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Lalgarh: APDR Fact-finding report on Netai Incident

Jan 12, 2011--A six member team from APDR reached Netai village of Lalgarh at 3 PM on 08th January, 2011 to investigate the incident of firing on unarmed villagers by Harmad Bahini on 7th January at village Netai of Lalgarh block, West Midnapur, West Bengal.

Villagers told the team that one month ago the camp of CPI(M) formed at the house of the local CPI(M) leader, Rathin Dandapat. Abani Singh and Sovon Mondal, CPI(M) leaders of the same village, had told the villagers that the camp had been made to establish peace in the area. Gokul Maity of this village informed us that instead of establishing peace some trouble had been started at the village. Villagers were forced to cook and wash clothes for the camp. About 20 to 25 armed persons were at the camp according to the villager Pradip Roy. One man was forced to make 40 to 50 chapattis in one day. The members of the camp shouted at villagers for any mistakes in cooking, like more salt or better taste. One day they forced, at gun point, the villagers to participate in the rally of CPI(M). The non armed villagers were compelled to guard the armed men of the camp.

Unwillingly they were obeying all orders from the camp.

The agricultural work of the villagers was hampered for their service at the camp and also the dignity of the villagers was not protected by the members of the camp. After establishing the camp at the village, the CRPF did not patrol the village a single day. The CRPF left the fortunes of the village in the hands of the Harmad camp. Other camps of Harmad bahini of CPI(M) are situated at Birkar, Belatikari and Sijua within 3 to 4 km from the camp of Netai. The villagers were living under the fear of the Harmad Bahini.

Finally, four days before the incident, the leaders of the camp announced mandate for arms training to the villagers of 18 to 35 years old. It was too much for the villagers. One day the villagers gathered to take arms training in the field. After that, on 6th January, the villagers unanimously decided that it was not possible to take arms training. On 7th January around 2 thousand villagers out of four thousand population, gathered before the camp at 8 AM. The villagers and the camp members held discussions at the Bat-tala Chalk which is 20 to 25 meter away from the camp or the house of Rathin Dandapat. They told the leaders of the camp that villagers were not willing to take arms training. After discussion of 15 to 20 minutes the leaders said that they required the consent of the higher party committee in this matter.

In the name of consent of higher committee they called the armed forces from the other camp. After few minutes, from south of the village some armed men entered the village and firing started. Some of the villagers said that first firing started from the roof of the Rathin Dandapat. There is another version that the armed men of the outside camp started the firing first. Phulmani Maity and Swaraswati Maity, injured in the firing, and fell to the ground at once. Some other persons fell on the ground, unconscious, after bullet injuries. Some men were running away with injuries. At the time of firing, bullets were coming like rain. According to the villagers 30 to 40 round bullets were fired at a time. Then the mob dispersed from the Bat-tala Chalk. The dead bodies were lying at 30 to 40 meter distance from the house of Rathin Dandapat. The distance of the dead bodies prove that the house of CPI(M) leader was not gheraoed by the villagers. The firing continued for one and half hours. The armed man went away with firing at the side of Kanshi river.

Villagers gave the name of the armed persons who were engaged in the firing of 7th January at Nitai. Such as Abani Singh, Sovon Mondal, Joydeep Giri, Asani Chalok, Tapan Dey, Phulora Mondol, Nabagopal Chai. They also said that the Harmad did not allow ambulance for injured persons.

The local police force was informed by the villagers at 8 pm before gathering in front of the camp. After firing Tanmoy Roy and Sibsankar Roy again informed the in-charge of Lalgarh Thana. After four hours CRPF entered the village. Then CRPF butted with their bayonets and terrorized the villagers. Salil Pal of Natai is still lying in the bed (Bed No -32 of Surgical Ward) of Midnapur Sadar Hospital due to the injury by CRPF. Sandip Mondal was also injured by the CRPF.

The Fact finding team mads the observation that Lalgarh thana is situated at the distance of 2.5 to 3 Km from the place of incident. The police force came to the village after 6 hours of the incident. Harmad bahini fired at the villagers for a long time and the police did not take any initiative to resist the incident from nearby thana. The police gave enough time to the armed force to get away from the place of the incident. Police did not help to the injured person. The villagers hospitalized the injured persons alone. So it proved that the Harmad Bahini and police were jointly beside the incident of 7th January. The team now reached the conclusion that the firing of the 7th January by Harmad Bahini of CPI(M) occurred with the alliance of police force and CRPF. So it can be seen as a state sponsored repression and terrorism.

List of dead persons

1. Phulmani maity, 2. Swaraswati Gharai, 3. Samananda Gharai, 4. Dheren Sen, 5. Dhrubaprasad Ghoshwami, 6. Arup Parta, 7. Sourav Gharai.

Injured Persons who are still admitted in the hospital

i. Gouri Das , Farmer, 65Yr. - Bullet injury at the right of the chest
ii. Dilip Sen , Farmer, bullet injury at left eye and right hand
iii. Arati Mondal, 52yrs, - bullet injury at belly
iv. Geeta Adak, - Bullet injury at belly
v. Saktipada Singh - Bullet injury at right side of the chest
vi. Tapas Mondal - Bullet injury at left leg
vii. Nayan Sen, - bullet at left leg
viii. Avarani Mondal, - bullet at shoulder
ix. Ganesh Adak, bullet at chest
x. Hansha Roy , Injured
xi. Taruni Ghata , Injured
xii. Naba Ghata, injured
xiii. Ashim Roy, injured
xiv. Lhakhan Sen, Madhu Jana
xv. Salil Pal, injured by CRPF

Fact finding team members of APDR

1 Rangta Munshi - Assistant Secretary
2 Prasanta Haldar - Secretariate Member
3 Joy Gopal Dey - Secretariat Member
4 Sandip Saha - Photographer of APDR
5 Babu Da - Member
6 One other member of APDR

Prasanta Halder,
Association for Protection of Democratic Rights
18 No. Madan Baral Lane
Kolkata - 700012