Thursday, November 15, 2007

The elusive peace

NANDIGRAM, Nov. 14: Contrary to the chief minister's protestations that peace had returned to Nandigram, armed CPI-M cadres unleashed a fresh reign of terror on a number of villages in Nandigram today, forcing hundreds of villagers to flee their homes as policemen and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans remained mute spectators. CPI-M cadres also stopped social activist Ms Medha Patkar at Satengabari and forced her to return.
CRPF jawans today seized yet another landmine in Satengabari this morning and defused it with help from experts of the bomb detection and disposal squad of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Three rifles were also recovered during a raid conducted by CRPF jawans at Satengabari, police said and added that officers and jawans confiscated 153 rounds of ammunition in villages across Nandigram in the last 24 hours.
Senior Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee (BUPC) leader Sheikh Shamad alleged that armed CPI-M cadres had abducted three BUPC supporters from a relief camp at Nandigram Bazar around 12.30 p.m. today at gunpoint despite the presence of security forces. One of them, Sheikh Mujtafa had been beaten up at the Nandigram CPI-M office and released later, he said. The BUPC members have no idea about the whereabouts of the remaining two. “We have learnt about the abduction, but no onehas lodged any written complaint with us,” Mr SS Panda, SP, East Midnapore, said.
Sheikh Seikhwan, a 72-year-old man from Amgachia, said that he was beaten up brutally by the CPI-M cadres who forced him to leave his home on Saturday. A resident of Satynambar Jalpai village, Mrs Meherun Bibi alleged, her shop was burnt to ashes and she was forced to abandon her home by CPI-M terror. “I have been looking for my four sons who went missing after CPI-M attacked a BUPC rally at Maheshpur Bazar on Saturday,” the woman said.
Meanwhile, Ms Medha Patkar today visited a Nandigram relief camp where refuges narrated the tale of brutal torture meted out to them by CPI-M cadres during the party’s “Nandigram recapture operation”, which has been termed as “sunrise in Nandigram” by Mr Biman Bose, CPI-M state secretary. Displaced BUPC supporters told Ms Patkar that local administration didn’t distribute relief materials despite knowing that the refuges have been going without food since their eviction. Ms Patkar urged the administration to help the displaced people of Nandigram without considering political identity of the victims.
Ms Patkar alleged, CRPF jawans didn’t come to her rescue when she was being heckled by the CPI-M cadres at Satengabari. “Peace can’t be restored in Nandigram in true sense by deploying CRPF. A political consensus is needed to bring peace back,” said Ms Patkar. She added: “The state government has announced that peace has been restored in Nandigram. But several villages in the trouble-torn rural hamlet still remained inaccessible because of terror being unleashed on poor people by cadres of the ruling party. During my visit here, I have not seen even a single poster of any opposition political parties. This suggests that the state government has failed to restore peace here.”