August 30, 2010

Naxal woman leader, who alleged sexual abuse, surrenders

TNN, Aug 28, 2010, 03.58am IST
KOLKATA: Maoist woman leader Shobha Mandi alias Uma, who had narrated a sordid saga of rape and sexual abuse in an exclusive interview to TOI published on August 24, surrendered to the police in West Midnapore on Friday. After four months on the run, the CPI-Maoist Jhargram area commander walked into West Midnapore SP Manoj Verma's office around 7pm. Clad in a green salwar-kameez with a cream dupatta covering her head, she handed over a bag containing Rs 55,500 and her personal belongings to the cops. She wasn't carrying any weapons.

Mandi said she belonged to People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), the Maoist-led group responsible for the mass upsurge against police and CPM cadres in Lalgarh. She had mentored PCPA members involved in the Jnaneswari train blast that killed 148 people.

"She will be kept in a secure transit camp. Her parents have been informed. They can come and meet her. We will write to the Screening and Rehabilitation officer who will decide what benefits she will be entitled to as per the surrender policy," Verma told TOI. Uma had got in touch with the district police 7-8 days ago through her own network expressing her intention to surrender, said Verma. Wanted in five cases in Belpahari and Jhargram, she has not been arrested though.

After her case is scrutinized by the government and police, she will be entitled to a host of benefits that the government gives to encourage former Naxals to join the mainstream. These include a fixed deposit of Rs 1.5 lakh which can be withdrawn after three years subject to good behaviour; monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 for maximum 36 months and vocational training for skill development.

The 23-year-old woman who commanded 25-30 armed Maoist squad members deftly fielded questions by reporters. She said she ran away from her commanding post in April this year but denied reports that she had been in police custody all this while. She said she hadn't been home for two years and was living in hideouts in forests and other places since she deserted the red ranks. She refused to divulge the locations for fear of exposing those who shielded her from the wrath of Naxals.
Why did she surrender? "I want to lead an ordinary life, a life that all normal people life," she told reporters. Earlier, she had told TOI she had been wanting to run away from day 1. She had alleged that she had been raped by senior Maoist leaders, including key Maoist leader Bikash. When she complained, she was isolated and threatened with dire consequences if she protested again. "They commit injustices against which they claimed they are fighting," Uma had told TOI.

Her father Jamadar Mandi told TOI he was happy that his daughter was back. "We have seen her twice in the last seven years. Last time we saw her, she was in fatigues and went back the same day."

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