ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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WEST BENGAL-No Hope for MISA Detenus

been campaigning for the commutation of the death sentence passed on Naga- bhushan Patnaik, got an altogether different: impression when he met the Prime Minister in mid-April from that conveyed by the Prime Minister's letter to the Chief Ministers. The Prime Minister bluntly told Das that she refused to believe that there hat! been any change in the Naxalite tactical line. Further, after the Supreme Court had struck down Section 17(a) of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act there has been no move, not even in West Bengal, to release those held under the impugned provision of the Act. In fact, the West Bengal Chief Minister has given the impression that the state government was in no mood to countenance any large-scale release of Naxalite prisoners. On the contrary, a systematic campaign has been launched in the press about the alleged spurt in Naxalite activity in West Bengal. There is a sinister pattern in the attempt to link cases of gun-snatching and cop-killing with revival of Naxalite activity. Minders resulting from crude Congress factional rivalries in the state have also been ingenuously ascribed to the Nax- alite's annihilation campaign. All this has provided the smoke-screen for fresh arrests in the state, by giving the public the impression that not only would it be imprudent to release those in prison but that prudence required the rounding up of many who had escaped arrest in the past, It was against this background that the National Convention for the Release of Naxalites, unmistakably a CPI- sponsored show, took place in New Delhi on April 20 and 21. Perhaps the CPI thought that a general release of prisoners was in any case round the corner and that it should be in a position to appropriate the credit for it. Again, it has been reported that about 180 Naxalite prisoners in Andhra Pradesh have gone over to the CPI which wants to secure their release so that they could provide much-needed cadres for the party in the state. The CIT also hopes perhaps that release of Naxalite prisoners in West Bengal may benefit it similarly. Or it could be that the government itself at one stage thought of releasing the prisoners and wanted the CPI to get some credit for it. Finally, the convention also had the objective of discomfiting the CPI(M). The CPI(M) could not participate in the convention so long as its scope was limited to .securing the release only of Naxalite prisoners. For, the CPI(M)'s cadres are also victims, especially in West Bengal of the draconian laws invoked against the Naxalites.

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