Malbazar,: A bandh called by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today kept away tribals from a CPM meeting where party secretary Biman Bose announced the formation of a new front that he said would work for them.
Spurred by the Parishad, the majority of Adivasis or tribals in the Dooars stayed away from the CPM meeting here. Police escorted a few eager cadres to the Forward Club grounds — the meeting venue 45km from Jalpaiguri town — but they were mostly non-tribals. The bandh supporters moved away on seeing the police vehicles, which made way for buses and cars carrying CPM activists.
Besides Bose, CPM politburo member Brinda Karat and CPM district secretary Manik Sanyal also spoke to the 4,000-odd crowd, which could have swelled to at least 50,000 if tribals from Malbazar tea gardens alone had attended the meeting.
The Parishad had called the bandh to counter the CPM meeting. The outfit has accused the ruling party of doing little for the development of tribals in the past 34 years. “Had it been a successful CPM meeting, hordes of Adivasis from the gardens would have arrived and the crowd would have been close to 50,000-60,000,” said John Barla, the president of the Dooars-Terai committee of the Parishad, which now has a considerable support base in the Dooars. He said a meeting would be held at Kalchini’s Atiabari tomorrow to counter the CPM’s criticisms of the outfit.
The bandh supporters used tyres, flags and stones to raise blockades on NH31, Lataguri-Chulsa road and other arterial routes in the Dooars, disrupting normal traffic.
Violence was reported at Ranichera More near Odlabari where suspected bandh supporters pelted a pick-up van carrying CPM supporters with stones. Three passengers were injured in the attack and were administered first aid at Malbazar Subdivisional Hospital.
“We will take up several key issues associated with the development of the tribal population in different parts of the state, be it in the Jangal Mahal or the tea estates of north Bengal,” said Bose, announcing the formation of the Paschimbanga Adivasi Adhikar Mancha.
Karat said the crowd at the meeting today proved that the Parishad had failed in its purpose. “We will create pressure on the Centre to confer land rights on tribals in tea gardens,” she said.
The 54-member Mancha includes the party’s MP from Jhargram Pulin Bihari Baskey and Nagrakata MLA Sukhmait Oraon.Courtesy:TheTelegraph.