Wednesday, June 13, 2007

People forced to flee from Nandigram again

Horror replay after homecoming
- 12 flee Nandigram again

Nandigram, June 10: A leader of the CPM women’s wing, on her way back from the bazaar with a little rice and some vegetables hours after returning home, was beaten up in Simulkundu last evening.

Geeta Barui’s neighbour Nakul Barui suffered for being with her.

Sudhanshu Barui was attacked in Gokulnagar because he had set up the first shelter for CPM supporters — on Tekhali bridge.

The three thrashings and a hail of bombs scared at least nine other CPM supporters away from the two villages where they returned after days in exile.

Geeta, Nakul and Sudhanshu have been admitted to a health centre in Khejuri with fractured limbs and smashed heads.

“We crossed the Talpatti canal and fled to Khejuri,” Geeta said.

Bombs were burst outside the house of Ashish Giri, 40, and his roof was pelted with stones. His wife fled with her daughters to an abandoned cinema, where she has been hiding every night for 36 days.

Ashish was among those escorted home — to Dakshin Pally, Simulkundu — by police yesterday.

But he couldn’t spend the night at home. He was hiding in the field behind his hut. “Around 150 Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee supporters assembled at the Chandi temple last evening. Around 9.30 pm, they started hurling bombs. Brickbats kept hitting our roof. I spent the night in the field behind my hut. My wife took the girls away,” Ashish said standing outside his hut this morning.

The member of the CPM farmers’ wing has held his nerve to stay back in the village, as has his brother Atish.

A bakery hawker in Kakdwip, South 24-Parganas, Atish came home on holiday 25 days ago. He was forced to run away to a refugee camp in three days.

“Last night’s bombing continued till 2 am,” Atish said.

The Giris’ houses were looted on May 4. “I fled to the Sherkhanchowk camp after that. I used to come home around 4 am to see my family. I don’t want to do that anymore,” Ashish said.

Fourteen families had come back to Gokulnagar and Simulkundu. Four returned to Ranichak, which was peaceful till tonight.

Haldia additional superintendent Debasish Boral said three CPM supporters have lodged complaints with the Tekhali Bazar police station, alleging that they were driven out of Gokulnagar.

Trinamul leader Abu Taher, however, denied any attack or intimidation by the Pratirodh Committee. “If they don’t trust their neighbours and leave by themselves, there’s nothing we can do,” he said.

Around 70 families were supposed to return home yesterday, CPM supporter Bidhan Das said. “But only 18 could because the committee wouldn’t allow the police to accompany them and they were too scared to go home alone.”

Boycott mars return home
- CPM steps up social pressure on Trinamul families in Khejuri, keeps working on ‘options’

Nandigram, June 11: Homecoming has been anything but sweet for the CPM families in Nandigram as well as for the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee sympathisers returning to Khejuri.

If some CPM supporters were driven out of Nandigram yesterday with threats and bombs, then the 29 Trinamul Congress sympathisers who returned to Khejuri after four months on June 7 have been facing a Gandhian kind of resistance: non-cooperation.

“Ever since I returned with my family, the ruling party has ostracised us. Neighbours have been warned that they would be fined if they talk to us. Shops have been told not to sell us any supplies,” said Sheikh Golam Mohammad, 37, at his house in Balibasti village of Khejuri.

The family has been living on boiled potatoes and rice since their return, he said

Mohammad’s two shops — selling cloth and grocery — at the Burtolla bus stand have been ransacked and closed down by CPM supporters.

The family’s fault: Mohammad’s father Sheikh Kudrat Ali is the president of the Pratirodh Committee in Khejuri II block and is hiding in Nandigram.

“This is virtual house arrest. We cannot even have a cup of tea at the bus stand. They (the CPM supporters) won’t allow us to reopen our shops. No one talks to us,” said Mohammad’s 20-year-old nephew Sheikh Abdul Hasim.

On Friday, the day after nine of the 22 members of the family returned, a group of 30 CPM supporters arrived at their doorstep and warned them against any “activism”.

But the family is determined not to flee again. “They told us to join hands with them or else we would not be able to survive. But I refuse to go anywhere. Whether I live or die, it will have to be in this house,” said Mohammad’s 70-year-old mother Benja Bibi.

Their next-door neighbour, Amina Bibi, who moved in last Thursday from Nandigram, rued having come back.

“Police escorted me back. Now, I’m a social outcast. CPM supporters ransacked my tea stall and won’t allow me to run it. I went to Jonka police station yesterday to discuss the matter, but the CPM cadre who were supposed to come for the talks didn’t turn up,” she said.

About 15 km away at Kendrabacher village, 13 Trinamul Congress supporters, who had fled on February 7 and returned on June 7, also faced harassment.

“Today, as I began to till my land, a group of CPM supporters came and told me I would not be allowed to do so. My fault is that I did not seek the party’s protection and fled to Nandigram,” said Paresh Das. He stayed at a camp in Nandigram with his family for over six months.

His neighbour, Akash Sheikh, who also returned on Friday, is scared to go to the market and takes a ferry across the Talpatti canal and shops at Nandigram every two days.

“I don’t want to hear their taunts at the market. After the January 7 violence, we started an anti-acquisition movement in Khejuri. On February 7, CPM supporters attacked our houses. Every night, we fear another attack,” said Sheikh.