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More violence in battleground Nandigram

Police fire in air after clash with villagers, CPM office set ablaze, reports Sujit Nath.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2007 06:47 IST
Sujit Nath

A day after six persons were killed in Sonachura village, Nandigram remained tense. The police made an attempt to enter the troubled zone and were greeted with brickbats and threats. To disperse the mob, they fired several rounds in the air. IGP Arun Gupta said, “The instruction to fire was given after the villagers became agitated.”

On Monday morning, more than 100 villagers had gathered near the Haldi river to protest. They started shouting slogans as soon as they saw the policemen, calling them “agents of the state government who never came for our help during the attacks”. In no time, the situation had turned volatile after a section of villagers hurled stones at the police, injuring some of them. The angry mob also set a CPI-M party office on fire.

Sonachura wore a deserted look with very few people venturing out. In the morning, some villagers erected a memorial for those who were killed in the mob violence.

The government made another attempt to restore peace, this time by holding an all-party meeting along with the local administration. But that too fell flat as the Trinamool Congress and Congress walked out to protest the arrest of a Congress activist. “We walked away following the arrest of Khokon Sith. He was harassed at the police station,” said Milan Pradhan, a Congress activist. However, the police claimed he was one of the people who had instigated Sunday’s killing in Sonachura.

But before the walkout, those who attended the meeting, including Tamluk District Magistrate Anup Agarwal, managed to take some decisions. “Four things were decided — to allow policemen to enter the village, to repair the roads, not to allow any political party to set up camp within five kilometres of the proposed project site and to hold another all-party meeting before the land acquisition,” said Trinamool MLA Sishir Adhikari.

The political drama did not go unnoticed. Sonachura resident Balaram Das said: “We know they had a meeting with the local administration but that won’t help us. We have lost our hope and trust in them and we will fight alone.” Going by the mood of the villagers, the trouble will not end any time soon.

In another incident, this time in Gelingam, activists of the Save Farmland Committee scuffled with CPM cadres. The activists were protesting the Ruia Group’s proposed shipyard in the area. Some people were injured as both sides hurled bombs at each other.

In New Delhi, the Congress said it was “disturbing” that the CPM cadres who allegedly clashed with local farmers on Sunday were armed with sophisticated weapons. “Their AK-47s obviously cannot be licensed,” said AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh.

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First Published: Jan 09, 2007 06:47 IST