Thursday, May 24, 2007

Displaced villagers relive camp trauma

Statesman News Service
HALDIA, May 15: Peace talks hope to end months of turmoil in Nandigram. But the question of resettlement of displaced villagers of the conflicting sides has not been answered.
The CPI-M has claimed that more than 1,000 supporters from troubled areas of Nandigram have been living in the camps on the Khejuri side, while Trinamul Congress said at least 50 families fled from Khejuri to the Nandigram side, fearing assault from CPI-M goons.
After the anti-land agitation flared up in Nandigram, many CPI-M supporters deserted their homes to seek shelter in Khejuri’s CPI-M camps.
Since then, the CPI-M has been complaining of oppression on their supporters by Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee members. But BUPC leaders denied the allegations of the ruling party and said the movement in Nandigram has been a spontaneous people’s movement.
“We assure safe return of CPI-M supporters to their villages, but they must not spread tension in the area again,” BUPC leaders said.
Recently, 45 CPI-M supporters who live in the Sherkhanchak camp of Khejuri, returned to their villages in Nandigram. Most of them do not want to recall the bitter experience of the camps.
Mr Anil Hazra, (name changed on request), a villager of Brindabanchak, said: “We had to join the rallies and patrol the border areas on the Khejuri side along the Talpati canal everyday. We were given one meal of rice and dal each day, while there was a separate arrangement for leaders and armed men.”
Another CPI-M camp inmate of Khejuri said: “I was forced to stay back in the camp because the leaders threatened us. Somehow, I managed to send my wife and children to a relative’s house as I did not find the camp safe enough for them.”
A senior Trinamul Congress leader of the district said: “We have been told that many women were sexually harassed by CPI-M activists in the camps and their supporters urged us to do something to end the tyranny.”
He added: “There has been CPI-M’s jungle rule in Khejuri for the last decade. Once their terror in Khejuri stops, peace will follow in Nandigram.”