The State administration that has confirmed information of Chhatradhar Mahato, convener of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC), having “connections” with the Maoists, does not see anything wrong in the manner in which he was arrested from near Lalgarh in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district. Policemen posing as journalists arrested him on September 26.
“Yes,” was State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen’s reply to questions from journalists here on Tuesday whether the State administration was sure that Mr. Mahato had links with the Maoists.
Mr. Mahato has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
On whether or not it was ethical for policemen to pose as journalists to arrest the PSBJC leader, Mr Sen said he was aware of such questions being raised in certain quarters. “But I am not one with them,” he said of those disapproving the way the arrests were made.
The International Federation of Journalists reportedly said in a statement that it was “deeply disturbed” by the implications of the operation. Some human rights activists have also expressed their resentment.
Responding to apprehensions of journalists that the operation could affect their functioning while reporting on events at Lalgarh, Mr. Sen said: “It might be difficult for a few days after which all will be well and it will no longer be difficult to collect information… Telephonic interviews can always continue.”
Asked why Mr. Mahato, who came to the city nearly three months ago, had not been arrested earlier, Mr. Sen said the situation “three months ago is not the one that exists now. It is a changing situation. Chhatradhar Mahato [his position] has evolved.” Investigations are in progress and “it will have to be determined who else has connections with the Maoists. They will have to be arrested.”
Regarding the nationwide call for a bandh by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), on October 3, in protest against Mr. Mahato’s arrest, Mr. Sen said certain pockets could be affected “but we will have to make the necessary arrangements to ensure that there is no clash between those supporting and opposing the bandh.”