College behind enemy lines
Sumanta Das (picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya) hasn’t been to his college for months. He is one of the faceless students, whose futures hang uncertain while trouble brews at Nandigram.
The March 14 police firing that killed 14 people has changed the world Sumanta knew since his childhood.
Suman — as he is called by his relatives and friends —lives with his four siblings at his uncle’s house in Brindabanchowk village, Nandigram. His parents are from Gokulnagar, about 8 km from the Nandigram block headquarters.
He is a second-year undergraduate student at Khejuri College. Since January Khejhuri is a block considered enemy territory in Nandigram and entering Khejuri is like crossing into another country.
“It’s not just political unrest now, but something worse than that,” says Suman.
Classes in his college have been indefinitely stalled. Police are posted on the college premises. Suman has lost contact with his friends. His three younger siblings,too, cannot attend their school at Gokulnagar.
Suman’s father works as a carpenter in a shop at Nimtala, Calcutta and earns around Rs 500 a month.
“On April 30, some goons from Khejuri ransacked more than 60 houses in Brindabanchowk, Keyakhali and Satangabari. They belonged to the CPM. Nothing was left behind, not even my Madhyamik marksheet,” he alleges.
“Earlier the villages were so safe. Now we don’t feel safe even during day. How do you expect me to continue a normal life?” The family does not even have enough money to buy food, he adds.
All political parties force villagers to attend meetings at times. Even teenagers are not spared. “I understand my responsibilities, but I have lost all hope,” Suman says.
His dreams of appearing for the School Service Commission examination after his graduation, lie scattered. “It will take more than a year to get back to normal life. But I don’t know whether we can go back to our studies at all,” he adds.