Monday, December 10, 2007

CRPF denies harassment

CRPF denies harassment

Calcutta/Tamluk, Dec. 9: The CRPF today said charges of harassing villagers in Nandigram were “baseless and fabricated”.

CPM supporters have been crying hoarse against “harassment” by the central force almost since it landed here on November 12.

Most of those arrested by the CRPF initially were CPM supporters.

A week ago, party supporters stopped governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s convoy at Tekhali and demanded that the CRPF be withdrawn.

“There is no basis for the allegations. If anyone has a specific problem, he can come with a written complaint. But no one has turned up with any specific charge so far,” said Alok Raj, the deputy inspector-general overseeing the force’s activities in Nandigram.

A CRPF official expressed surprise that no such charge had been levelled against policemen with whom the paramilitary was conducting joint raids. R.K. Sharma, the commandant of the CRPF’s 190 Battalion, said: “We are accompanied by local policemen whenever we conduct raids. But no one is blaming the police.”

He acknowledged the inevitability of some of the complaints. “If we raid houses, it is normal that the occupants will not take it easily. It does not mean we harass people.”

The CRPF and the police have picked up 21 people in joint raids over the past two days in connection with criminal cases, including murder, loot and arson in Nandigram during the land war.

The police said Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee and CPM supporters were part of that list. “We’ll arrest every one against whom specific complaints have been lodged,” said East Midnapore superintendent of police S.S. Panda.

The CBI has hung a notice at its camp in the Nandigram college requesting villagers to come forward with inform-ation on the March 14 police firing.