‘She didn't say a word on any specific programme for peace'

The Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC), which supported the rally at Lalgarh on Monday called by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, criticised on Wednesday of her silence on the “plight of the poor” in the Jangalmahal region and her “failure” to come up with any “specific programme” for the development of the region.

The leadership of the outfit said that though Ms. Banerjee had sent out a message for truce to the Maoists, she had failed to recognise the role the PSBJC could play in the peace process. It felt angered and let down because of this.

Speaking to The Hindu from the Lalgarh region, PSBJC secretary Manoj Mahato, said: “Ms. Banerjee came and went away but did not utter a single word about any specific programme to establish peace and resist the CPI(M) cadres…we had expected that she will speak about the women tortured by the security forces, and honour the family members of PSBJC martyrs like Lalmohan Tudu and Sidhu Soren.”

Neither did Ms. Banerjee make any demand for the release of the outfit's convener Chhatradhar Mahato nor for the distribution of land pattas to the tribal poor, he said.

“She said that she will give us whatever we want. But we do not want alms from anyone, we are fighting for our fundamental and democratic rights. Can she stop the tribal people from getting dispossessed of their land under the Land Acquisition Act and the Forest Rights Act? She spoke at length for the Maoists but not for a democratic organisation like ours,” he said.

Peeved at the outfit members being called Maoists by leaders of the Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party on the floor of Parliament, Mr. Mahato demanded that the leaders do a “reality check of the ground conditions” before making such statements.

“If these leaders are to be believed, then either continue to be exploited and tortured by the powers that be without raising your voice or be called a Maoist. They are raising questions why we were not arrested on the rally day... What is legal and illegal will become clear during the forthcoming Assembly elections,” he added.

The district Trinamool Congress leadership tried to underplay the PSBJC's reaction, saying that Ms. Banerjee's appeal for restoring peace was for everyone.