Midnapore, Nov 17 (PTI) What started as a backlash against alleged police repression on tribals in Jhargram might snowball into a full-blown separatist movement as political parties representing adivasis now want Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore districts to secede from West Bengal and join Jharkhand.
"The police atrocities on us have reached to such an extent that we are left with no alternative but to secede from West Bengal and join Jharkhand," Jharkhand Party (Aditya) general secretary Aditya Kisku told PTI.
"We are sympathetic towards agitators. People of this area have become so angry because of years of negligence by the government over the years. There has been no development and the tribals have been exploited. The outburst is the result of this," Kisku said.
He believed integrating the districts into Jharkhand "would solve the tribals' problems" because Jharkhand people would understand "our sentiments and we would not be looked down upon' as in West Bengal".
"The people of West Bengal are least bothered about our sentiments, culture and development," Jharkhand Party (Naren) president Chunibala said.
He said that the three mainstream tribal parties - Jharkhand Party (Aditya), Jharkhand Party (Naren) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha - are even thinking of coming under one umbrella to press for their demands.
"Our people are constantly arrested and harassed on suspicion of being Naxals or Maoist sympathisers. They are released eventually after some time because nothing incriminating is found. Why we are tortured this way? At least in Jharkhand we will not face this," Chunibala said.
When Jharkhand was created in 2000, there was a demand to include the three districts of West Bengal and four districts of Orissa, including Mayurbhunj, Keonjhar and Sundargarh, into Jharkhand, but it got torpedoed by the factional feud within the Jharkhand party itself which first raised the demand, Chunibala said.
"Though we have a different vision regarding the development of tribes, our demand is the same and so we are trying to negotiate so that we can come under one umbrella," he added.
Meanwhile, CPI (Maoist) posters demanding induction of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore into Jharkhand were seen pasted on walls in different areas of Belpahari and Lagar in Jhargram and also in front of the house of the ration dealer Ashoke Halder, who was killed the day before yesterday by suspected Naxals.
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