the people although doubts are there for their hundred per cent success. They say it is a good start and with right spirit.
The package offered by her for sorting out the problem of Maoists in the State is in a way comprehensive. But so far as Maoists are concerned they are generally multi-faced people. They speak from so many mouths, in so many languages and in so many voices that it is very difficult to cope up with them. Their only motto is to destabilise the democratic system of the country and establish Communist dictatorship here.
In India there are eight states disturbed by the Maoists’ anti-national activities. Among these states the chief minister of Chhattisgarh Dr. Raman Singh had pursued with a unique plan of creating a new force in the name of “Salwa Judum” to combat the Maoist menace in his State. “Salwa Judum” is better known as Special Police Officers (SPO) and they were armed with licensed weapons. This technique of combating Maoists menace is not that new as this was already experimented in Jammu & Kashmir and in Punjab. But recently Supreme Court in a verdict has termed “Salwa Judum” as illegal. But Mamata Banerjee while declaring her package for combating the Maoists menace has mentioned that the people of Maoist infested areas will be given licensed arms to fight the Maoists at the same time maintain peace in the area. She said, “Ten thousand tribal people will be recruited as SPOs and given licensed arms. Fight the anti-national Maoists with government arms and do not go for any clandestine or illegal method.”
Since the apex court has given a verdict saying ‘Salwa Judum’ or SPOs are not legal bodies and ‘it is unconstitutional’, how Mamata would go about her plan of raising a force of 10,000 SPOs? Maybe there is one difference with that of Chhattisgarh’s Salwa Judum – they were not paid employees of the government. Here, Mamata has proposed to pay the SPOs from the government coffers. This is a grey area where no one is sure about the constitutionality of Bengal CM’s proposal. But the Maoist leaders have already lashed out at the chief minister saying that “she is going to re-introduce the illegal Salwa Judum of Chhattisgarh in West Bengal in the name of wiping out insurgency in the area.”
The CPI (M) & other Left parties have been saying that these are all gimmicks and Mamata is well conversant in this art. Time and again they have accused Mamata of having a clandestine relationship with the Maoists. These allegations have been countered by the Trinamool Congress leadership. Whether or not this may be true to some extent is still a big question. But so far, after assuming power of the State the chief minister has never shown any weakness towards the Maoists. On the one hand, she had offered discussion with the Maoists across the table and on the other, the CM has not agreed to withdraw Joint Forces of the Centre and the State from the disturbed zones. More so, in recent times wherever Maoists have spurted their terrorist activities with renewed vigour, the combat force has retaliated them.
For example, Bengal police, on July 15, 2011, night fought their first gun battle with the Maoists since Mamata Banerjee became chief minister, rescuing the abducted husband of a Congress Panchayat chief from a Purulia (District) village. Although both the Maoists and police agree that an unofficial ceasefire has been in place for the past two months, the encounter suggests the Chief Minister is willing to act against the rebels in law and order situations.
A senior police officer confirmed that Writers’ Buildings was consulted before 50 State armed police (SAP) commandos were sent after the Maoists in Baku village. He said the unofficial truce did not mean the rebels “could get away with murder.” The Telegraph of Kolkata reported that “the ten-minute gunfight ended with the outnumbered rebels running away, leaving behind hostage Lakshmikanta Mahato, 52, whose wife Menoka is Sabhapati of the Congress-run Jhalda block II Panchayat samiti.”
It is common knowledge among the villagers of Maoists infested area that many members of CPM led “Harmad Bahini” had clandestinely joined the Maoist terror-groups to avoid encounter or arrest by the Joint Force consisting of Central and State commandos. It is further reported that these “Harmads” are initiating terrorist attacks on the innocent people to put them into a traumatised situation. To tackle this situation Mamata has given free hand to the armed forces.