Raktima Bose

Threats from Maoists have forced enumerators to abort the task

PSBJC has issued the diktat against carrying out census operations in the region

‘They have even burnt the papers and documents carried by the enumerators'

KOLKATA: The West Bengal Government has sought a time extension from the Centre for completing the task of census operations in six blocks in the State's Paschim Medinipur district as constant threats from the Maoists in the region had forced the enumerators to abort the task halfway.

The Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) had issued the diktat against carrying out census operations in the region citing alleged atrocities perpetrated by security forces on villagers as reason for their protest.

The PSBJC had even threatened the enumerators with dire consequences if they dared to venture into the villages for data collection.

“We had received reports of several incidents where enumerators were directly threatened and not allowed to enter the villages. They had even burnt the papers and documents carried by the enumerators,” District Magistrate Narayan Swarup Nigam told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The six blocks of Binpur I and II, Goaltore, Salboni, Jhargram and Medinipur Sadar were the worst-affected since the rebels have a strong base in these areas and data collection there could not be completed by May 15 that was supposed to be the last date for the first phase of census operations in the State.

West Bengal Directorate of Census Operations director Dipak Ghosh pointed out that though the enumerators received positive response from the villagers initially, it stopped altogether following the massacre of 76 CRPF jawans in Dantewada on April 6.

“Only 50 per cent of the job could be finished in those six blocks. Our enumerators are scared to visit the remote villages,” Mr. Ghosh said.

Saying that the State Government has written to the Centre for an extension so that the operations can be finished, Mr. Ghosh said the district administration, along with the State Census Directorate, is trying to launch an awareness campaign in the affected areas.

Mr. Nigam said the district administration is emphasising on “radio campaigning” as well as distribution of leaflet amongst villagers to make them aware of the necessity of enrolling their details in the census list.

“If their names and details are not listed, it will be they who will bear the bruntIt is a completely anti-people stance of the Maoists. We have to convince the people and urge them to cooperate with us,” he added.