CPI (Maoist) has opened a new front, from behind the bars, away from Junglemahal. With senior leaders lodged in jails, the party is not only spreading its views among the inmates, but also leading movements and agitations on various issues.
Since the past couple of years, a number of agitations have taken place inside the jails, including the central jails, where a large number of inmates even sat on indefinite hunger strikes.
According to jail sources, Maoists have formed various jail committees, which not only look after rights of prisoners, but also make them aware of the current political situation. Intelligence sources admit that Maoists have also initiated indoctrination classes for young under trials in some jails.
"It is their strategy to catch the administration on the wrong foot. They have been organising inmates behind the bars and prompting agitations. They are the brain behind most agitations, however frivolous for a cause it may be," said Ranvir Kumar, inspector general of jails.
"Last week, in Behrampur jail, a religious colour was given to agitations. Earlier in Krishnagar, the Maoist organised a hunger strike," said Kumar.
Several senior Maoist leaders, including the Politburo members, former state secretaries and state committee members, are lodged in different Bengal jails, including central jails such as Presidency, Alipur and Dumdum.
The inmates have been agitating over lack of basic amenities, like proper food and water, apart from agitations and hunger strikes demanding withdrawal of joint forces and release of political prisoners.
According to jail sources, Maoist leaders, most of whom are highly educated, have now become role models in the jails. Since they are aware of the jail code and laws, they are also lending a helping hand to common inmates, both under trials and convicts.
Leaders such as Chandi Sarkar (former state committee member), who is in Krishnanagar jail, and V Venkateshwara Rao alias Telegu Dipak (former state committee and military commission member), presently is lodged in Alipur central jail, have been organising the inmates for various protests and agitations.
Former Politburo members, former state committee secretaries and members like Himadri Sen Roy alias Somen, Sudip Chongdar alias Kanchan and Patit Paban Halder are behind the bars.
"Previously inmates used to fight, shout abuses at the authorities over their demands. They were not organised. Now they jointly give us petitions, deputations and observe hunger strikes over various issues. They are more organised these days under Maoist leadership behind the bars," said a senior jail officer in Presidency central jail.
Interestingly, even prisoners charged with anti-national activities are also showing solidarity to the Maoists on different issues, even relating to Junglemahal. A few months ago, a number of inmates accused for terrorist activities, in Presidency, Alipur and Dumdum central jails, officially supported the hunger strike held by the Maoists in demand for withdrawal of joint forces and release of political prisoners.
A spate of agitations broke out in Bengal jails recently, including in Krishnanagar where over 200 inmates sat on hunger strike on August 15 and four had to be shifted to a hospital as their condition grew critical. On October 10, over 1300 inmates of Berhampore jail initiated agitations over lack of basic amenities. In Midnapore jail, which houses people like Chattrdhar Mahato, inmates organise agitations frequently for various demands under the leadership of Maoist leaders.