In a throwback to the Naxalite movement of the Seventies, many of Kolkata’s youth seem to be turning to the radical Leftist fold.
If in the days after the Naxalbari uprising in 1967, youths formed the backbone of extremist action squads, police and intelligence officers in Bengal admit that students and youth have again taken to arms to realise their dream of helping create a just and equitable society.
A point of reference would be former Jadavpur University (JU) student Abhishek Mukherjee, who is said to have been killed in a gun battle with security forces near the Maoist-dominated Lalgarh area in West Midnapore district on Friday.
“Thousands of students from the city’s leading educational institutes joined the movement then. This time, their involvement is not insignificant,” a senior IPS officer told HT.
Intelligence agencies in the state have been noticing the new trend since local people in Nandigram rose against land acquisition for a proposed chemical hub in 2006.
Another former JU student and close associate of Mukherjee has also been “missing” and may have joined the rebel organisation. “This trend is alarming. Many student and youth activists in the city campaigning for Lalgarh have visited the jungles and undergone arms training,” said an intelligence officer involved with tracking Maoist activities.
Former Presidency College student Ramen (name changed) is now a regular in Lalgarh. “Initially, I got involved looking at the plight of people in Nandigram and Lalgarh on TV. Although I’m not exactly a Maoist, I believe in their cause and as a concerned citizen I’m working with them to help the downtrodden,” he told HT.
Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao said at news conference in JU on Feburary 26, “Our support is growing among students of Kolkata. Though these students don’t come from tribal areas, they understand the situation.”