Crimes committed by persons other than Maoists have fallen drastically in West Bengal’s Maoist bastion Lalgarh. Or at least they are not being reported.
According to records of the Lalgarh police station, crimes such as rapes and dowry deaths have fallen sharply in the last 18 months in this part of West Midnapore district.
But the police are not sure if the drop is because people fear facing trial in a Maoist kangaroo court, or because they want to stay away from the police.
This year hasn’t seen a single recorded case of dacoity, robbery or burglary. Nor has any rape case been registered.
So far this year, the Largah police station has received four complaints of housewives being tortured. Before November 2008 — when the Maoist-backed anti-government agitation started making national headlines — around 50 such complaints used to be lodged in a year.
“People are still afraid to visit the police station to register complaints. It can’t be concluded that Maoists have eliminated crimes,” said state Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh. “Some petty criminals have turned Maoists themselves,” he said.
For the past 18 months, the Lalgarh police station has been flooded with cases of Maoist-related violence such as murders, attacks on security forces, and looting of arms and ammunition.
“There are a few complaints from Belatikri, Lochhipur and Lalgarh towns that don’t have a strong rebel presence,” a senior police officer from West Midnapore told HT. “But we are not getting complaints from Maoist strongholds such as Dharampur, Katapahari and Ramgarh,” he said.
But the officer added a caveat: “We should keep in mind that rebels also commit crimes, but no complaints are lodged against them.”
The Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) claimed credit for the declining crime rate.“We don’t allow people to drink liquor, smoke ganja or gamble,” PCAPA spokesperson Manoj Mahato said. “These usually lead to family and social disturbances.”