Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, Nov. 9: In a strong criticism of the CPI-M, Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi today termed the manner in which the villages in Nandigram were recaptured as “unlawful and unacceptable” and described the area, “as the Home Secretary aptly put it, as a virtual war zone”.
Mr Gandhi, in a Press statement, said attacks on social activist Ms Medha Patkar and some other human rights activists in Nandigram yesterday “were against all norms of civilised political behaviour”. On their way to Nandigram, Ms Patkar and her associates were assaulted allegedly by a CPI-M mob at Kapasberia. He also said: “No government or society can allow a war zone to exist without immediate and effective action.”
“Those who had to flee to Khejuri must come back with full confidence and dignity.” Mr Gandhi expressed his concern over reports that Maoist rebels had entered Nandigram. He also criticised CPI-M attempts to “restrict non-political persons from carrying relief material and food for the affected people.”
The Governor said he had received phone calls today from several persons who informed him that a large number of houses were set ablaze in Nandigram.
He added that he had asked the administration to ensure safe return of the displaced people of Nandigram to their homes and give them relief immediately. “I have also asked the administration to remove unauthorised blocks at entry points to Nandigram,” Mr Gandhi said. Meanwhile, Ms Patkar today said that she would start a 48-hour fast at Metro Channel in the city from tomorrow demanding restoration of peace in Nandigram.
The CPI-M tonight criticised the Governor’s statement and said people expected “impartial” comments from him. CPI-M central committee member Mr Shyamal Chakraborty said: “The people expect impartial statements from the Governor.”
He claimed the Trinamul Congress and the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee had for the past 11 months indulged “in atrocities, looting, arson and killings and rendered 3,500 people homeless. But the Governor had remained silent on it. This is unfortunate”. Mr Chakraborty said the Governor had expressed concern about respected personalities being stopped from entering Nandigram yesterday, but had remained silent on the manner Nandigram MLA Mohammed Illyias had been dragged out of his car and
He said that many from relief camps at Khejuri had met the Governor earlier in Kolkata and given him a memorandum, “but the Governor did not show any sympathy to them or given any assurance for providing relief.” The CPI-M leader said the party would give a detailed reaction tomorrow after an emergency meeting. State PWD minister and RSP leader Mr Kshiti Goswami said his stand had been vindicated by the Governor’s statement. “Yesterday I had said in unambiguous terms that peace was being forced upon Nandigram in an undemocratic manner,” Mr Goswami said.
Trinamul chief Miss Mamata Banerjee welcomed the Governor’s statement and said that she thanked the Governor “on behalf of the people of West Bengal for the stand he has taken”.
Saturday, November 10, 2007