[This is a guest post by SANTOSH RANA, one of the legendary leaders of the Naxalite revolt in 1967. Rana lead one of the important CPI(ML) groups that is active in the Jharkhand region. Here he writes of the Lalgarh and the Maoists. The post was written sometime ago. It gives a more nuanced picture of the different strands and phases of the movement, including the PCPA phase.]
Lalgarh lies in Jhargram sub-division of West Medinipur district of West Bengal. It is part of the Paschimanchal (western zone) of the state and is an extension of Chhotanagpur plateau. With its laterite soil of low water-retention capacity and Sal-Mahua forests, the area differs from the Bengal plains both geographically and culturally. It is indeed a part of the Jharkhand cultural region. Nearly 30 percent of the population are Scheduled Tribes (ST), 20 percent Scheduled Castes (SC) and the rest are communities like Kudmi-Mahatos, Telis, Kumbhars, Bagals, Rajus, Tamblis, Khandaits and others. The Kudmi-Mahatos are the biggest among the rest, who had been treated as ST till 1935 when they were de-scheduled. The Mahatos, Bagals and some other communities are actually semi-tribals who have been partly Sanskritised but still retain their tribal characteristics; now they are treated as Other Backward Classes (OBC). There are other OBC communities like Kumbhar, Tanti, Teli and others. But in West Bengal, benefits for OBCs started not only late but also unenthusiastically. Even today, there is very little reservation – only 7 percent, and that too in the government jobs only – given to the OBCs here. The OBCs are not given any reservation in higher education. The SC communities living in the region ( Bagdi, Dom, Jele, Mal and Bauri etc) are so backward that they are unable to get government or semi-government jobs through reservation. The tribals constitute 30 percent of the population Jhargram sub-division, but in local jobs, they are given only 6 percent reservations – the stipulated quota for the STs at the state level.