Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Serves them right: CM

Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, Nov. 13: “Those who ruled Nandigram for the past 11 months were paid back in same coin,” an upbeat Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, chief minister told reporters at Writers’ Buildings today. The recent bloodletting leading to the "recapture" of Nandigram could have been avoided, he felt, had the Centre sent the CRPF contingents earlier.
The delay in deployment of Central forces had made the cadres, raring to return home, desperate, the CM said. “Our people (meaning cadres) were desperate to return home. They risked their lives, resulting in casualties. The official figure till date stands at four dead and 11 injured,” he said.
Mr Bhattacharjee, who repeatedly referred to the plight of “our people harassed, killed and evicted from their homes in the past 11 months”, had to be reminded that he happened to be the chief minister of the people opposing his party in Nandigram as well. “Yes. I am. That's why I am appealing to everybody to go back home,” came the reply.
When pointed out that a section of media felt that so much exhortation for peace had brought to Nandigram the peace of a necropolis, Mr Bhattacharjee shot back: “Was heavenly peace prevailing in Nandigram for the past 11 months?”
He acknowledged the role of foreign minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee in sending the CRPF but couldn’t help being sarcastic about Mr LK Advani’s visit there: “Good that Mr Advani used a car and not a rath on his way to and back from Nandigram. I thank him for it.”
The CM faced dissidence in his own backyard as a large section of Writers' Buildings employees marched in silence to protest against the atrocities in Nandigram. The CM met Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi in the evening. Earlier in the day, the chief secretary, home secretary and the DGP submitted their reports to Mr Gandhi. When asked whether he found the failure of the administration to check the violence in Nandigram as embarrassing, the CM said: “In a sense yes. It would have been better if the state police and CRPF could bring the situation under control.
That would have been possible if I could have deployed CRPF and EFR together earlier.” He feigned ignorance of the dismantling of a police camp off Tekhali Bridge ~ something that had helped CPI-M cadres enter Nandigram.
He dismissed the call for his resignation by a section of intellectuals and artists saying: “It is my misfortune. They would surely change their mind.” He termed their demand to put off the Kolkata Film Festival as “illogical”and reiterated that state and central intelligence agencies had evidence that Maoist leader Ranjit Pal and his team from Jharkhand had been present in Sonachura and Garchakraberia and that they had been heavily armed.
“The Maoists were in the area till yesterday. CRPF jawams have seized mines and rifles.” Earlier in the day, the home secretary said he had no reports of Maoists being arrested or identified in Nandigram. The chief minister apprised the PM of the situation in detail when the latter called him while he was on his way to meet the Governor.