In the wake of Lalgarh
by SUJATO BHADRA
RIGHT now, the situation in Lalgarh is grave. The combined military offensive has got a nod from the central and state governments; it means we have to be worried about ghastly horror, concerned about more suffering and loss of lives. Since 18 June 2009, the entire area has been under siege by joint forces in the name of flushing out the Maoists. Perhaps, in post-independence India, it is unprecedented that the ‘affected areas’ have remained under Section 144 Cr.PC for such a long time without a break and that civil society organizations and individuals have been denied access to the area.
Allegations of brutal torture and destruction of houses and property are rampant. Many people have already died in firing by the joint forces. Almost 300 people have been arrested and implicated in false criminal cases; one activist has died in police custody; the police has registered 30 serious cases under sections of the IPC against Chatradhar Mahato alone. The nefarious intention of the government is clear: Mahato must not be freed even though he had been granted bail in a number of cases, as the material evidence produced by the police against him in court did not satisfy the magistrate. In one case, even the charge of sedition was dropped by the lower court for want of prima facie evidence.