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Nandigram shuts down over fresh firing

The trouble-torn West Bengal region is shut down in response to a call by the BUPC to protest an attack on their men by the ruling CPI (M) supporters.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2008 12:36 PM IST

Nandigram, the trouble-torn West Bengal region which flared up again on Sunday, was shut down on Monday in response to a call by the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) to protest an attack on their men by the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) supporters. Reports of sporadic clashes poured in from Monday morning.

However, East Midnapore Superintendent of Police SS Panda told IANS the shutdown evoked good response but remained largely peaceful.

Ahead of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's visit to Nandigram scheduled Tuesday, the fragile three-month peace was shattered Sunday by indiscriminate firing on members of the anti-land acquisition group BUPC, allegedly by supporters of the CPI-M. One person, identified as Debasish Mondal, was seriously injured.

The firing took place at Kiykhali near Satengabari in Nandigram, about 150 km from here in East Midnapore district.

The BUPC, which is spearheaded by parties like the Trinamool Congress and Jamait Ulema-i-Hind, claimed that several of its supporters were injured in the firing by the CPI-M men led by a villager who has been released from jail.

The CPI-M men allegedly started firing indiscriminately around 1.30 pm on Sunday. BUPC leader Abdus Samad alleged that the CPI-M men fired about 25 rounds.

Amid reports of clashes breaking out during the shutdown Monday and injury sustained by CPI-M men in a reprisal by the BUPC, Pande said: "There was no violence in the morning. No one was injured".

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) units have been deployed in Nandigram and will remain there till the panchayat elections around the middle of this year.

Reports said two more companies of CRPF would be coming in from Orissa for deployment in the troubled region.

The chief minister is scheduled to visit Nandigram Tuesday to distribute pattas (deed of rights) among landless farmers.

The official toll in the yearlong Nandigram violence over proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ) is 35.

On March 14, 2007, 14 people were killed and hundreds injured in police firing, while some women were reportedly raped.

In November, the ruling CPI-M unleashed a reign of terror to recapture the area, leaving a trail of destruction, with the rival BUPC members beaten up and women in their households allegedly raped.

Earlier, the CPI-M supporters were driven out of the area by BUPC and forced to live in camps in adjoining Khejuri, a base of the CPI-M from where they launched attacks on their rivals in Nandigram.

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