West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s reply to home minister P Chidambaram’s letter on the state’s law and order situation appeared to be a feeble attempt at defending his party and government.
The contents of Bhattacharjee’s reply — distributed among mediapersons on Wednesday — failed to refute the allegation that armed CPM cadres were being sheltered at party camps in the three Maoist-dominated western districts.
He did not even mention CPM state secretary Biman Bose’s explanation that party supporters evicted from their homes by the Maoists had been accommodated in camps.
Instead, Bhattacharjee chose to accuse Chidambaram of partisan attitude, leaking of the letter to the media before it reached the state government, quoting incorrect figures on death in Maoist violence and use of the “nasty word Harmad”. Chidambaram had alleged, “There is evidence to show that Harmad camps are mostly located in CPM party offices and houses of local CPM cadres. It is a matter of grave concern that these cadres have been provided with firearms.”
The word stems from the Spanish word, Armada, which invaded British shores during Queen Elizabeth’s reign in July 1588. But in Bengal, Portuguese pirates, who plundered Bengal throughout the eighteenth century, were called Harmads.
It was first used in the modern sense to describe armed CPM cadres in Singur in 2007, when locals, led by the Trinamool Congress, resisted the setting up of the Tatas’ small car factory.
Bhattacharjee, however, reiterated his allegation about a Trinamool-Maoist nexus. “Trinamool Congress, which was earlier maintaining secret contacts with the Maoist leaders and outfits are now openly organising meetings with them.”