Chatradhar Mahato, 45, spokesman of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), who is now lodged in Midnapore Central Jail and facing trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, will contest the Assembly elections as an Independent candidate from Jhargram constituency.
Additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM) Sk Mohammad Reza sanctioned Mahato’s plea in the Jhargram sub-divisional court on Wednesday.
Jhargram, which encompasses most Maoist hotspots, such as Lalgarh, Ramgarh, Kantapahari, Manikpara and Sapdhara, will go to the polls in the last phase in Bengal on May10.
“He’s at liberty to contest the Assembly elections if he follows the jail rules and other regulations. The court approved the petition made by Chhatradhar Mahato on Wednesday,” Koushik Sinha, Mahato’s lawyer, told HT.
“Any undertrial can contest, provided his name is in the electoral rolls. But one can’t contest if he’s convicted,” said NK Sahana, additional chief electoral officer, West Bengal.
Mahato, one of the most prominent faces to campaign for tribal rights and the Maoist struggle in West Bengal, is facing trial under various charges, including some under the UA(P)A. Amar Basu, incumbent MLA from Jhargram constituency is the Left Front candidate, while Sukumar Hansda is the Trinamool nominee. Mahato, who enjoys a much higher profile than either, may upset the electoral arithmetic of both.
A resident of Amalia village in Lalgarh, which falls in the Jhargram Assembly constituency, Mahato was arrested in October 2009.
There are many cases against him, including murders, conspiracy of murder, sedition, attempt to murder and also under the provisions of the Arms Act. He will contest on behalf of ‘Santras, Durniti, Samrajyabadi Agrasan Birodhi Mancha’ (Platform against terror, corruption and imperialist aggression).