Under the backdrop of threatening of ‘Dumdum Dewai’ by Mrs. Brinda Karat, the Politburo member of her party on 4.11.2007 at Kolkata in a meeting of a women organisation, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) unleashed fresh terror at Nandigram from 6th November 2007. The ruling party has turned the Nandigram turf into a battlefield where the police force was kept idle in Nandigram police station under the instructions from superiors under tacit arrangement between ruling party bosses and its armed forces.
The villagers of Nandigram protested and refused to part with their agricultural land which was proposed by the State government of acquiring of 19000 acres for establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the area. Under raising protest over such proposal Bhumi Uchhed Protirodh Committee (B.U.P.C.), organization of the local villagers, was floated to lead the movement. Number of time the people experienced widespread violence and loss of human lives starting from 3rd January 2007 and that ultimately culminated in to loss of lives of 14 people by firing of police and hoodlums belong to CPIM party jointly at Nandigram on 14.3.2007. The area was virtually liberated by B.U.P.C. preventing the police from entering in to the villages by digging roads and making road blocks on the apprehension that the government would apply force to acquire land, like other places of the state. Under stiff protest from the villagers, the government pulled back and abandoned the plan of acquiring land for SEZ there but the impasse continued all through with sporadic violence time to time that marred the situation of returning into normalcy and peace in Nandigram. The ruling party attempted to take control over the place where B.U.P.C. established its strong root with local people. The rule of gun and muscle power continued to grip Nandigram, while the common people suffered in a violent atmosphere with all usual activities of life remained suspended. The government failed to make chord with the people and establish rule of law there.
In order to win the ‘Area’ in Nandigram blocks, the party goons started to gain control on the areas at Nandigram Block no. II with armed attacks on 6.11.2007 organizing attacks from Tekhali Bridge situated at the southern side of Nandigram Block no.I under preplanned action whereas such attacks were foiled by B.U.P.C members on several earlier occasions. Under the virulent attacks by the party controlled goons with sophisticated armory, Bhumi Uchhed Protirodh Committee (B.U.P.C.) retreated from their earlier controlled areas at Nandigram Block II. As per official government version, 3 persons were killed and 14 injured in the clash. Rabin Das, Tushar Sahoo and Nirapada Ghata were human casualties with many more injured persons. Later on, more deaths were reported while dead bodies were recovered. The party established its hold on entire block of Nandigram block II on next two days with its armed forces under calculated inaction by the police and administration. In a free war zone without any trace of law enforcing agency, the party grabbed Simulkund, Satengabari, Janbari, Maheshpur Bazar villages in the said block area.
All these things happened, while Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mr. Budhadev Bhattacharya was asking for deployment of Central Reserve Police Force at Nandigram for restoration of law and order there. This clearly proves that the state government has failed to establish law end order there.
For last ten months huge number of people allegedly the supporters of the ruling side had to evacuate their homes and took shelter at Khejuri, the party controlled area, in camps situated at the southern side of Nandigram in other side of Jalpati Canal dividing Nandigram and Khejuri Blocks. Local party leaders planned to attack the villages, they engaged professional killers from outside and district police force was asked to maintain silence and to keep eyes shut. In the name of returning homes of the CPI(M) supporters, the armed hooligans started gaining control of these areas by indiscriminate firing from automatic rifles, torching the houses of the supporters of BUPC, ransacking and looting, etc. And in contrast, in this war-like situation thousands villagers fled away from their houses and took shelter in different camps under fear of violence, loot and harm from the ruling cadres.
On 7.11.2007, the government announced compensation for victims of police firing of Rs.Two hundred thousands each who were killed on 14 March 2007.
As the party had made out and chalked out plan for taking over Nandigram by sheer force in connivance with police and administration, the party cadres blocked all roads to Nandigram preventing the political persons, social and NGO activists, members of non-party organizations and even the press to enter in to Nandigram to gauge the first hand appraisal of the situation there. Towards the journey to Nandigram, after latest fiasco, Ms. Medha Patekar, a reputed social activist along with her companions was stopped by the party cadres on 7.11.2007 and she was manhandled by the party cadres along with her associates, though one police pilot car was there, but all police personnel were seem to be mute, deaf and motionless. Even the pressmen were attacked by the party supporters in presence of police who played the role of mute spectators and allowed the party members to indulge in unruly activities.
Ms. Medha Patkar along with many others are now at stay-in-demonstration in central Kolkata. From Monday, 12.11.2007 an indefinite general strike has been called which was supported by almost all the opposition party.
The secretary of Jamaet-e-Ulema Hind, Mr. Siddiqulla Chowdhury proceeded for Nandigram with prior information to the police, but the police failed to make road for him to Nandigram rather arrested him and other leaders and let off them at Kolaghat for their return to Kolkata.
It seems that Nandigram is not a part of a democratic country where life and liberty of the people is guaranteed under the Constitution of India. It is like old warlords who are fighting each other in a pitched battle to gain their control over areas with help of arms and private armies. There are no remnants of modern civilization and democratic practices. The State government is elated that the party has been able to gain the control over the area by application of brute power and belied the hope of neutral governance which is expected from a democratically elected government. At Nandigram, power is actually flowing out from the barrels of guns.
The Governor of West Bengal, Mr. Gopal Krishna Gandhi made statements on 9.11.2007 over the latest incidents at Nandigram and expressed his extreme displeasure and total disproval of ‘winning’ areas in Nandigram by party musclemen by using gun power. He indirectly indicted the government for the present turbulent situation at Nandigram. The very statement made by the Governor was applauded by the all sections of civil society. But the chairman of the ruling left front, Mr. Biman Bose, also secretary of state CPIM party, strongly criticized the Governor and his comment. One cabinet member of West Bengal, Mr. Kshiti Goswami, Minister-in-Charge of Public Works Department, openly criticized its own government and inaction of police.
In the meantime, the situation in Nandigram turned into grave concern. On 10.11.2007, the CPI (M) goons fired on a peaceful procession of B.U.P.C. killing officially 3 persons and injuring more than twenty. The unconfirmed report suggested killing of 50 persons and their bodies were carried by the killers to restrict the numbers of dead. Most shocking part of the incident was that there were rape victims as well. One Moni Shaw has been admitted in Tamluk Mahakuma Hospital as rape victim. It has been also reported that One woman namely Anwara of Satengabari was also raped. It can safely be said that hired goons were entrusted to do the job otherwise the offences like rape could not have been possible. In addition to number of deaths, one more injured person, Mr. Tapash Khatua who was being carried from Tamluk Hospital to Kolkata died during the journey. Among the dead persons, Shyamali Manna, a female died by firing by CPI (M) goons. The injured victims namely Ashish Pandit, Goutam Pal, Yadav Maity, Akreja Bibi were admitted in Tamluk Hospital with bullet injuries in critical condition. Mr. Sanat Pramanik was referred to Kolkata Hospital as his condition became serious. The disturbed situation snowballed with day progressing outside the boundary of Nandigram. The main opposition party called strikes for indefinite period from 12.11.2007 with the support of other political parties.
Two absconded murderers, Tapan Ghosh and Sukur Ali, both were charged by CBI for mass killing at Chhoto Angaria village on 4th January 2001, were arrested at Egra by the police at last. Both the persons were carrying bullet ridden injured people by 5 vehicles, when suspected by the villagers, they stopped those vehicles and it was revealed that Tapan and Sukur were carrying injured people of Nandigram who were supporters of BUPC to coceal the bodies so that number of deaths can be diminished. It amply proved that outsider goons were hired by the CPIM party to occupy forcefully Nandigram villages. Later it has been learnt that the identity of those persons were kept secret and they were produced before the Magistrate court in different names. It is also a glare example of direct and open connivance with police administration, government higher-ups and the killers under political shelter.
On 10.11.07, thousands of helpless villagers sat in front of Nandigram police station. They all wanted shelter and peace after the onslaught by party goons on peaceful procession but the police resorted to lathi charge and many people were injured due to baton beating. Those people are facing severe shortage of food and proper amenities including medical assistances, out of them mostly are women, children and elderly persons.
Considering the present phase, it is unlikely that Nandigram will return to peace so easily and lot of trouble is stored in the future of the people there, the democratic conception will further suffer set back on coming days under inept and biased governance.
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
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West Bengal INDIA
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