June 20, 2009. The Telegraph
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The tribal body that started the seven-month- old Lalgarh agitation with Maoist backing today threatened a “fight to death” in the face of the government offensive.
“We were born here, we are agitating here and we will die here,” said Chhatradhar Mahato, chief of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities [PCPA].
“The barricades will continue. The more they are forcibly removed, the deeper will be the (public) anger at the police and support for us.”
Mahato, speaking to The Telegraph at Barapelia, 5km north of Lalgarh town, said the movement had begun because of the “government’s long neglect of the tribal people, who have been surviving on ant eggs for far too long”.
“Our movement is for the development of the people. They (the government) cannot gain people’s confidence by using force,” Mahato, the secretary of the committee, added.
He expressed surprise that the state government had called in paramilitary and additional police forces in response to the destruction of a house being built by Anuj Pandey, the CPM’s Binpur zonal committee secretary.
“Yet no one is asking how this leader could build such a palatial mansion,” he said.
Mahato alleged that Pandey’s brother Dalim, Lalgarh CPM local committee leader, had amassed huge wealth. “Whenever any land transaction took place in the region, he would take a commission. Why were the police brought in to protect these tainted brothers?”
The committee [PCPA] secretary wondered why no action was taken when CPM offices were burnt in Khejuri and the police boycotted at the behest of Trinamul Congress MP Subhendu Adhikari. “The same government is now using central forces against us….”
Committee president Lalmohan Tudu, who too was at Barapelia, said everyone in the region supported the movement. “The battle has entered the heart of Lalgarh. The forces will now see what they are up against.”
Singrai Baskey, resident of Kantapahari, 7km north of Lalgarh town, said: “We are with the movement. We have realised how much this movement means to us now that the entire nation has its eyes fixed on Lalgarh.”