Peace is a distant dream in Nandigram
Fear and distrust are the keys of this volatile belt of East Midnapore district, reports Arindam Sarkar.Updated: Apr 13, 2007, 21:13 IST
"A man was nabbed on Friday morning at Sonachura Bazar. A resident of Tekhali, the man was caught by the villagers after he was recognised as a member of the Harmat Bahini (armed CPI (M) cadres) who had participated in the mayhem of March 14 at Nandigram that left 14 dead and several missing.
After being beaten up severely by the villagers, the man confessed that his company had killed five and raped three women on that day. Soon the order came from the leader of the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee to break his limbs and then hand him over to the cops. No one would disclose his name.
One thing is clear this was in retaliation to the brutal treatment given to 28-year-old Sahadeb Hazra who had crossed over to the CPI(M) territory to buy things from Ananda Bazar at Khejuri situated across the Bhangabera Bridge over Talpati canal few days back."
One month after the Nandigram massacre, peace is still a distant dream here. Fear and distrust are the keys of this volatile belt of East Midnapore district.
And villagers said that in the last one month around 20 people have been beaten up badly for crossing over to the CPI(M) stronghold at Khejuri. Also, four women were given a similar treatment by the CPI(M) cadres and now they are admitted in the Tamluk Hospital.
Fearing a backlash from the Harmat Bahini (armed CPI(M) cadres) for having lost the battle of March 14, the villagers and those belonging to the Trinamool Congress-led Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee have again dug up (they had filled it up two weeks back) huge craters to cut off major transit roads and bridges of Nandigram.
And the logic is: police is there to protect the CPI(M) cadres, so they have to depend on themselves to survive a CPI(M)'s bloody backlash.
Fuming after the defeat and rollback into their barracks on March 14, the CPI(M) leaders and the cadres camping along the border of Nandigram and Khejuri are biding their time to get inside Nandigram to open their party offices and fly their red flags in every village from where they have been driven out.
That things are not right here could be seen the moment one drives down Khejuri towards Sonachura (the battlefield where 14 people were killed on March 14) village of Nandigram. Thousands of red flags along the road and atop the buildings hit your eyes. They stand to as prove that one is in a CPI(M) controlled zone.
But reach the Bhangabera Bridge that has been cut-off from Sonachura and you find the red flags vanishing. And in their place, it is the Trinamool flags that are furling everywhere. Sonachura, Dabgra, Gokulnagar, Kalicharanpur, South Khali and Gorchakraberia in Nandigram are some villages where the CPI(M)'s red flags have been uprooted.
Ever since March 14, the CPI(M) leaders of Nandigram have left their villages and are now staying in the camps of Takapura, Andabad, Ranichak, Nandiogram II block situated along the Khejuri-Nandigram border.
"But peace has not returned in Nandigram. Because every night we see Harmat Bahini throwing bombs and firing long-range rifles from Khejuri towards the villages located along the border," said Gokulnagar's Sabuj Pradhan, who fought on March 14 against the Harmat Bahini.
For the last one-month, for 30,000 people living in over 1,000 villages along the Nandigram-Khejuri border it has been a nightmare.
Every day when the sun sets, villagers of Sonachura, Shahebnagar, Satkhanda, Narsinghaber, Pankhai, Sherkhanchok, Kedarabar, etc, leave their homes, situated beside the Talpati canal, to spend the night in open fields. They finish their chores by 6.30 pm and then all the members of the village gather and go to the fields to pass the night.
"This is our daily routine. Women fear that if they stay inside the houses, they become an easy prey to Harmat Bahini in case of an attack. The men divide themselves into groups of 20 and pass the night patrolling the 8 kms border that stretches from Sonachurajalpai to Maheshpur village," said Shankar Das of Sonachura.
The villagers allege that though there are more than 4,000 cops located at various sensitive points of Nandigram, they have lost all faith on them. According to the villagers the cops are mere spectators and they do nothing to stop the firing and bombing during nights.
"Despite police postings, our children out of fear couldn't go out of Nandigram to take the HS examinations. At least 250 of the students have lost a year because the state government and the police have failed to restore peace here," said SK Sufiyan of Nandigram.
So what is the solution? The villagers have demanded from the administration that all directly and indirectly involved in March 14-mayhem should be arrested.
All those innocent villagers picked up by the police on March 14 and kept inside Tamluk Jail should be released and the villagers of Sonachura and Khejuri kept hostage by the CPI(M) cadres should be allowed to return home.
"Till then, Nandigram would remain isolated and an independent island because it has lost faith in the government and does not trust the CPI(M)," said Abu Taher of krishi Jamin Bachao Committee.