Statement by Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, 26 February 2010.
People’s Union for Democratic Rights strongly condemns the cold blooded murder of Lalmohan Tudu, leader of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities by the Central Reserve Paramilitary Forces on February 23, 2010 at Kantapahari near Lalgarh. It has been reported that Lalmohan Tudu was killed in an ‘encounter’ along with his relatives Yuvraj and Suchitra. The IG CRPF, Nageshwar Rao condoned the killing claiming that they were Maoists killed in exchange of fire. But other accounts claim that as he was at his house to meet his younger daughter, CRPF personnel called him out along with his relatives and shot them dead in front of his wife, daughter and mother. His body was then dragged to the nearby fields.
It has been extensively reported that Lalmohan Tudu was amongst top leaders of PCAPA and at the forefront of the adivasi movement in Lalgarh. Killing of Tudu reflects a desperate attempt by the government to ‘sanitise’, suppress and eliminate all the dissenting voices. A patterned and esoteric account of ‘encounter’ narrated by the police and the security forces hardly gives any credence to such stories. We believe that killing of Tudu and his two relative are part of the policy to annihilate leading members of the PCPA as well as CPI (Maoists) and instantiates blatant violation of fundamental rights as enshrined in the Indian Constitution as well as the procedures established by law. PUDR unequivocally condemns such cowardly acts and demands that a case under section 307 of the IPC be registered against the erring officers pending an independent inquiry to ascertain the facts and circumstances leading to death of Lalmohan Tudu and his relatives. PUDR has repeatedly pointed to Government of India’s propensity to conduct wars against its own people. Therefore, PUDR wishes to point out that if the Government is unwilling to engage in civilized forms of engagement, namely dialogue, then at least it should abide by civilized norms of warfare as enshrined in Geneva Convention and Protocol.
Moshumi Basu and Asish Gupta
Sanhati Statement, February 24, 2010
We express our profound shock, grief and feeling of outrage at the cold-blooded murder by the CRPF of Lalmohan Tudu, the president of the Pulishi Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (Peoples’ Committee against Police Atrocities), at Narcha village near Kantapahari in Lalgarh, during the night of 22nd February. There is no language that can suitably condemn this heinous crime of the murder of a leader of a mass movement. Lalmohan Tudu’s murder is just the latest in the series of murders, rapes and arrests of adivasi activists and supporters of the PCPA by the state and central police forces that has been going on in the Lalgarh area for the past six months.
Lalmohan Tudu was staying away from his home ever since the combined state and central paramilitary forces invaded Lalgarh, just as most males in the villages throughout Lalgarh are, as he ran the risk of arrest by the combined forces. On 22nd February he had returned home to meet his younger daughter who was going to appear in the state boards examination scheduled to start on 23rd February. At around 11 pm, he and another couple, Yubaraj Murmu and Suchitra Murmu, who were staying with his family, were called out by the CRPF and shot dead in cold blood. His body was found a little distance behind his house. The bodies of the others have not been found yet.
The police and the CRPF have presented constantly changing versions of the event, attempting to prove that Lalmohan Tudu was a dreaded Maoist leader killed while he was perpetrating some crime! While they initially claimed that he was killed in an exchange of fire while trying to attack the fortress-like Kantapahari CRPF camp together with a group of Maoist cadres, they later changed the version and have said that he was killed when a Maoist squad, to which he belonged, was apprehended by a CRPF raiding party. These versions are downright lies. All evidence at the site where his dead body was found (shown on local television channels) and eye witness accounts tell that he was killed near his house and his body was dragged into the paddy fields nearby. This incident clearly shows that the government has taken up the policy of individually annihilating the leaders of a mass movement of adivasis.
Lalmohan Tudu was no military strategist or ideologue of the Maoists, nor did he have connections with any political party. He was a very popular and highly regarded person, who had been elected as the president of the PCPA in a mass meeting at Dalilpur Chowk when the Lalgarh movement against state atrocities started. Many people who have visited Lalgarh in the course of the last one year remember him as a quiet elderly person, with great organizational abilities and an eye for the care and comfort of the various people visiting Lalgarh to express solidarity with the adivasis.
With his murder, the government has clearly sent out a signal that it will crush all forms of dissent by annihilating mass leaders. On one hand, the home minister is offering to talk to the Maoists, on the other his paramilitary forces are liquidating leaders of mass resistance movements. This cynical, two-faced policy is sure to drown the entire country into a vicious cycle of violence.
We vehemently condemn the murder of Sri Lalmohan Tudu as a blatant act of state terror and appeal to all democratic-minded people to join us in condemning this heinous act and demanding the immediate withdrawal of the paramilitary forces from Lalgarh.
We also demand that the government should constitute a judicial probe into this killing and those who are found guilty of planning and executing the heinous act should be adequately punished. Moreover, we demand that the state law enforcement agencies should strictly adhere to legal methods of countering any transgressions of law and any official/unofficial counter-insurgency policy of “shoot to kill” should be immediately stopped.
By Partho Sarathi Ray. February 23 2010.
Contrary to reports in the mainstream press, there was no exchange of fire between CRPF and any other persons in Kantapahari in the Lalgarh area of West Bengal. The joint forces entered the house of Lalmohan Tudu, senior leader of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), at around 11 pm, while he was preparing to go to bed. He was killed along with two of his relatives, Yubaraj Murmu and Suchitra Murmu, husband and wife. They were murdered in front of his mother, wife and only daughter (who is appearing for class X Madhyamik state exams, starting today). His brother and his wife, who live in the same house were also present. Their bodies were taken away, and then Lalmohan Tudu’s body was found lying in the fields. The other two bodies haven’t yet been found.
In Kolkata, Bandi Mukti Committee has called for a protest demonstration at College Square at 4.00 pm.
By Koustav De. February 23 2010.
Star Ananda visited the place near Lalmohan Tudu’s home where the villagers allege that CRPF shot him dead. Star Ananda captured in camera and the reporter narrated how blood stain is clear in the place and around. Heavy boot step marks were clearly visible in the wet paddy fields and blood stains make in clear that the body was dragged away.
The CRPF did not even bother to hide the evidence. Even torn pieces of blood stained cloths, lying below a date palm tree, were captured by the camera . It seems that the CRPF was certain and rightly so that no enquiry will be conducted and so they left behind all evidence carelessly.
The raw evidence picked up by camera is right near Tudu’s house. It is no where near what police and CRPF claimed that encounter took place.
It is worth mentioning here that Tudu was not staying in his own house ever since the joint forces entered Lalgarh. He went into hiding to avoid being captured. In fact, most villages in the region are devoid of any men. Only women, the children and the old had stayed back if they had nowhere else to go at all. All the men have gone into hiding. And Tudu being the PCPA president did the same. He had come back yesterday to meet his daughter who is to appear in her 10th standard Madhyamik examination which began today. At night he went to stay with his relatives Yubraj Murmu and Suchitra Murmu with whome Lalmohan Tudu’s old mother, wife and daughter were already staying. It was around 11 pm when CRPF came and picked him up along with Yubaraj Murmu and Suchitra Murmu. They were picked up in front of Tudu’s wife, daughter and old mother.
The 60+ gentleman was not a political ideologue, was not a military strategist, was no where near to being a armed squad member. He was a popular person of the region, was a beloved man of the village and decided to come to the forefront to uphold a just movement led by PCPA. A few statements and remarks by Lalmohan Tudu is captured in the film Hool. One can visit the “Our Films” section of the website of CANVAS [http://canvaspix.wordpress.com/our-films/] to catch a glimpse of the film. The portions where Tudu is speaking to the camera is at 20:59 mins and 30:13 mins.