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Why Nandigram turned into a combat zone?

The Sunday clash between the villagers owing allegiance to Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee and the armed CPI(M) cadres that left two dead and three serious injured by bullet shots, reports Arindam Sarkar.

kolkata Updated: Apr 29, 2007 18:31 IST

The Sunday clash between the villagers owing allegiance to Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee and the armed CPI(M) cadres that left two dead and three serious injured by bullet shots at Nandigram was just not another political clash.

In fact, there are three definite reasons that triggered the gun battle at dawn on Sunday in Bengal’s most trouble-torn area of Nandigram in East Midnapore district.

The bloody clash between 300 armed CPI(M) cadres and 5,000-odd villagers armed with slings and innovative bamboo spears wouldn’t have occurred had the district CPI(M) not decided recently to contain Mamata and the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee movement against the State government’s decision to grab lands for industries in Nandigram.

Secondly, the clash would have been averted if egged on by Mamata’s speech at Garchakraberia at Nandigram on April 24 to hold her next public rallies at CPI(M)-controlled Khejuri and the industrial hub of Haldia – 60 km from Nandigram – the Save Farmlands Committee leaders not decided to expand their base outside Nandigram to the other Assembly segments of the district.

And finally, the bloody clash was inevitable as the 2,500 CPI(M) supporters forced out of Nandigram since January middle had been putting pressure on the party leaders to send them back home as they have to reap the Boro harvest of vegetables and rice from their fields before the monsoon begins.

So far, the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee led by the Trinamool Congress had occupied Sonachura, Kalicharanpur, Kendamarijalpai Mohammadpur, Gokulnagar and part of Bhekuti in Nandigram, where Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had initially planned to set up his chemical hub by acquiring lands from the farmers.

But Mamata’s public speech on April 24 asking the villagers to hold on to Nandigram, expand their movement to other areas to save the farmers from losing their lands to industries and hold public meeting at Haldia on May 21 unnerved the CPI(M) district leaders.

“Recently, the CPI(M) district secretariat members have agreed that Mamata and her bandwagon should be kept limited to Nandigram and should not be allowed to disturb the industrial environment of Bengal. And on Saturday, the Nandigram Zonal Committee members of the CPI(M) decided to launch fresh political movements outside Nandigram to create pressure on the miscreants operating inside,” said CPI(M) District Secretariat member Ashok Guria.

So far, the CPI(M) cadres were regularly firing and blasting bombs along the border of Khejuri II (located south of Nandigram) towards Sonachura to terrorise the villagers. But now they have decided to open another front to put pressure on the people of Nandigram.

On Sunday, the CPI(M) cadres opened attack from Baharganj (located west of Nandigram on the Khejuri I and Khejuri II border with the Nandigram II block). And they moved inside Ranichawk, Dakapura, Samsabad, Satangabari, Jambari and Brindabanchawk of Amdabad I and Amdabad II areas of Nandigram II.

And eventually, the pitched battle between CPI(M) cadres and the villagers was fought for four hours from 6 am at Birulia which is few km from Daudpur – part of proper Nandigram I now under the control of the Bhumi Uchched leaders.

“This has boiled down to fight for political control of areas by Trinamool Congress, but they will not succeed,” said Ashok Guria.

Having established its sway over five anchals in Nandigram I, the Bhumi Uchched is now eager to expand beyond the neutral belt of Nandigram II that has so far remained violence free. The CPI(M) has watched quietly as the Bhumi Uchched expanded beyond Nandigram I to Satangabari, Amdabad I and Amdabad II in Nandigram II block after March 14 massacre in Nandigram.

“What is bad in that? After the successful battle of March 14, villagers of adjoining blocks of Nandigram asked the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee to set up bases there to thwart the CPI(M) land grabbers. Now over 10 sq km of Nandigram II is controlled by Bhumi Uchched. And today the villagers fought to prevent the CPI(M) from opening another front at Nandigram,” said Bhumi Uchched leader and Trinamool District president Sisir Adhikari.

And finally, off late, the CPI(M) district leaders have been facing intense pressure from the 2,500-odd party sympathisers who have been driven out from Nandigram. Though living in the camps at Khejuri, these CPI(M) supporters have been telling their leaders to help them to get inside as they need to reap their Boro crops before monsoon.

“If they do not get inside now, what do they eat for the next six months? They have to take home from the fields the vegetables and rice they have sowed. The Boro crop has matured and this morning, 600 villagers tried to force their way inside Nandigram from Amdabad I and the miscreants wouldn’t allow them to get in, so the clash,” said CPI(M) Zilla Parishad Sabhadipati Niranjan Sihi.

First Published: Apr 29, 2007 18:29 IST