West Bengal: Woman Maoist commander surrenders

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Kolkata:  A woman self-styled Maoist commander has surrendered before the police in West Bengal's West Midnapore district alleging sexual exploitation by ultra leaders.

Shobha Mandi alias Sikha is the second Naxal to surrender after the West Bengal government announced a rehabilitation package for them.

"Shobha, who has five cases against her, has been keeping in touch with us for the last eight days and we succeeded in convincing her to surrender," West Midnapore Superintendent of Police, Manoj Kumar Verma said after the woman Maoist leader turned up at the Midnapore Police Lines.

"We will refer her cases to the review committee and they will decide finally," Verma said.

Mandi, the daughter of Jamadar Mandi, a resident of Koyerpahari under Sarenga Police Station in Bankura district left home in 2003 after Maoist leaders Sasadhar, Akash, Bikash, Madan and Suchitra met her family and convinced them that she would have a better life with them.

"We were very poor and they convinced us that I would have a better life. So I left home and joined a Maoist camp. But the experience turned out to be horrible," Mandi said.

"They tortured me mentally and physically in the forest and I was forced to sleep with Bikash and Kamal and others too," Mandi claimed.

Asked whether she had complained about the exploitation to top Maoist leader Kishenji, she replied, "Kishenji is too big a leader. We don't have permission to speak to him. I have seen him of course, but never spoke to him."

She claimed that the top Maoist leadership knew about the sexual exploitation of women cadre, but did not take any steps.

"I left camp on April 25 in frustration. When I came to know about the rehabilitation package I contacted the police and they promised me security. So I surrendered," she said.

She handed over a bag containing Rs 55,000 rupees to the police which she said was given to her by the Maoist-backed People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA).

Asked about the connection between the PCPA and the Maoists, she replied, "The Maoists and the PCPA are the same. The PCPA doesn't do anything without the consent of the Maoists."

Verma said that in the next 36 months she would stay at a transit camp after which she would be provided security by the police so that she was not disturbed by the Maoists or the PCPA.

Jhargram Superintendent of Police Praveen Tripathi was also present on the occasion. The Maoists, however, alleged that Mandi was arrested on April 25.

On Thursday, a Maoist squad member Shobhon Karak surrendered with arms. He was the first Maoist to surrender after the announcement of the rehabilitation package by the state government.

Meanwhile, two suspected Maoists were arrested and some explosives seized during anti-Naxal operations at Barigara in Khunti district of Jharkhand.

The securitymen comprising the CRPF and district police arrested Satya Deo Thakur and Ravi Munda, both facing charges of blowing up a mobile tower, Additional SP Vijay Kumar told newsmen in Khunti.

The arrested duo led the security forces to a hideout at Lungburu hills where a landmine, ten empty cans, a binocular and equipment for making explosives were found, Kumar added.


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