K N Ramachandran, the general secretary of the Naxalite outfit CPI(ML) (Red Star) – which is spearheading the agitation against a power grid at Bhangar in West Bengal – has gone missing after landing at Kolkata station in the city on Sunday evening. In a statement issued on Monday, the outfit has blamed the state administration for his disappearance.
“Com K N Ramachandran reached Kolkata railway station by around 5 pm on January 22. He is missing since then. All attempts to contact comrade K N Ramachandran over his mobile phone went in vain. The comrade travelled from Lucknow to Kolkata to declare solidarity with the people and the CPI (ML) Red Star comrades who are resisting installation of a power grid by Mamata Government at Bhangar,” the central committee of the outfit stated in the statement.
The disappearance holds significance in the wake of recent news that the administration has got arrest warrants issued against 36 persons, including the leaders of the Naxalite outfit, in seven cases related to violence at Bhangar, lodged at Kashipore police station in South 24-Parganas district. Ramachandran was scheduled to attend a rally at Bhangar on Monday.
“We suspect the involvement of Mamata’s notorious Special Police in the comrade’s disappearance. We demand the Mamata government to unconditionally produce Com. K N Ramachandran immediately,” the statement added.
On Monday, while the leaders of the outfit remained busy over the disappearance of Ramachandran, villagers continued with the blockade of the area for the seventh consecutive day. The blockade had started on January 16 after the CID picked up some of the local leaders of the movement and clashes following police action the next day claimed two lives.
CPI(ML)(Red Star), which contests elections, has presence in Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal. The septuagenarian Ramachandran hails from Kerala. Three of its leaders, politburo members Pradip Singh Thakur and Alik Chakraborty and central committee member Sharmishtha Choudhury are leading the agitation at Bhangar that has become a major embarrassment and headache for the Mamata Banerjee government.
Talking to HT, Thakur, who is also the West Bengal secretary of the outfit, said that they had lodged a complaint at the city police headquarters at Lalbazar on Sunday night.
“We lodged another complaint at Bidhan Nagar police station on Monday. The police have so far failed to provide us with any information. Over the past 24 hours, his phones remained switched off for some time and remained unanswered for the rest of the time,” Thakur said.
The outfit is planning to hold a demonstration at College Square in the city on Tuesday. They are also planning to file a habeas corpus at some court in the city.