KOLKATA, Sept. 8: To beat the Maoist menace in the state, police are keen to cut off their funds supply. Intelligence Branch officials and the police of Midnapore West, Purulia and Bankura have prepared a list of private firms and businessmen who are suspected to have provided funds to Maoists over the past few years. These people have been put under surveillance.
A senior IB official said they have recorded telephonic conversations between Maoists and the owners of some private firms, including petrol pumps, and other businessmen. The ultras were found to be demanding and negotiating for funds.
The official said most of the funds come from businessmen who are engaged in illegal mining. Purulia, Bankura and Midnapore West have several abandoned mines where businessmen engage labourers to extract copper, lead and limestone, used in the cement industry.
These businessmen are the primary targets of the Maoists. They have no other option but to pay the "levy" as they are not able to lodge complaints with the police.
If they decline to pay, they are threatened and eventually eliminated.
"The telephonic conversations that have been obtained, however, reveal that most of the businessmen who had provided funds have been pressured and threatened by Maoists," the official said. The police stations concerned have been alerted and a close watch is being maintained.
Some of the Maoist cadres who have been arrested over the past few years have also confessed during interrogation about such practices.
Police had also detained some businessmen and illegal mine owners for questioning.
The official said Maoists were forcing farmers in some remote villages of these districts to take up opium cultivation. They are then demanding a major portion of the harvest, which are sold in the market to raise funds.
If the farmers decline to hand over the crop, they are either killed or the harvest is taken way by the cadres forcibly.
The funds are used to acquire arms and infrastructure like satellite phones, sustain cadres, provide training, run propaganda campaigns, distribute and print literature.