The tables have turned. Maoists, who had widely campaigned ahead of the 2011 Assembly polls asking people to vote against the CPI(M), have now launched a poster campaign asking people not to vote for Trinamool Congress.
More than 20 posters surfaced at Ghatbera in Purulia on Tuesday, some of them threatening local Trinamool leaders with dire consequences should they try to suppress people’s movements in the area. Others forbid people to vote for Trinamool Congress, which the Maoists claim, are now exploiting people.
This is the third time in one month that Maoist posters surfaced in the Ayodhya hills area of Purulia district, after a gap of more than a year.
“We had cleaned up all the Maoists from the area. They are sneaking in from Jharkhand, sticking posters and going away. This is why the government wants more forces guarding the border,” self-employment and self-help group minister and Balarampur MLA, Shantiram Mahato said.
Purulia district has 380km long common border with Jharkhand’s Bokaro, Dhanbad and East Singbhum districts. The border areas in Jharkhand are forested, and Maoists are known to have a strong presence.
In 2011, Maoists had disbanded their once-mighty Ayodhya hills platoon – consisting of 34 members – when the platoon chief Arnab Dam alias Vikram decided to quit the organisation. A number of arrests made the situation tough for Maoists. The death of Kishenji has stopped Maoist activities in Purulia district.
“However, Maoists have been regrouping in Purulia under the leadership of Ranjit Pal alias Tarit and Haladhar Gorai over the past six months. They have held some meetings with villagers,” a police source said.
Ahead of the 2011 Assembly elections, Maoist spokesperson from Purulia, Vikram, had issued a series of media statements, indirectly asking people to vote for Trinamool. A number of his statements had also praised the role of Mamata Banerjee.However, Trinamool-Maoist relations in Purulia turned bitter ever since the Jangalmahal Unyayan Birodhi Protirodh Mancha, a Trinamool-backed anti-Maoist vigilante gang, launched their drive against the Maoists in July-August 2011.
The leader of the Mancha, Aghor Hembram, is one of the key targets of the Maoists in this area.