The fourth peace-meeting at Nandigram failed to take off at Tamluk on Sunday with Trinamool Congress, SUCI, BJP and the Congress refusing to participate as the agenda of the peace meeting did not include discussion on the situation in Nandigram.
Till late night on Saturday, it looked that after three successive failed peace-committee meetings – February 19, February 22 and March 10 – the opposition parties were finally ready to attend the fourth one on Sunday to clinch several issues that they feel immediately need to be addressed by the state administration.
But it was Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee who pulled the chain on Sunday late morning when she came to know that despite repeated requests by the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee, the letter sent from the district administration to the political parties only mentioned discussion on the general law and order situation in East Midnapore and not on Nandigram.
In a telephonic conversation, Mamata told Trinamool Congress District President Sisir Adhikari on Sunday to immediately write a letter to DIG Ramesh Babu, who called the peace-meeting, saying that it would not be possible for Trinamool to attend unless changes were made in the agenda. Coming to know of the Trinamool stand, SUCI, BJP and the Congress followed suit and abstained from the peace-meeting.
"For the last two days, we have been holding the general body and secretariat meetings of the party, apart from meeting with the villagers of Nandigram at the booths level. People are not ready for the meeting. Their verdict is very clear and loud that until and unless the firings and bombings at Khejuri and Gangamore stops, CPI(M) cadres stop harassing the villagers and women and children feel safe there can be no peace meeting in Nandigram," said Sisir Adhikari.
"And Mamata's decision to abstain from the meeting is in keeping with the mood of the local people. But we believe the doors have not been closed permanently. If the state government wants there is always scope for bi-partite and single-party meeting for bringing normalcy in Nandigram," added Sisir Adhikari.
Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee leader and Trinamool MLA Suvendu Adhikari said there were several factors that need to be addressed before a congenial atmosphere for the peace meeting could be created in Nandigram.
People are unhappy that CBI enquiry into the mayhem of March 14 at Nandigram has proved to be unproductive. There are 1,960 false cases slapped against innocent villagers of Nandigram and despite requests the cases are not being withdrawn by the administration. Almost, 600 supporters of Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee are still out of their homes and no step is being taken by the administration to rehabilitate them.
"It is almost 90 days now that farmers are being prevented to carry their produce out of Nandigram to the markets of Haldia by the CPI(M) cadres. This blockade is causing immense trouble to them. And no steps are being taken to arrest those involved in the Nandigram killings. If this is the situation how do you expect the people to have faith in peace meetings?" asked Trinamool District Vice-President Chittaranjan Maity.
Finally, the Congress leaders also pointed out that at least 27 villagers are still missing from Nandigram, Sonachura, Jalpai, Rainagar and Gokulnagar, since March 14. "We apprehend they must have been killed by the CPI(M) cadres, let the administration first find them before talking of peace," said State CLP leader Manas Bhuniya.