With tension still simmering at Nandigarm, the scene of the March 14 police firing on villagers protesting land acquistion for an SEZ, the Roman Catholic Church in Kolkata has stepped in with a peace initiative, offering to mediate between the warring sides.
"We are ready to mediate. We have sought an appointment with the Home Secretary next week for this," Fr IP Sarto, spokesman of the church Seva Kendra in Kolkata, said the agency.
Archbishop of Kolkata Lucas Sircar, Bishop of Baruipur Salvadore Lobo and Bishop of Asansol Cyprian Monis have lent full support to the Kendra's initiatives.
The Kendra has begun a camp at the trouble-torn Sonachura under Nandigram block since Good Friday. The camp is at present offering trauma counselling to the families affected in the violence on March 14.
Fr Sarto, who visited the affected areas along with a team comprising clergy and lay volunteers, said that most of the familes, especially children, were still traumatised after the March 14 firing and the violent incidents that followed.
Nearly 100 familes in the area have so far approached the camp for its services, Sarto said.
He said that those managing the camp have been instructed to offer "whatever protection they can" to the villagers in the event of further violence. "The police are not entering the area and the villagers are very vulnerable."
The Seva Kendra was also looking at possibilities of providing material relief to the affected villagers of Nandigram. "We approached the state relief minister, but he said his department could intervene only during natural disasters. So we are looking into what best can be done to give some relief to the villagers."