Friday, November 16, 2007

Return Fine in Nadigram: reports from The Telegraph and The Statesman

The Telegraph

Cadres slap Nandigram ‘return fine’
- New homeless allege demands to pay money and obeisance to Red flag

Nandigram, Nov. 15: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s “boys” have not just been paying back opponents in their own coin. They are also taking hard cash, according to the new homeless in Nandigram.

Local CPM workers have ordered their homeless rivals to pay a “fine” of Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 if they want to return, supporters of the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee told The Telegraph today.

This is apart from the “red flag” they have to plant near their door and joining all CPM processions to demonstrate their support for the party.

Four days after the CPM’s bloody recapture of all the Nandigram villages, misery has returned for BUPC supporters in another form: a “jarimana”.

The fine depends on the area of the land they owned.

“My wife, who is all alone at Daudpur, has told me how CPM cadres threatened her saying I would have to pay a fine whenever I return,” said Rabiul Islam Khan.

The 64-year-old’s only son Rahul is still hiding at his in-laws place in Chandipur.

With his wife also informing him that the cadres had warned of “stern action” once the family returned, the former employee of Duckback company said he had decided against going back.

“Buddhadebbabu key bolben, aamra aar bari phirtey chaai na,” he said, alluding to the chief minister’s repeated assertion that BUPC supporters will be persuaded to return.

“Besides, there have also been reports of how the cadres have been beating up those who have dared to return. At night, they move around with faces covered. You think I will return under these circumstances?”

Local CPM leaders refused to comment on the “return fine” or the other conditions imposed by party cadres, saying there might be some “hiccups”.

Rabiul isn’t the only one who has made up his mind not to return. It’s the same story across parts of Brindabanchowk, Roynagar, Jalbunia, Takapura, Gokulnagar and Adhikaripara — areas that till a few days back were BUPC strongholds.

“On Wednesday, CPM leaders held a meeting at Takapura where they said I would have to pay Rs 1.5 lakh if I wanted to come back. My fault is I was a key hand in organising the BUPC movement in that zone for the last 11 months,” said Sheikh Sahauddin.

“Forget administrative moves, if you ask any of the homeless here, they would all tell you how they are dying to return home but won’t. Move around and you will know why.”

In his mid-30s, Sahauddin had joined people like Rabiul and others in the fight to protect the land their forefathers had handed down. While some took part in active protests through the Trinamul Congress-backed BUPC, others remained silent sympathisers.

Now, days after what CPM state secretary Biman Bose described as a “new sunrise”, they live in a situation where fear reigns and return means switching allegiance.

“The other day, a gang of supporters barged into my chamber and went on a rampage for over four hours from 3pm and then left us homeless. If I have to return, I will have to participate in CPM-led processions and even ensure that the red flag always flies atop my house,” said Dr Imadul Mohammed of Daudpur.

Today, the SDO of Haldia, Sankar Halder, convened an all-party meeting to ensure the homeless could return. BUPC members boycotted the meet, saying the committee was not invited and that bike-borne cadres were still spreading terror across Nandigram.

Sheikh Sohidullah, the CPM’s local committee secretary for Nandigram, said the party wants people to return home. “The CPM has always advocated peace in Nandigram and now that it is back, it’s time normality returned. If people are facing any problems, the party will look into it,” he said.

Not many are convinced.

The Statesman

It’s all just fine in Nandigram!

Rajib Chatterjee
NANDIGRAM, Nov. 15: Pay money, if you want to stay in your home or face the consequences. This is the dictum of the CPI-M cadres in Nandigram who have now started imposing fine on Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee supporters (BUPC) instead of driving them out of their villages. Those who failed to pay were forced to leave their homes.
Sheikh Mosu, a resident of Osmanchowk village, was instructed to pay Rs 10,000 as fine for supporting the BUPC. He was driven out of his villages after Mosu, who works as a daily wage earner, expressed his helplessness. “Now I’m staying in the relief camp. They (CPI-M men) have threatened to kill me if I dared to enter the village. They told me that fine must be paid, otherwise I wouldn’t be allowed to stay home,” said Mosu. “Mr Prajapati Jana, a resident of Garchakraberia, is in trouble. CPI-M cadres allegedly ordered him to pay Rs 10,000 to stay home or face the consequences. He has been running from pillar to post to collect the money,” said Sheikh Sufiyan, a BUPC member.
The condition of Mr Lakshman Maity, a resident of Subanichowk, is somewhat the same. He was ordered to pay Rs 30,000 to stay home. The offence of Mr Jana and Mr Maity is that they supported the BUPC’s movement, said Mr Sufiyan.
Mr Sriram Chandra Mondal, a resident of Sonachura, came to the relief camp today. “Local CPI-M men drove me out of my house on 11 November as I failed to pay a fine of Rs 30,000. I came to the relief camp after persuasion failed.”
Many others like Mr Mondal and Mosu had to leave their homes after they failed to pay up. They are so scared that they didn’t even go to police. “The matter has been brought to the notice of policemen, but they remained silent,” said Mr Sufiyan. The BUPC leader said Mr Manas Maiti and Mr Bhaja Maity, two residents of Daudpore, who had returned to their homes this morning came back to the relief camp in the evening. “They were beaten up after they expressed their inability to pay Rs 30,000’’, said Mr Sufiyan.