The battle for Nandigram is not yet over.
During the last 48 hours, 1,200 CPI(M) workers have been driven out of their homes, 12 party offices burnt down, and four party leaders arrested for possessing illegal arms.
The attackers this time are Trinamool Congress workers. And the location is Khejuri, a village separated from Nandigram by a canal, about 70 km southwest of Kolkata.
The trouble began after a large cache of arms and ammunition was recovered from the house of a CPI(M) Panchayat chief.
1,017 rounds of bullets and five guns – two of them long-range rifles – were also recovered from the house of a local committee secretary of the party. Three persons were arrested in this connection.
Local Trinamool Congress MP Subhendu Adhikary said, “We will bring out the arms. The CPI(M) used Khejuri as their base to fire at us during the Nandigram struggle. This is a revolution, like the one in Nandigram.”
The village was allegedly used by CPI(M) cadres in 2007 as a launch pad for attacks, when Nandigram was occupied by the Trinamool Congress.
The last attack was the infamous ‘Operation Sunrise’ in November 2007 to recapture Nandigram. There were allegations that armed CPI(M) cadres entered the village in police uniform.
In 2007, the West Bengal government decided to allow the Salim Group from Indonesia to set up a chemical hub in Nandigram under the Special Economic Zone scheme. But that led to an armed resistance by the villagers, resulting in clashes with the police.
State chief secretary, Ashok Mohan Chakraborty, visited Khejuri on Wednesday to assess the situation. Although Trinamool supporters allowed him to enter the area, they raised slogans and asked him to return.
Earlier on Tuesday, five Left Front ministers, sent by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to take stock of the situation, were stopped from entering Khejuri.
Ashok Guria, CPI(M) district secretariat member, said, “Our supporters and party men have been forced to leave their houses during the last two days. Many have taken shelter in relatives’ homes. About a hundred took shelter at the local police station.”
Guria, however, said, “We informed the party brass about the possible violence after the election results were out, but they did not pay any heed to us. Now things have gone out of our hands.”