MALDA, 13 APRIL: If poppy cultivation is a menace in Malda and administration was all out to prevent it, the latest step of administration in this regard has caused a wonder. Police of Kaliachak police station filed FIR against 700 odd persons in charge of poppy cultivation of Akandaberia gram panchayet among whom at least 37 had died at least 10 years back. Worse 12 of them were arrested who do not have a smallest piece of land.
It may be noted that on the rise of poppy cultivation in recent years, administration has taken steps to curb it. So far poppy cultivation in 2200 bighas of land was destroyed and 26 cases were filed. To act against these cases, police had filed FIR against about 700 persons (No 140/12 dated 17.3.2012). Some of them are teachers, researchers and intellectuals of the area. 12 of the accused were arrested among whom eight belonged to village Balupur, two to Balupur and two to Srinibaspur. None of them had a piece of land. Again FIR was lodged against those who had died many years back.
Angry villagers have formed ‘Akandaberia Jiban Jibika Rakkha Committee’ in protest of this police action. The committee has furnished a list of 37 villagers including Dr Sushil Chandra Mandal, who had got his PhD on research on chain community, the President’s Award Winning teacher Anil Mandal, Subal Mandal, Karnadhar Saha, Bijoy Mnadal, Dwarikanath Saha and others who had died at least 10 years back. At least 14 persons figured in the list all of whom are government servants. Sufal Mandal on behalf of the Committee said, “In the name of curbing poppy cultivation, police have begun to harass common villagers. They have arrested Dasudeb Mandal, Sasthi Mandal and others who never had a small piece of land of their own.”
Former MLA and CPI-M leader Biswanath Ghosh has stood beside the victims. He said, “How can police arrest those landless people in charge of poppy cultivation? Even the dead persons have featured in list. Are police out to shield the real opium mafias who have nexus with them?”
Although superintendent of polices and land revenue officers didn’t like to comment on this issue, Chittaranjan Mandal deputy commissioner of excise said, “Many people sell their land but do not record it in land department. The faulty list of accused might have been a result of this lack of record of the land owners.”