Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Roads in Nandigram dug up again by the villagers to keep out the police


Nandi dig-up before CM trip

Nandigram, March 3: The road to a Nandigram village was dug up after almost a year today to keep police away as Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee and CPM supporters clashed, injuring many.

Tomorrow, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is going on a public relations drive to Nandigram town, 8km from Bachhurmari, where the committee resumed cutting trenches.

A mob beat up CPM supporter Sheikh Akram in the village this morning, accusing him of being part of a gang that had attacked committee supporters in Chowringheebazar, 3km away.

A police officer said: “Some 200 villagers, many of them women, surrounded our jeep when we went there. We were forced to turn back.”

After the police returned, villagers cut up the road leading to the ferry ghat.

Pratirodh Committee convener and SUCI leader Bhabani Das said: “The villagers feared a police retaliation.”

Akram is in hospital.

The police said the situation had been tense since morning because of a Nandigram bandh called by the committee in protest against yesterday’s violence in Satengabari. Its supporter, Debashis Mondal, had taken two bullets.

No government establishment opened. Block land officer Ratan Lal Jana said preparations for the chief minister’s trip were shifted to the Tamluk district office, 60km away.

Bhattacharjee will distribute pattas (tilling rights) to landless farmers.

“We took all relevant documents relating to the plots to Tamluk and completed our work there,” said Jana.

In Calcutta, home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said jawans of the India Reserve Battalion who had been moved to north Bengal from Nandigram will return soon.

Around 9am, a Pratirodh Committee procession heading to Nandigram police station encountered CPM supporters who were asking traders to open their shops at Chowringheebazar.

An altercation snowballed into a clash about 5km from Nandigram police station. Eleven people were injured.

Four committee supporters are in hospital. “Sheikh Subetullah, Sheikh Kalamutullah, Sheikh Sahauddin, and Abdul Rauf have been referred to Calcutta as their injuries were serious,” another police officer said.

Local resident Asraf Mallik, 45, saw CPM supporters trying to “force shops open” and “those in the procession resisting them”.

“I was caught in the battle and hit on the head,” said As- raf, at the Nandigram health centre.

At Satengabari, committee activists attacked the house of CPM supporter Sheikh Tahid, 35, and beat him up. Tahid had allegedly shifted loyalties after the CPM’s Nandigram recapture in November.

Led by Trinamul Congress MLA from Contai (South) Subhendu Adhikary, committee supporters demonstrated in front of the police station and accused the CPM of unleashing attacks on them.

East Midnapore police chief S.S. Panda said: “Nandigram has seen trouble for nearly a year. It will take some time to become normal. There were clashes today but the situation is under control.”

Pratirodh Committee supporters first dug up Nandigram roads in January 2007. The same method was applied to keep the police away from villages in the committee’s stranglehold up to March 14, when the police stormed the area. Fourteen people were killed.