Bullets, bombs rule Nandigram ballot
Thursday’s polling had seen bloody violence in the hamlets of Nandigram. Four people were killed that day. On Saturday, 48-hours later, tension still prevailed as Trinamool and the CPI(M) activists clashed at Bhutarmore in Garchakraberia, Jadubarichak and Sonachura in the now-infamous villages of West Bengal. Arindam Sarkar reports.kolkata Updated: May 10, 2009 01:47 IST
The eerie silence in Nandigram was shattered by blazing guns and bombs on Saturday morning. The CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress cadres were locked in an intense gun battle. Two Trinamool and two CPI(M) activists were injured. One person was killed. Nandigram had flared up again.
Thursday’s polling had seen bloody violence in the hamlets of Nandigram. Four people were killed that day. On Saturday, 48-hours later, tension still prevailed as Trinamool and the CPI(M) activists clashed at Bhutarmore in Garchakraberia, Jadubarichak and Sonachura in the now-infamous villages of West Bengal. Both Trinamool and CPI(M) had called a bandh to protest the violence on polling day.
"Everything was peaceful after the panchayat elections. But since two months before the Lok Sabha election, Nandigram is on the boil again," said Sabina Khatun of Garchakraberia, who lost her relatives in violence in Nandigram.
“Our supporters and leaders have been driven out of Nandigram. When they try to enter the villages, Trinamool is resorts to violence,” alleged CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose. Refuting Bose’s charge, Trinamool panchayat leader Sheikh Sufiyan said the CPI(M) has brought in armed cadres to rig the elections.
Scared of CPI(M) strongman and candidate Lakshman Seth and the possible attack by his red army, after the first clashes erupted in the region, Trinamool workers stay in touch with others in the nearby villages over the mobile phone. This time, the CPI(M) is up against a well-organised and armed popular resistance.
The CPI(M) was wiped out in Nandigram in the 2008 panchayat election. But with Bengal facing municipal and Assembly elections in 2009 and 2011 respectively, the party is desperate to regain control here. The party is also keen because of the Left Front government's pending industrial ventures in the district.
Nandigram turned against the Marxists in March 2007, when people clashed with the police and party cadres to resist the CPI(M)-led state government's move to acquire 14,500 acres of land for setting up a chemical hub. Faced with the situation of losing their lands, the once Marxist fortress, Nandigram, shifted allegiance towards the Trinamool to resist the forcible acquisition.