Monday, December 10, 2007

‘Witness’ widow supports CPM grave claim

‘Witness’ widow supports CPM grave claim

Ramnagar (West Midnapore), Dec. 9: The family members of a CPM supporter have claimed that they saw his and four other bodies being placed on an unlit pyre at the spot where the mystery graves were found in Khejuri last week.

The account — by a mother and a widow — is the first public statement by a victim’s relatives that seems to corroborate the CPM version that the graves were of five party supporters who died in a blast on the night of October 27.

“The funeral pyres had been set up on a field by the road. Around this time, Seema felt sick and fainted. I was not feeling well either. We were taken to a party office from where we returned home the same night,” Gobinda Singh’s mother Malati said, sitting in the courtyard of their thatched house at Ramnagar village in West Midnapore’s Belda.

But why did Gobinda go to Khejuri, 50km away?

His wife, Seema, said he had a friend there. “He (Gobinda) told me about the trouble in Nandigram and mentioned his friend, who had fled home and was staying at a relief camp in Khejuri. He went to see his friend on October 24. On October 28, the party informed us that he had died in a bomb attack.”

On October 29, the Singhs left for Khejuri in a hired Tata Sumo. One-and-a-half-year-old son Akash, brother Kanai, father-in-law Prafulla and Malati accompanied Seema, 23. The local CPM branch committee secretary, Paltu Charan Das, and panchayat pradhan Pagal Singh also went.

“On October 30, Kanai identified the body at Tamluk Hospital and it was brought to Khejuri along with four other bodies of CPM supporters,” said Seema.

The five men killed in the explosion at Sherkhanchowk on October 27 were believed to have been making bombs. Sunil Bar, 45, Bachan Das, 24, and Gobinda, 37, died on the spot. Gour Das, 24, and Srimanta Das, 35, died in hospital later.

The four apart from Gobinda were from Gokulnagar, about 10km from Khejuri.

The police suspected that the graves found in Bamunchowk were of these five men. But the families of the four from Gokulnagar gave contrad-ictory statements to the CRPF.

Bachan’s widow Kabita told the CRPF initially that she was present during her husband’s funeral but changed her statement later. Sunil’s widow Sharmila could not identify the spot where her husband’s pyre was lit.

Seema has not yet been grilled by the CID, which is probing the bones that were dug out about 40km from where the blast took place.

Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee convener Abu Taher said she was not telling the truth. “If the body really belonged to Gobinda, why was it not taken to Ramnagar for cremation? The bones found are of our many missing supporters.”

Malati said they wanted to bring Gobinda’s body back to Ramnagar. “But it was decomposed and party men told us to cremate the body in Khejuri.”

Why were the last rites conducted in the field?

Malati said: “We went to the shamshan at Pankhai. Arrangements for the cremation were almost complete when suddenly heavy firing started from the Nandigram side. The CPM supporters with us suggested it would be wiser to move to a safer place.”

The CID has asked the police for information on those who identified the bodies in hospital, those who took them away and claimed to have witnessed the funeral.