Some days and months are never like others. Sheikh Tajir recalls the day armed CPI-M cadres descended on Satangabari and razed to the ground 30 mud houses in what felt like 30 years of hell. It was November 9, 2007, Tajir is positive, because one of those mud houses was his home.
Yet, it’s not November but March that is the cruelest month for Tajir and others like him in Nandigram. On March 14, 2007, the police fired and killed 14 villagers who were just trying to resist land acquisition for industry and engaged CPM supporters in a clash. That was the beginning of eight months of arson, mayhem, rape and plunder in which Tajir can at best be a forgotten case in point.
Tajir is resigned to living in a makeshift house made of tarpaulin, hay and bamboo stumps with his family of five until some other violent turn of events flings him aside. “We have lost everything. It’s not yet summer but it’s like a blazing furnace under this tarpuline tent. It will be worse when the rains come,” he says.
The scene is similar at Adhikaripara in Gokulnagar. Burnt out bamboo poles and haystack stand where homes once stood. On November 11 last year, those households were looted and set on fire.
“We don’t have money to rebuild our houses. We were told the government would give us the money. It was a pack of lies. People have lost faith in the CPM,” says Sadesh Das Adhikari, one of many who lost their houses. A tour of Keya-khali, Ranichak, Saifullahchak, Jambari, Chowrin-ghee Bazar, Sonachura and other places throws up the same old of deprivation and neglect.
“The CRPF men stay in their camps. There is no patrolling at night when guns are fired and bombs go off,” a villager says. Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee supporters fear that with panchayat polls drawing near, the CPM could launch another attack on them. “The CPM has realised people will vote against them,” Sheikh Sufiyan of the BUPC says.
“We are being left out. We haven’t got the money promised us. But many CPM supporters whose houses remain intact are getting money,” says Sadesh Das of Gokulnagar.
The CPM leadership is unfazed. “There is no problem anymore between the CPM and BUPC. It is all personal enmity,” CPM district secretariat member Ashok Guria says.