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West Bengal Timeline 2015



March 11

Nearly four years after the CPI-Maoist leader Mallojula Koteswara Rao alias Kishenji was gunned down in an encounter in West Bengal's Junglemahal area, the Maoists have started trickling back into the forest-covered terrain of the State. According to inputs by both Central and State agencies, a number of top Maoist leaders from West Bengal and Jharkhand have been spotted making their way into villages. Security agencies have received inputs from ground-level sources that in the last few days, 'regional commanders' and leaders such as Bikash, Shyamal and Ranjit Pal have been spotted in the area. They have also been in touch with some known associates in villages along the West Bengal-Jharkhand border. Sources further said that a group of Maoists, under the leadership of Madan Mahato, 'commander' of the Belpahari region in Purulia, was spotted in the Ranibandh area of Bankura three weeks back. "Security agencies believe Mahato to be unwell. There is a high chance that he is hiding somewhere in the dense forest along the Bengal-Jharkhand border. Bikash and others must have contacted him to get a ground report," a senior officer said.

March 31

In the first ever group-acquittal since the TMC came to power in 2011, as many as 10 'political prisoners' were acquitted by a Ranaghat (Nadia District) District court in south Bengal. All the activists were allegedly working for the CPI-Maoist in Nadia District in south-central Bengal and had been languishing in various jails for nearly 10 years. They were charged under the Arms Act of 1959 and various sections of the IPC. However, none of the charges was established and thus all the activists were acquitted by the (Addl.) District and Sessions Judge, Rupanjana Chakravarty. Ajit Chakravarty, Pradeep Chatterjee, Lata Murmu, Gupi Das, Haidar Ali Chowdhury, Paresh Tirkey and Mongal Mondal were released.

May 11

Four persons including Chhatradhar Mahato, convener of the CPI Maoist-backed 'Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee', were convicted by a Court in West Medinipur District, for sedition and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 2008. "Other than Mahato, Sukhsanti Baske, Sambhu Soren and Sagun Murmu associated with the PSBJC have also been convicted by the Court. Two others - Raja Sarkhel and Prasoon Chattopadhyay - have been convicted of sedition but the Court absolved them of charges under the UAPA brought by the prosecution," said Mrinal Kanti Chowdhury, the counsel of the accused.

May 13

Jailed CPI-Maoist cadres in West Bengal wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, claiming that she will soon be "punished" for "disowning and convicting" Chhatradhar Mahato - "the face of Lalgarh movement and without whom the CM could not have succeeded in bringing change" in Bengal. On May 11, a Midnapore court had sentenced Mahato, the convener of PCPA, and five others to life imprisonment after holding them guilty under UAPA for their alleged links with Maoists. The letter, signed by several Maoists, has been written by IIT dropout Arnab Dam and senior leader Patit Paban Haldar. Both leaders are currently lodged at Presidency Jail. The letter stated: "The chief minister held several meetings with Mahato and asked him to spearhead the tribal movement. She promised that Mahato would be released when she would come into power. However, she disowned him after assuming office. She would be punished for this treachery… She alone did not bring change in Bengal. Many people like Chhatradhar Mahato were with her." However, the letter - written on white paper - is yet to reach Mamata and is lying with the superintendent of Presidency Jail.

May 17

The three leaders of the Provisional Central Committee, Marxist-Leninist or CPI-M-L (PCC) who were allegedly detained "illegally" by the Paschim Medinipur District Police had been charged with sedition. Additional Chief Judicial Magistrates' Court in Jhargram in Paschim Medinipur remanded Jiten Giri, Sunil Barik and Niranjan Bera to six days in Police custody. "Apart from sedition, Giri, Barik and Bera were also charged with criminal conspiracy," their counsel Ashini Mondal said. He also said that in the court, the Police alleged that on May 17 the three persons were spotted roaming around "suspiciously" in Lodhasuli area in the District.

May 25

Life was partially affected in parts of Purulia District and Jhargram sub-division of West Midnapore District in response to a 12 hour Jangalmahal bandh call given by CPI-Maoist and a radical ultra left group. The shutdown strike call was given demanding unconditional release of PCPA convener Chhatradhar Mahto and five others who were jailed on the charge of anti-State activities.

June 30

Only three days after State Police DGP G.M.P. Reddy said that there was nothing to worry about CPI-Maoist-activities in the Jangalmahal region of West Bengal, a report by the central intelligence department to the UMHA indicated several Maoist groups are operative in the area. The report is all the more alarming because Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had personally enquired about the Maoist activities there. The report has been mentioned that there are at least 10 groups - all from Jharkhand and Odisha - which are frequenting parts of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore and conducting meeting with the villagers and local youths. In the report, there is mention of Gopal Pande and Rahul who are making rounds in the Jangalmahal area regularly.

July 8

NIA submitted a supplementary chargesheet before the NIA Special Court at Kolkata summing up the investigation into a module of CPI-Maoist cadres based in Kolkata and Jharkhand. This module was active between 2010-12 and manufactured hand grenades for use against the state. The charge sheet has charged two Maoist cadres - arrested from the Watgunge area in Khidderpore by Kolkata Police STF on July 25 and 26 three years ago - Mohan Viswakarma and Arjun Ganjhu.

July 24

The UMHA alerted the West Bengal State Government of a possible strike by the CPI-Maoist. The CPI-Maoist has issued a notification stating, "Under the present political situation in West Bengal, the party's Eastern bureau has decided to reconstitute the state committee. The party has analyzed the political situation, our struggle and how to strengthen our organisation." Combing operations were beefed up after the outfit put up posters in Jangalmahal, in the Western part of the state. A Central intelligence report stated that the Maoist central committee had directed its West Bengal unit to choose 'comparatively soft targets'. The group has appointed Akash as the new 'state secretary' of the reconstituted 21-member committee, but according to its organisational structure, leaders, who are in jail have not been included on the committee.

July 27

Police arrested two cadres of the CPI-Maoist from Purulia District for putting up posters in favour of the CPI-Maoist. Purulia SP Rupesh Kumar said "We have arrested two suspected Maoists-Khori Hansda and Mutru Hansda-from their house at Khenkridi village under Balarampur Police Station in Purulia for putting up posters with threats. Some posters and banners in favour of CPI-Maoist have been seized from them."

"We had earlier arrested three suspected Maoists-Mahendra Hembram, Badyanath Soren and Ajit Hembram from Urma station area on July 27 and after interrogating them, we have made this arrest," he said. Some Maoist posters were found at Matha, Vuchundi and Tiger More area under Balarampur Police Station in Purulia and some Maoist banners were found in some places under Barikul Police Station area in Bankura District of West Bengal.

August 12

The MHA has warned the West Bengal government of possible attacks by the CPI-Maoist rebels in the run-up to the Independence Day and asked it to beef up security across the state. After the report from the Central intelligence agencies reached State Secretariat, Nabanna, state Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee and DGP G M P Reddy held a high-level meeting and directed senior Police officials to take adequate measures to combat the possible Maoist attacks. The IB report stated that at least 60 youth, including women from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand had joined the military wing of the Maoists and they had been divided into squads comprising 10 members. The IB report stated that the Maoists' first target was Belpahari and for the last one month their cadre could be seen entering the state from Jharkhand and secretly campaigning among the villagers.

August 20

In a six-page review report, the eastern bureau of the CPI-Maoist, has said it committed "mistakes" during the Lalgarh movement by killing people and removing their bodies covertly and said that it had wrongly believed that TMC would withdraw joint forces from Jangalmahal after coming to power in the State. The outfit said, "We had a belief that if the CPI-M is defeated, then the joint forces will be withdrawn and all political prisoners released, but we were wrong." Ruling TMC, however, dismissed the report as "propaganda". The Maoists' admission of mistakes came at a time when there are reports that the ultras were trying to stage a comeback in Jangalmahal (West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura Districts) after a hiatus of four years since the death of CPI-Maoist politburo member Kishenji in November, 2011. A senior CRPF officer said, "There has been a surge in their activities in the past six months. We have specific reports of their movements, both individually and in small groups, especially in Binpur, Lalgarh, and parts of Purulia."

September 23

Personnel of the bomb squad of the West Bengal CID have found a bag full with explosives from Falaknuma Express at Howrah railway station. Officials suspect that the bag has been transported from Secunderabad by the down Howrah-Secunderabad Falaknuma Express, according to preliminary reports. Unclaimed pipe like objects were recovered from a reserved compartment of the express train, which were found to be low intensity landmines.

Two hundred fifty youths from the 'Red Corridor' of West Bengal joined the Army and regular recruitment drives have now been started in the area to bring youngsters of CPI-Maoist-affected areas in the State into the mainstream.

August 25

Two CPI-Maoist 'supporters' were arrested on charges of extortion from Balarampur town in Purulia District. The two hailing from Belpahari in West Midnapore District came to Balarampur and were extorting money from the shopkeepers who complained to the Police. Police rushed to the area and arrested the duo.

Source:Compiled from news reports and are provisional.





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