Statesman News Service
NANDIGRAM/KOLKATA, Nov. 10: A day after the Governor’s call for an end to violence, killings continued unabated in Nandigram today as armed suspected CPI-M cadres fired bullets indiscriminately at a peace rally organised by Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee (BUPC) at Maheshpur in Nandigram today. In the surcharged atmosphere in the area and lack of access thanks to road blocks put up by CPI-M supporters, it was impossible to confirm the death toll. While unconfirmed reports put the toll as high as 35 with bodies being fished out of a canal, police would confirm only two persons, including a woman, having lost their lives and at least 13 others having been injured.
Eyewitnesses said thousands of BUPC supporters, who were driven out of their homes in the past 72 hours by armed CPI-M cadres, brought out a rally from Sonachura around 10 a.m. this morning demanding restoration of peace in the trouble-torn villages. Residents of Maheshpur, Tarulbari, Baranagar, Gokulnagar, Adhikaripara, Tekhali Bazaar, Brindabanchowk and several other villages took part in the march. When the rally reached Maheshpur, armed CPI-M cadres allegedly fired indiscriminately at unarmed BUPC supporters killing Sheikh Rezaul (35), a resident of Bojabari village and Shyamali Manna (40), a housewife from Gokulnagar, on the spot and injuring 13 others. Policemen present at the spot reportedly remained silent spectators, allowing the CPI-M activists to complete the operation smoothly in half-an-hour. BUPC leader Sheikh Sufiyan claimed that at least 35 persons had been killed in the firing. “We have seen 14 bodies being taken to the CPI-M’s Sherkhanchowk office in rickshaw vans by CPI-M cadres. The remaining bodies were later dumped elsewhere.” He further alleged that as many as 30 BUPC supporters, who had received bullet injuries, had been abducted by CPI-M goons.
The CPI-M men allegedly fired at ambulances ferrying injured persons to Tamluk district hospital and a hospital in Nandigram. “We were able to rescue 13 people and rushed them to Nandigram hospital. Five of them ~ Mr Ashis Pandit, Mr Goutam Das, Mr Jadav Maiti and Mr Tapas Khatua ~ were shifted to Tamluk district hospital in a critical condition,” Sheikh Sufiyan said.
BUPC leaders alleged that nearly 200 persons have gone missing following the firing. Those who failed to escape were to a house near Maheshpur and Khejuri college and beaten up by CPI-M men. CPI-M men also attacked BUPC supporters who took out another procession from Bhangabera this afternoon. CPI-M-hired goons fired at unarmed people from Tekhali Bridge. The attackers ransacked shops owned by BUPC supporters at Sashigunge Bazar. Here too, policemen on duty remained mute spectators. Later in the day, BUPC supporters gheraoed Nandigram police station alleging inaction. Policemen allegedly resorted to lathicharge in which few persons, including women were injured. BUPC leaders alleged that more than 80 armed CPI-M cadres were hiding in Maheshpur Bazar, Amgachia primary school and Galnagar primary school.
Mr Raj Kanojia, inspector general of police (law and order), said two persons, including a woman, were killed and 17 others injured in today’s firing. Asked to comment on alleged police inaction, Mr Kanojia said policemen had been gheraoed at Nandigram police station, which had kept them from reaching the spot.