K N Ramachandran, the general secretary of the Naxalite party CPI (Marxist Leninist) Red Star, has mysteriously disappeared after arriving in Kolkata on the afternoon of January 22, Sunday. He was in Kolkata to hold a press conference on the Bhangar movement in which his party has been supporting and helping the protesting farmers.
The party is alleging that the state government authorities, afraid of losing people's support through this agitation at Bhangar, may have a hand in Ramachandran's disappearance. The party authorities have already lodged a complaint with the Chitpore police station of Kolkata and have also spoken to senior officers at Lalbazar (police headquarters in Kolkata).
Sharmistha Chowdhury, a member of the party, told HuffPost India, "Our general secretary arrived in Kolkata in a train around 5:30 pm on January 22. He then spoke with a member of our party and informed him about his arrival. But he neither arrived at the place where he was supposed to reach, nor were we able to contact him till now. Nor has he called us."
Ramachandran arrived in Kolkata on a train from Lucknow. He was at Kolkata railway station, and had told a party colleague that he would reach his place at Ballygunge from there. "When we didn't reach his place in over an hour, we started to call him, but his phone was switched off," she said.
"While the phone was switched off on January 22 evening, it has been ringing all of today," she added. "We are suspecting that the state government does not want his presence in Kolkata and therefore they may have organised this whole thing," Sharmistha Chowdhury said.
"We suspect the involvement of Mamata's notorious Special Police in comrade's missing. We demand the Mamata Govt. to unconditionally produce Com KN Ramachandran immediately," the CPI (ML) Red Star's Central Committee issued a statement which is available on its website, said.
CPI (ML) Red Star is a Naxalite organisation ("We support the Naxalbari movement" said Alik Chakraborty a senior leader of the party), but the party is not banned. "We are a registered organisation," said Chowdhurty. "Neither is Ramachandran's coming to Kolkata illegal," she added.
Villagers of Bhangar clashed with the police on January 17, after police allegedly entered their homes, ransacked their property and beat them up. The agitation at Bhangar – under South 24 Parganas district and located 35 km from Kolkata – is over the construction of a power grid substation that was nearing completion.
The villagers had been disgruntled for several years now over acquisition of farmland in the area, and the CPI (ML) Red Star has been backing the movement of the villagers that is being organised under the banner Jami, Jibika, Poribesh O Bastutantra Raksha Committee (Committee to protect land, livelihood, environment and ecosystem). Some days after the flare-up, the CPI (ML) Red Star's general secretary was coming down to address the issue and to take the movement further.
Joint Commissioner of Police, (Crime), Vishal Garg, asked: "Who is he? What has happened to him?" The response was exactly the same from Murli Dhar, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Task Force (STF), who said: "Who is he? I am not aware." Kolkata Police Commissioner, Rajeev Kumar, was not available for comment.
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