Four people including two CPI(ML) leaders are hostages to Maoists in Garhwa, while the police is implicating the CPI(ML) in the blasts, and torturing its local village activists for \\\’conspiring\\\’ with Maoists.
On 21 January 2012, an agitation by local villagers demanding the shifting of the proposed site of a health centre was being led by elected mukhiya and CPI(ML) activist Ramdas Minz, at Barga village in Bhandaria block in Garhwa district. The police arrested Comrade Ramdas Minz during the agitation, but the protest continued, blockading the road with the demand that the Bhandaria BDO meet them and address their grievance.
Comrade Sushma Mehta, elected Zila Parishad Chairperson and well-known local leader of the CPI(ML) was coming from Garhwa by car to the protest site, along with CPI(ML)’s Jharkhand State Committee member Comrade Akhtar Ansari.
A land mine blast by Maoists in the same area claimed the lives of several policemen, though the BDO’s car, apparently on the way to meet the agitating villagers, passed safely. When Comrade Sushma’s vehicle approached the area, the Maoists stopped the car and snatched the gun from Comrade Sushma’s descriptionguard. Comrade Sushma, her descriptionguard Sunesh Ram, CPI(ML) State Committee member Comrade Akhtar Ansari, and the driver of the car, Ahmed, were abducted by the Maoists.
Alarmingly, instead of making efforts to rescue the abducted CPI(ML) leaders and others, the Jharkhand police are falsely implicating the CPI(ML) in the landmine blast, alleging that the roadblock and protest were being held by the party as a ploy to ‘lure’ the policemen into the Maoist trap. Several of our activists: Comrade Ramdas Minz, elected mukhiya from the CPI(ML), Fida Husain, Annu Lakra, Maqsud Ansari and Budlal Kerketta – who had been protesting at Bargad with the demand that the site of a health centre be decided by villagers rather than at the behest of contractors – are being tortured and beaten up in custody in the name of \\\’interrogations\\\’ to establish \\\’links\\\’ with Maoists.
The DGP of Jharkhand in a press conferennce, refused to acknowledge that Sushma Mehta and other CPI(ML) leaders have been abducted!
The police and local administration have for some time now, launched an all-out drive to falsely implicate the CPI(ML) leaders and discredit the party, to crush the growing assertion of the party in Garhwa.
The Maoists are known for their attacks on democratic activists and leaders – prominent instances in Jharkhand include the killing of Comrade Mahendra Singh in Bagodar and social activist Niyamat Ansari in Garhwa.
The Maoists have owned up the abduction of Sushma Mehta, Akhtar Ansari, and two others (the driver and guard). They have demanded removal of a police picket and an end to Green Hunt operations in exchange for release of the hostages. Police is doing nothing to free them, but is persisting in peddling the notion that Sushma along with the CPI(ML) comrades of Bargad village conspired with Maoists to \\\’trap\\\’ the police. The party has a Garhwa bandh and other protests launched against the repression and the abductions.
Garhwa is still very much in a feudal grip. Local MLAs – Garhwa MLA Girinath Singh of RJD and Bhawnathpur MLA Anant Prasad Deo of Congress are of \\\’royal\\\’ families. These power centres deeply resent the growing assertion of the rural poor with the CPI(ML). There have been powerful struggles for ration cards, against corruption in welfare schemes, for workers\\\’ minimum wages and rights.
Sushma Mehta was elected Zila Parishad chairperson backed by such struggles.
Recently there was a very well-attended Parivartan Rally of the CPI(ML) in Garhwa on Dec 14 2011.
Why the State Needs to Discredit and Crush the CPI(ML)
The CPI(ML) has just concluded an intensive mass campaign and padyatra that covered villages all over Giridih district, holding mass meeting with villagers and highlighting concerns of the rural poor – employment, food security, wages and dignity. On January 16 this year, there was a huge rally at Bagodar to mark the martyrdom day of Comrade Mahendra Singh, in which people from all over the state attended.
Not long ago, in Garhwa, the police raided the home of one of our activists, Sita Paswan, taking away all sorts of personal belongings including women\\\’s jewellery. They did not submit seizure documents for weeks. But they claimed that fake currency had been found, indicating that CPI(ML) leaders like Paswan, Tahir Ansari, Akhtar Ansari etc had links with \\\’ISI\\\’, Pakistan and Nepal.
What Maoist Blasts and Abductions End Up Doing
And Maoist actions like the blasts are inevitably used by the state as a pretext to unleash repression on activists of open mass struggles such as the ones mentioned above. The abductions of mass leaders, similarly, are extremely troubling and do untold damage, in terms of making it all the more deterring and daunting for ordinary people, especially women, to come forward actively in mass politics challenging the state.