After Nandigram, Khejuri in East Midnapore is the new flashpoint that has turned volatile following increasing reports of midnight gunbattles between the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress activists there.
And with rumours rife that CPI(M) leaders are considering Khejuri to be the base for the chemical hub – as Nandigram is a closed chapter now – and villagers unwilling to part with their lands, tension is mounting in the green fields of Khejuri. In fact, villagers apprehend Khejuri could soon witness Nandigram-like bloody battle between the villagers and the CPI(M) cadres.
On Sunday, the situation turned serious when villagers took out processions to protest against the setting up of the chemical hub in Khejuri.
To prevent a mass upsurge the villagers were disbursed by the armed CPI(M) cadres and forced to return home.
Later in the night, to prevent a backlash from the villagers the CPI(M) leaders of Khejuri announced through microphones that no land would be taken from here for the chemical hub. But the villagers do not believe the CPI(M), for they had said the same about Nandigram.
"Every night, bombs are blasted and guns fired in the villages of Simulkunda, Kanungochak and Nandigram II block. The CPI(M) cadres are trying to scare us and force us to give our lands for the chemical hub," said Abdul Latif of Kanungochak.
According to Sheikh Abu Taher, a leader of the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee, the Khejuri villages bordering Nandigram such as Deolpota, Shahebnagar, Sherkhanchok, Teghari, Kanungochok and Birbanda are tense and have been witnessing regular clashes between the CPI(M) cadres and the villagers.
"The activities of Harmat Vahini (armed party cadres) in Khejuri and the signature campaign of the CPI(M) in the villages of Khejuri on April 7 to show that people are willing to give their lands for the chemical hub here indicate that the CPI(M) leadership is surreptitiously trying to grab land here. So people of Khejuri are getting ready to strike back," said Bhumi Ucched leader SK Sufiyan.
The recent meetings of CPI(M) central committee member Surjya Kanta Mishra and State secretariat member Dipak Dasgupta have further confirmed the fear of the villagers of Khejuri. Both the leaders are campaigning for having the chemical hub in the East Midanpore district.
"That is natural. The CM has already said that we are going to have the chemical hub. And to have the chemical hub the land has to be near the highway and a port. So it is natural for the government and the party to look for land in this part of Bengal. But the government has not yet declared that Khejuri has been selected for it, so the tension is unfounded," said CPI(M) East Midnapore District Secretariat member Ashok Guria.
According to Ashok Guria, it is not the CPI(M) cadres but the troublemakers of Nandigram who are now fanning out in Khejuri and trying to scare people. "It is true that we are continuing with our campaign for having industries here. And if people want it, we are going to have it here," explained Ashok Guria.
But the CPI(M) may not have it easy. Mamata Banerjee smelling the intensions of the CPI(M) has asked her party crusader Contai MLA Suvendu Adhikari to take control over the situation.
"If the CPI(M) thinks they have influence in Khejuri and they would succeed in grabbing land there, they are mistaken. We will not allow them to have the chemical hub in the farmlands and disturb the ecological balance of the area," said Mamata.