Arrogant Buddha-deb, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, was at last compelled to retreat at Nandigram of East Midnapore district. He told the press that no action will be taken now for acquiring land and ordered the district administration to tear the notification and that his party will convince the farmers to hand over land by consensus. He stated that it was a great mistake and that lack of information by the police intelligence caused the situation.
Unidentified CPM cadres with modern firearms killed at least six people (unofficially 11 people and the same number of persons are missing) at midnight operation on January 6. People of the area were roaring with anger after Haldia Development Authority announced to acquire 14,000 acres of harvesting land of 27 revenue villages. This was for SEZ on that area and to hand over that land to Salim Group of Indonesia as per the new industrialisation policy of the West Bengal government. But Buddha'spolice was nowhere when the innocent people were murdered. Chief Minister himself is in charge of the home ministry. The villagers said that the armed battle continued for at least six hours on January 6, at night. CPM central committee member and Krishak Sabha leader Binoy Konar said that his party people might have surrounded the villagers from outside and they must have answered with arms, once again following the past policy which is called ?Keshpur line? (where forcibly the anti-Left people were forced to flee away or to support CPM at gun-point). He said this in an interview to an electronic media in the evening of the same day.
Many villagers of Nandigram block area have collected arms to confront the CPM goons. From January 4, people of the villages concerned were planning to stop take-over of the land by applying police force. They arranged barricades and broke the small bridges, dug up the road so that police could not enter the villages. Several meeting were held to ensure the unity of the people unwilling to give away their paternal fertile agricultural land. But the villagers have only conventional arms like axe, chopper and stick.
Police was present there but the massacre took place. The question is who ordered police not to take action when the fighting continued for many hours. The same police charged sticks and rubber bullets upon the villagers at Singur, even entering the houses and beating the women. What is the mystery?
The majority of the population (61 per cent) belong to minority community and in the very recent past they were the solid vote -bank of the CPM and other Left parties. The panchyat election is also knocking at the door. The local MLA Md. Iliyas belongs to CPI. He himself is against acquiring the land. Even the most important matter is that there are 112 Hindu temples and 42 mosques in that area. Some temples are more than three hundred years old. Thousands of people assemble regularly to attend Friday namaz every week.
Although the six dead bodies were recovered so far, only one is Muslim, Seikh Selim.
?Jamiyat Ulemaye Hind? strongly protested the state government'sattitude towards SEZ by the Salim Group of Indonesia.
Kolkata police arrested social activist Medha Patkar (later released) when she was going to Howrah on January 10. Medha condemned the procedure of state government. She described the West Bengal government'sattitude as double standard as CPM is supporting her in Maharashtra on the same issue. Medha is determined to go on hunger strike and she did not take any food offered by police on January 10, 2007. She showed the rules of SEZ from a printed book and said that what the common farmers are doing regularly is sanctioned by the law itself. She asked if fertile harvesting land is being acquired for industry in the state then will the people eat cars?
A delegation from NDA led by Sushma Swaraj, which included Sahnawaz Hussain, Mukul Roy, S.S. Ahluwalia, Dinesh Trivedi, Kharabela Swin and Kakli Ghosh Dastidar of TMC went to the village Sonachura of Nandigram and met the villagers. They addressed at least two public meetings there. Sushma Swaraj strongly condemned the dealings of the Left government of West Bengal and demanded the resignation of the Chief Minister. She said that the villagers blamed the police and the CPM leaders like MP Laxman Seth, minister Susant Ghosh and local leader Sudhanshu Babu for the massacare. She stated that her party is not against SEZ, but SEZ must set up on the non-harvesting land in the state which is available. Sushma Swaraj also met Mamata Banerjee at a nursing home.
Shri Kshiti Goswami (RSP), Shri Ashok Ghosh (Forward Block) and Manju Kumar Mazumdar (CPI) also strongly condemned the incident of Nandigram and blamed the big brother CPM for unwanted violence.
The arms and the men that once terrorised Keshpur of Paschim Midnapore are at Nandigram and this time to terrorise their own men to give up land and property to ensure the proposed SEZ. The family members of the six people who were killed in violence there as well as those whose houses and shops were ransacked in the wee hours on Sunday (January 7) had identified four men who once had struck terror at Keshpur.
Seikh Rabiul Islam, Kebal Das, Satya Das and Shankar Patra, whom the villagers of Sonachura believed to be the leaders of the CPM'scadre bahini, were seen wielding weapons from across the Khejuri bridge and targeted innocent members and supporters of the Krishijami Raksha Committee.
According to Shri Narayan Bhunia, a resident of Sonachura village, the CPM'scadre bahini? had assembled at some houses in Khejuri about seven days back. They were also carrying weapons that included automatic firearms and stocking them. On the day of the incident, those armed men allegedly crossed over from Khejuri to Sonachura via the Bhangabhera bridge and took shelter at the house of Shankar Samanta, a member of the CPM.
Shri Pranab Manna, another eye-witness to that incident, said the armed men started firing indiscriminately at a peaceful gathering of the Krishijami Raksha Committee. ?We could only throw some stones in retaliation as we don'thave any firearms. As the daylight came, we could identify Rabiul, Kebal, Satya and Shankar as they kept firing on us from Shankar Samanta'shouse,? he said. Soon after these men fled, an angry mob attacked Shankar Samanta'shouse and set it ablaze. Shankar Samanta died from burns. The mob also attacked the house of Laxman Mandal, the CPM pradhan of panchayat but they could not trace him. The mob ransacked the house and had reportedly seized a revolver from his house.
(The author can be contacted at 27/1B, Bidhan Sarani, Kolkata-6)