Sanhati Statement, February 24, 2010
We express our profound shock, grief and feeling of outrage at the cold-blooded murder by the CRPF of Lalmohan Tudu, the president of the Pulishi Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (Peoples’ Committee against Police Atrocities), at Narcha village near Kantapahari in Lalgarh, during the night of 22nd February. There is no language that can suitably condemn this heinous crime of the murder of a leader of a mass movement. Lalmohan Tudu’s murder is just the latest in the series of murders, rapes and arrests of adivasi activists and supporters of the PCPA by the state and central police forces that has been going on in the Lalgarh area for the past six months.
Lalmohan Tudu was staying away from his home ever since the combined state and central paramilitary forces invaded Lalgarh, just as most males in the villages throughout Lalgarh are, as he ran the risk of arrest by the combined forces. On 22nd February he had returned home to meet his younger daughter who was going to appear in the state boards examination scheduled to start on 23rd February. At around 11 pm, he and another couple, Yubaraj Murmu and Suchitra Murmu, who were staying with his family, were called out by the CRPF and shot dead in cold blood. His body was found a little distance behind his house. The bodies of the others have not been found yet.
The police and the CRPF have presented constantly changing versions of the event, attempting to prove that Lalmohan Tudu was a dreaded Maoist leader killed while he was perpetrating some crime! While they initially claimed that he was killed in an exchange of fire while trying to attack the fortress-like Kantapahari CRPF camp together with a group of Maoist cadres, they later changed the version and have said that he was killed when a Maoist squad, to which he belonged, was apprehended by a CRPF raiding party. These versions are downright lies. All evidence at the site where his dead body was found (shown on local television channels) and eye witness accounts tell that he was killed near his house and his body was dragged into the paddy fields nearby. This incident clearly shows that the government has taken up the policy of individually annihilating the leaders of a mass movement of adivasis.
Lalmohan Tudu was no military strategist or ideologue of the Maoists, nor did he have connections with any political party. He was a very popular and highly regarded person, who had been elected as the president of the PCPA in a mass meeting at Dalilpur Chowk when the Lalgarh movement against state atrocities started. Many people who have visited Lalgarh in the course of the last one year remember him as a quiet elderly person, with great organizational abilities and an eye for the care and comfort of the various people visiting Lalgarh to express solidarity with the adivasis.
With his murder, the government has clearly sent out a signal that it will crush all forms of dissent by annihilating mass leaders. On one hand, the home minister is offering to talk to the Maoists, on the other his paramilitary forces are liquidating leaders of mass resistance movements. This cynical, two-faced policy is sure to drown the entire country into a vicious cycle of violence.
We vehemently condemn the murder of Sri Lalmohan Tudu as a blatant act of state terror and appeal to all democratic-minded people to join us in condemning this heinous act and demanding the immediate withdrawal of the paramilitary forces from Lalgarh.
We also demand that the government should constitute a judicial probe into this killing and those who are found guilty of planning and executing the heinous act should be adequately punished. Moreover, we demand that the state law enforcement agencies should strictly adhere to legal methods of countering any transgressions of law and any official/unofficial counter-insurgency policy of “shoot to kill” should be immediately stopped.