BENGAL POLITICS: Not a mistake but to conceal – Motive behind attack on media was to hide camps

BENGAL POLITICS: Not a mistake but to conceal – Motive behind attack on media was to hide camps – hoping the world will forget why the maoist problem began in the first place ?!!

A CPM flag hoisted outside party leader Anuj Pandey’s house in Dharampur on Friday after the “recapture” of the village from the Maoists - still insecure ?!! (Amit Datta)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU

Calcutta, Sept. 5: The attack on seven journalists by CPM activists on Friday was not a mistake but a deliberate move to prevent them from reporting about camps at three villages where arms may have been stocked to counter Maoists, suggests information collected from intelligence officials.

Among the seven journalists who were attacked with iron rods and sticks was Pronab Mondal, The Telegraph’s principal correspondent, and Amit Datta, the newspaper’s photographer. Mondal’s left forearm was fractured.

CPM leaders, who have admitted the attack was carried out by party activists, have been claiming so far that the assault occurred by “mistake” — a conclusion that springs holes in the face of the intelligence findings.

The assessment of a deliberate motive to prevent the journalists from discharging their professional duty tallies with Mondal’s account in which he said an attacker had shouted “cut his hands so he can’t write any more copies”.

West Midnapore - CPM ruse to keep the press away ?!!

The intelligence officials said that CPM workers, who had marched in triumph into Dharampur on Thursday, had entered Buripal, Pathri and Kalshibhanga villages between August 15 and August 25 and set up camps there when the Maoists withdrew from that belt following intense raids by the joint forces.

“From our sources, we have learnt that the CPM activists have set up the camps to keep watch on primarily two villages — Rameswarpur and Lakshmanpur — about 9km away and where a big group of Maoist guerrillas are concentrated,” an officer said.

According to information available with the intelligence branch, Maoist action squad leaders like Bikash, Rakesh and Badal, along with about 40 guerrillas, are hiding in the jungles adjacent to the two villages.

“We have information that these guerrillas are armed with Insas and AK-47 rifles. Possibly, Kishan is also among them. So, we have reason to believe that the camps set up by the CPM are also stocked with arms. After speaking to local sources, we fear that CPM cadres may be preparing themselves for a big battle with the Maoists in this area,” a police officer said.

So, the police officer explained, the CPM cadres would not want anyone to bring to light the existence of these camps.

A CPM member explained that after the joint forces killed Sidhu Soren, the secretary of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities and chief of the PCPA’s armed wing, in July, the Maoists had retreated from the area and taken shelter in the jungles adjoining Rameswarpur and Lakshmanpur.

“If we drive out the Maoists from the jungles surrounding Rameswarpur and Lakshmanpur, it will be a victory for us. Then, large areas of Lalgarh, Salboni and Kotowali will be free from Maoists. That is why we are setting up our camps in these areas, from where we can keep an eye on their movement,” said a CPM leader in Salboni.

Other CPM sources said that the forests surrounding Rameswarpur and Lakshmanpur needed to be freed from Maoists for another reason.

“Our supporters and workers who had fled their homes in the face of Maoist threats over a year ago are now gradually returning home. So, if the Maoists are not driven out from that area, there will be a danger of attacks on villagers who are returning home after a long time,” the CPM leader said.

Cong revs up for Rahul city rally – but to stay away from Darjeeling ?!!

A Congress supporter wears a Rahul Gandhi mask near Victoria Memorial on Sunday - gearing up for Assembly Elections ?!! (Sanat Kumar Sinha)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Calcutta, Sept. 5: Rahul Gandhi will address a rally tomorrow in Calcutta to launch the Youth Congress’s membership drive and meet Bengal Congress leaders in a whistle-stop visit likely to last just over three hours.

Rahul is expected to start his address at the rally on the Shahid Minar grounds around 1.30pm. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, already in the city, is also slated to attend.

After that, Rahul is scheduled to meet executive committee members of the Congress’s state unit at Bidhan Bhavan. All MPs, MLAs and chiefs of party-run civic bodies have been invited. From there, he will leave for the airport on his way back to Delhi.

K. Keshava Rao, AICC general secretary who oversees the Bengal affairs, arrived here tonight. Rao along with state party chief Manas Bhuniya and others will receive Rahul at the airport around 12.30pm.

“Rahulji so far has no other programmes lined up tomorrow. But there may be slight changes, subject to his approval. Let us first discuss it with him on his arrival,” Rao said tonight.

Asked if Rahul planned to call on Trinamul Congress chief and railway minister Mamata Banerjee at her Kalighat home, Rao said he had “no knowledge about it”.

Bhuniya promised a rousing welcome for Rahul. “Our supporters carrying party flags will line the road from Dum Dum to Shahid Minar. Rahulji’s visit will help us revive the organisation,” the state party chief said.

Rahul’s visit comes at a time the Congress has been trying to come out of ally Trinamul’s shadow ahead of the state polls in summer next year.

Today, the Congress got a shot in the arm when Mamata’s one-time “strongman” in West Midnapore’s Keshpur, Mohammed Rafique, rejoined the party. “Rafique had left us in 1998. He returned as he was being slighted there,” said Bhuniya, without naming Trinamul.

But Rafique slammed Mamata. “I had done a lot for Mamatadi. We drove out the CPM from Keshpur and Garbeta in the late 1990s.

But these days, we were being slighted. I came to know that three days ago, she told a core committee meeting that I was no more a member.”

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