Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram may claim villagers in Maoist-dominated districts of West Bengal have dissociated themselves from the rebels, but the ground reality is less clear than that.
HT visited West Midnapore district’s Madhupore village in the heart of the state’s Maoist terrain and found villagers openly professing support to the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), a Maoist-backed tribal outfit.
Madhupore has been outside state control for more than a year, and there is fierce resistance from within whenever CPI-M workers or government officials try to enter the village.
The PCAPA has tried to fill that void and brought in basic amenities, villagers claim. Some villagers said they were worried that CPI-M workers were trying to sneak in to the village.
“CPI-M goons are accompanying security forces as guides,” said Ratan Deb Singh, a villager. “Even their (the forces’) bulletproof vehicles are carrying CPI-M strongmen.” But local CPI-M leaders claimed party men were residents of the village.
“It is natural for villagers to try to return to their villages,” said Shyam Pandey, CPI-M zonal secretary of Salboni, the area under which Madhupore falls. “Can’t CPI-M supporters belong to a village?” A rally was held here on Sunday against Chidambaram’s visit to Largarh, 14 km away, on the same day.