Two days before the Republic Day, Maoists announced their presence in a West Bengal district by issuing an "open letter" calling upon the people to join them in overthrowing the Indian state through an armed struggle.
Maoist activities in the state had come to a halt after the death of Kishenji, a politburo member of the CPI (Maoist) who steered the West Bengal unit of the banned outfit.
The two-page letter, circulated by Burdwan industrial belt committee of the CPI(Maoist), termed the independence "a sham" and urged the people to join the armed struggle for a "new democratic revolution in India".
"The freedom of India only means the transformation of India from a semi-feudal colonial country to a semi-feudal semi-colonial country," said the letter, a copy which is in possession of HT.
This is the first time since Kishenji's death in Burishole forest in West Midnapore district on November 24, 2011 that any new committee of the CPI (Maoist) has issued a statement.
West Bengal secretary of the outfit, Asim Mandal alias Akash, has been untraceable since the death of Kishenji. Barring Sunil alias Ashok, all the members of the state committee are in jail.
The CPI (Maoist) Kolkata City Committee too suffered a setback with the arrest of its secretary Abhishek Mukherjee and some other members. Some of its members have become inactive.
The industrial belt in Burdwan district consists of the Asansol-Durgapur-Kulti belt, where many units such as Durgapur Steel Plant, Indian Iron and Steel Company, Alloy Steel Plant, Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, DVC, Durgapur Projects Ltd, Philips Carbon Black, several sponge iron plants, rolling mills and coal mines are located. Lakhs of workers are employed in these companies.
If the rebels succeed in getting a toehold in Burdwan, it will spell fresh trouble for the Mamata Banerjee government, which is already battling the banned Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) that has recently renewed its call to secede from the Indian union.
The KLO demands an independent country with six districts of north Bengal and four of lower Assam.
Burdwan, where the Maosits are becoming active, and Malda that is one of the six districts in the KLO demand, are separated only by Murshidabad district. Moreover, Maoists are supporters of the Kamtapur movement.
Sources claimed Maoists have been active in Burdwan's industrial belt for quite a few years but hardly made their presence public. However, this letter does not state anything about the outfit's setbacks or future plans.
An intelligence officer, wishing anonymity, said Maoists, across the country keep their activities in the industrial belts separate from their activities in forested and agricultural belts.
"Perhaps, that's why their industrial belt unit in Burdwan district managed to continue activities despite setbacks in other parts of the state," he said.
In recent times, Maoist posters have surfaced in some parts of Ayodhya hills region in Purulia district. Intelligence sources claimed Maoist leaders Bikash and Jayanta, who are now believed to be in Jharkhand, occasionally visit Jamboni, Binpur and Jhargram areas - all in West Midnapore district of Jangalmahal region.