Saturday, December 1, 2007

Nandigram victims bare scars to CBI

Nandigram victims bare scars to CBI

Sonachura, Nov. 29: Sitting on a concrete slab in Sonachura Bazaar, Dhananjay Mandal was a picture of rock-solid resolve.

The 66-year-old ignored threats from CPM cadres and stayed put for nearly four hours, waiting to tell the CBI how police bullets had pierced the chests of his son and nephews on March 14.

On seeing a convoy of cars, Mandal ran up to the sleuths, who promised to lend him an ear at a “private place”.

Inspired by Mandal, other residents of Sonachura, Adhikaripara, Mandalpara and Garchakraberia came forward in droves to give the investigators a blow-by-blow account of the March 14 firing in which 14 people were killed.

“I stumbled into a field after a bullet hit my head. A group of policemen surrounded me. I begged them, holding their feet, to take me to hospital. But they ignored my pleas and beat me up with batons,” Prithwish Das, an employee of a garment shop at Sonachura Bazaar, told the CBI.

He also showed his bruises to the officers.

Asked about threats from CPM workers, Das said: “After recapturing the area on November 12, they would often threaten us saying, ‘who will save you once the CRPF is withdrawn?’. But I decided not to keep quiet and narrate my experience to the CBI.”

The CBI has decided to open two camps in the affected areas, where the villagers can lodge complaints. “The way the people responded to us today was unexpected. They spontaneously came and shared their experiences. Initially, we had thought they would not dare come forward,” an official said.