Villagers cry for peace in Nandigram
After a long turf battle that has lasted 11 violent months, villagers here now want to live in peace with their families.india Updated: Nov 15, 2007 13:43 IST
After a long turf battle that has lasted 11 violent months, soldiers in this resistance hub against forced industrialisation are now hopelessly shattered and uprooted from their homes. Now, the only thing they want is to live in peace with their families.
"We never took part in any political gathering. We used to earn our livelihood by farming. We never waged any war against the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) activists but we did refuse to give up our land for the chemical hub," said Khudiram Pramanik of Ranichak.
He is one of the many forced to live in relief camps after being driven out of his home in the latest upsurge of violence in this East Midnapore area that has seen 34 people being killed since January over protests against the proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ).
The state government scrapped the plan later in the face of stiff resistance by villagers who declined to give their land to the authorities.
Since then a turf war between the CPI-M and the Trinamool Congress-led BUPC had raged, with armed CPI-M supporters the aggressor and apparent victor in the latest round in which at least four people were killed.
"We don't want any more violence in Nandigram. The CPI-M cadres torched and ransacked our houses at Ranichak and Satengabari. They also forced our relatives at gunpoint to join their party and take part in their rally," Pramanik told IANS.
The entire Nandigram police station area was cloaked in red after the CPI-M's weeklong operation "cleansed" the area of rival groups.
Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) supporters fled in thousands after their houses were burnt. In many villages BUPC supporters switched allegiance to the CPI-M overnight to save their lives.
"It's true that they have recaptured our land in Nandigram, crushing villagers, but they could not break our morale," BUPC leader Abdus Samad said.
The tales of intimidation and fear are many.
"We managed to flee with my son. The CPI-M activists attacked our family on November 5 and got hold of our land at gunpoint. They ransacked everything and set our houses on fire," said Gita Barua of Takpura, who took shelter at a relief camp with her only son.
Over 2,000 people have taken shelter at the Nandigram BMT Shikshaniketan relief camp. A community kitchen has also been started to serve the homeless villagers.
"We want to go back to our homes peacefully but armed CPI-M cadres are preventing us from entering our villages. We don't know how long we will have to stay here in fear," she said.