India: An interview with a Maoist leader on events in West Bengal

Interview with Akash, West Bengal State Secretary of Communist Party of India (Maoist)

by Tusha Mittal, Tehelka

ON THE evening of 13 August, two significant events unfolded inside the forests of West Bengal. Weeks after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a mammoth development package for Junglemahal, the Maoist party initiated its own ‘parallel development’. The government did not allow it to proceed.

Up a rocky hilly road, in the jungles where West Bengal meets Jharkhand, Nilima Baske, 50, had a terrible fall; she can’t walk. The nearest primary health centre is too far. On 13 August, a ‘Calcutta doctor’ appeared to treat Baske with three injections and medicines. It was part of a mass health camp organised by the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), supported by the banned CPI(Maoist) party.
On 14 August, as doctor Siddhartha Gupta made his way to the second health camp, he was arrested by the West Bengal Police, detained for the night at Belpahari Police Station, and charged under Section 151 for “knowingly joining in an assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse”. He is out on bail. Momentarily, in its singular frame, the incident represents an ironic twist — the state and Maoists competing on who can deliver better development, both trying to woo, compelling the other into action. Continue reading