Fear stalks scores of villagers caught in the line of fire

 Notwithstanding the gripping tension, some people who have stayed put in the villages that are otherwise deserted, recounted years of tyranny and exploitation by the local CPM leaders whose words were the “last law” in Lalgarh.

In a vast swathe of poverty and deprivation dotted region, one is struck at the splendour of the lone two-storied marble-finish house of local CPM leader Anuj Pandey. “Pandey’s word ran supreme in most of the villages across Lalgarh and nothing can be done without his prior permission,” said Dulal Mahato,who is in his late 60s.

“From electricity to applying for 100 days’ work or facilities under the special tribal fund of the Centre, nothing can be obtained without his consent and this always comes at a cost,you know," Mahato told Deccan Herald here.

Villagers were also too familiar with Pandey, “the extortionist.” While his meteoric rise from just a local leader to a zonal committee member and subsequent proximity to CPM West Midnapore district secretary Deepak Sarkar was phenomenal, the party always depended on him for funds during any occasion.

“For all CPM rallies, functions and district-level programmes, we are forced to donate as per the demand of Pandey’s henchmen,” claimed Sasadhar Murmu, who has been guarding the family hut alone at Pirakata.

“And over and above this, we had to pay monthly subscription for the party fund. A special donation is also levied if one sets up a tea stall or constructs a house.” Pandey who could not clear the Class 12 examination, ran the local panchayat at Dharampur and had the last word on all expenses; he made it clear to tribals that he did not tolerate any protest. “We’d once tolerated a lot and now, it’s time for him to face our wrath,” Murmu’s eyes blazed as he pointed at the debris of Pandey’s “palatial” house that was torched and razed hundreds of agitating tribals last week.

How Pandey organised money to construct a palatial house in the land of poverty is anybody’s guess.

Interestingly, Anuj is not alone; he was ably assisted by others, including CPM’s Belatikri local committee secretary Chandi Karan. Naturally, his house too did not escape the tribals’ fury and was vandalised and set ablaze.

“After the police operation, will the state government order any probe on how crores of money allotted under various Central schemes for tribal welfare through panchayats simply vanished,” asked Murmu.

Comments (+)