Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Help on lips, hunt on ground

Help on lips, hunt on ground

Nandigram, Nov. 13: Motorcycle-borne CPM cadres zipped around villages and torched and ransacked houses last night while their leaders promised help to hundreds of Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee members who have been rendered homeless.

A man was found dead with his throat slit on the bank of the Kalinagar canal in Marishda, 10km from Nandigram proper, this afternoon.

“We are trying to find out whether he was a victim of the recent violence,” said East Midnapore superintendent of police S.S. Panda.

The body was partly decomposed and the man could not be identified.

A Nandigram police officer called it the “CPM’s duplicity” as party leaders spoke of restoring peace at a victory rally in the town.

“Armed hunters” set seven houses on fire and ransacked about a dozen. Two Trinamul Congress offices were among those attacked.

Accompanied by two CRPF companies that marched into Garchakraberia and Sonachura, The Telegraph team saw four houses that were gutted last night.

Abdul Hamid had dissociated himself from the anti-acquisition movement after the government announced no land would be taken over in Nandigram. But his house was not spared.

“We were asleep when they broke in. They poured petrol all over and though I begged them to spare us, set the house afire and fled on motorcycles,” said Hamid’s wife Ruksana.

Sitting at the refugee camp in Nandigram High School, Hamid said: “I had supported the movement against land acquisition and held a meeting outside my house. They kept it in mind.”

He had fought to protect an acre and a half he owns, but whether the family “will ever be able to live in peace in Nandigram is uncertain” now.

A woman, Hamid’s neighbour at Garchakraberia, said: “Aamra CPM party te aachhi. Aaar kichhu jigesh korben na (We are in the CPM. Don’t ask us anything else).”

“Look what they have done,” she said, pointing at Hamid’s house before rushing back into her hut with her children.

CPM flags fluttered from every rooftop in the former Pratirodh Committee citadel.

Motorcycle gangs made several rounds of the village with revolvers and swords and burst bombs before the CRPF moved in. Several villagers were threatened with death for their reluctance to shift loyalties.

“The victory is not complete for them. They want to win over people at gunpoint,” a CRPF officer said.

CPM district secretariat member Ashok Guria yesterday said CPM and committee sympathisers would be treated alike — “BUPC leaders can return home and stay in peace”.

Today, he said: “I do not know whether houses were burnt last night. I have told party members to help restore peace.”

CPM cadres broke into a mud house in Adhikarypara last night and beat up the family members. The house was deserted today. The door was open and the belongings had been ransacked. A red flag was tied to a pole near the door.

A villager who left his wife and children at a relative’s house in Haldia and came back home yesterday thinking peace had indeed returned was also thrashed at night.

“They smashed a window and broke into my house. They asked me to leave the house at gunpoint,” he said today.