“My son was killed by police while he was asleep… I won’t accept the body” fumes the aggrieved father of Sidhu Soren

News published at Anandabazar Patrika, 28 July 2010

Click here to read the news in Bengali.

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Abhijit Chakraborty from Karkata, Ramgarh.
Anandabazar Patrika, 28 July, 2010

The “fight” of his son is all over. The fight, however, isn’t over as yet. Bhuto Baskey (more than 60 years old) alias Jamadar Baskey, the father of Sidhu Soren, is determined to take up bow and arrow himself and keep on the battle of his son.

On Tuesday (26/7/2010) morning, sitting on the dusty foreyard of his hut in the Karkata village of Ramgarh, this old man thunders…” Police killed my son when he was sleeping”. He even declines to collect the corpse of his son.

A day back, he heard through a neighbor’s radio about the news of six encounter deaths by the joint forces in Metala’s forest. One of those six killed was his second son Bhuta, also known by the name Bhogan in his family. The message to his house was routed through the police-“It is presumed that your son is amongst those killed in Metla. Come over to Midnapur and do the identification.” On Tuesday, a similar request was again made from the police. Jamadar however, remains adamant on his stand and refuses to comply.

“The government never did any good work in the Jangalmahal area. Instead, we have to face inexorable torture by the police and CPI (M) for mere survival. My son was fighting for the well-being of all of us. He didn’t do anything unfair. He used to stay elsewhere under the apprehension of getting killed by the police and CPI (M) workers. His such fear turned true and he was exterminated by the police and that too when he was asleep. Now, they want to hand me over his corpse. Why should I accept it?” questions the robust elderly man. He admits to have consumed some local liquor (haria) to absorb the news of his son’s death. His grief however can’t cover the rage, that’s so clear and glaring through his eyes. Laxmimani Baskey, the mother of Sidhu Soren, too can’t control her tears. There had been no cooking at their house since Monday. She explodes the moment someone comments that her son has killed many. “We don’t believe our son was into any wrong doings. He fought for the people of Jangalmahal.” Nostalgia grips Jamadar…”This second of mine was different right from his childhood. He always received more attention than my other children. I used to carry him on my shoulders and feed him with local oysters from the canal…visit the Goaltore market lugging him on the back. He managed to study till Class IX. He left the house since then…right from his early days, he was rebellious and protested against anything unjust.”

In the year 2003, Bhuta left his house and got associated with the Maoist rebels. He wasn’t in contact since then. Again, during the Lalgarh movement in the later period of 2008, he was seen in rallies organized by the Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA). It was in one of such rallies that the father met his son again. By that time, his son was no more Bhuto Baskey. He was then Sidhu Soren. His such change of name was essential to conceal his Maoist identity. He didn’t agree to return home in spite of recurring persuasion by all his family members. But he did gift a saree to his mother and a lighter to his father.

To reach the house of Sidhu, one has to move from Kadashol of Goaltore towards Ramgarh. After crossing Mahultala, a right turn is needed. Then comes a broken, soiled road, canal and field. Walking through the field takes one to Kadashore, and that is where Sidhu’s house is located. The road in front of his house is cut off. Though in possession of four bigha land, they can harvest only once during the monsoon. The poverty is painstaking. Jamadar, even at this age, works as a daily paid laborer. Same is with Laxmimani, who too helps her family doing odd jobs. Out of four brothers, Podo still studies in school. Another brother named Lilu, works in Jhargram as an electrical mechanic. Other brothers, named Gopi and Sagen are involved in agriculture. Sagen is afraid even to speak, for fear of getting arrested and heckled by the police.

Jamadar, however, gives a damn to such fear. “The government never did any good work for us. We can’t even harvest twice in a year for lack of irrigation facility. Did anyone ever try to find out how we actually sustain? My son fought for all of us. CPI (M) cadres had bullied me many a times that they will slaughter my son, the moment they find him. Now, he had been killed, the cadres of CPI (M) will again enter the village and bang us”, says Jamadar.

“To survive, now I will resort to bow & arrow”…rumbles gritty Jamadar with a tight jaw.

Courtesy: Anandabazar Patrika

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