Maoists fill welfare

আজ হিউম্যানিস্টস এসোসিইয়েশানের ১৮তম জন্ম-বার্ষিকীতে সকালেই একটি খুশির খবর পেলাম—১০ সেপ্টেম্বরের টেলিগ্রাফ পত্রিকায় যেটা কলকাতার বাইরের পত্রিকার প্রথম পৃষ্ঠায় ছবিসহ দেওয়া হয়েছে।নিচে দেওয়া হল।

যৌথবাহিনীর নিষ্ক্রিয়তার সুযোগে ‘মাওবাদী’রা সমাজসেবায় সক্রিয় ভূমিকা পালন করছে।

উদাহরণস্বরূপ তিন-টি ঘটনা দেওয়া হয়েছে—স্বাস্থ্যকেন্দ্র, প্রাথমিক স্কূল ও কংসাবতী নদিবাঁধ।

ধন্যবাদ টেলিগ্রাফ পত্রিকা কে।

Maoists fill welfare shoes in lull

- medical camp to tuitions in jungle mahal


The compounder (face blurred) treats patients at the health centre set up by Maoists in West Midnapore’s Aguibani

Scene I: A small, one-room building with an asbestos roof in the middle of a forest in West Midnapore’s Jungle Mahal. Inside, a man sits at a table with a stethoscope slung across his neck. The room is packed with people, mainly women and children, and the man examines them. He writes out prescriptions and hands over medicines, all for free.

Scene II: Two rooms of the primary school in Balarampur, near West Midnapore’s Binpur, are packed with students sitting on the floor. Two teachers are busy writing out exercises on the blackboard. They are giving “private tuition” to the students from nearby villages to help them learn their lessons well. All for free.

Scene III: Several men are working to build an embankment in Bandarbani village, on the banks of the Kangshabati, in the same district. Every year, during monsoon, the waters of the overflowing river rush in and flood the village. The embankment will prevent that from happening this year.

These are not vignettes of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s promised development work being played out in Jungle Mahal. These are “development programmes” that have been launched by Maoists in one of the most backward regions of West Midnapore.

With police held back from conducting operations against them, the Maoists have launched a drive to carry out development work in an attempt to ensure that the new government does not wean away the poor villagers with its promise to improve their lot.

A Maoist cadre accompanying this reporter proudly showed how the rebels are trying to provide basic welfare measures.

“We have achieved what Mamata Banerjee has not been able to do in the past three months in Jungle Mahal, thanks to the respite we have been having from the police operations against us,” the cadre said. “These villagers have realised that the government, even the new one, would not be able to do what we have done for them. If the Trinamul government thinks that they can wean the villagers away from us, it is totally mistaken.”

He pointed out that during the last two years of the Left Front rule, the Maoists had been on the run because of “incessant” police raids. But the lull in the last few months had given them an opportunity to resume their activities again, setting up health centres, taking tuition classes and building embankments to prevent the flooding.

The first stop for this reporter was a “primary health centre” in Aguibani village, in the heart of a dense jungle a few kilometers from Gopiballabpur. The Maoists had recently set up this one room, with an asbestos roof, to provide health care to the villagers.

Inside the crowded room, sitting on a rickety chair, was a man with a stethoscope around his neck. But he was not a doctor. He was a doctor’s assistant, or “compounder”, who had apparently picked up the basics during his 30 years in the profession.

“Two MBBS doctors visit this health centre twice a week,” the cadre explained. “In the interim, the compounder takes care of the basic needs of the patients here.”

The doctor’s assistant said the villagers were provided with medicines free of cost. “We even give them injections,” he said. But he refused to divulge how they get the medicines.

A local youth, who refused to identify himself, said that this health centre provided assistance to nearly 12,000 villagers from the surrounding villages. “If anyone wants to donate a few rupees, we take it because it helps us buy medicines.”

Kalpana Mahato, a patient from a nearby village, said she came here because the nearest government health centre was about 15km away while the Jhargram hospital was about 40km away. “It is not possible for a sick person to walk such a long distance,” she said.

The Maoists are fanning the grievances of the villagers about the lack of basic amenities in this backward region by repeatedly saying that even the new government would not keep its promises about bringing development.

The Maoist cadre accompanying this reporter said: “Before the elections, she had promised that joint forces would be withdrawn from here and all innocent people in jail would be released. But she has not kept her word.”

He said the Maoists had set up about 20 such health care centres in their strongholds in the area, adding that the money for this came from the “levy” imposed on the rich.

Similar to the health centres, the Maoists have been setting up “tuition centres” here. Primary schools in Maoist strongholds are converted into such centres after classes and the educated among the rebels give tuition for free.

Sukhen Soren, a student attending the tuition at the Balarampur primary school, said: “My father is illiterate and he cannot help with my studies and my teacher at school is always in a hurry. So I attend the tuition here.”

Like the health centres, there are several such “tuition centres” spread across Jungle Mahal.

The Maoists have also organised villagers to construct embankments, supervising their work, to save the villages from flooding, something the villagers said that the government has not done in so many years.

The police admitted they are in a dilemma. First, they have been told to exercise restraint. Second, in the absence of any development in the area, if they crack down on these centres, it will make the government unpopular.

“We are aware of what is happening and have kept Writers’ Buildings informed,” an officer said.

Courtesy: The Telegraph, September 10 , 2011


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