Thursday, May 22, 2008

Poll won, fear of cadres persists

Nandigram, May 21: Mamata Banerjee may have swept East Midnapore but over 1,000 Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee supporters who had fled home after CPM cadres threatened to bash them up are scared to return home.

Malati Das of Simulkundu said: “The CPM supporters came to our house frequently before the elections and said they would pick their targets selectively if they won and beat every one of us if they lost.”

The 40-year-old widow had fled home with her two sons and a daughter on May 12, a day after the polls here.

Around 500 people from Simulkundu, Sonachura, Southkhali, Satengabari, Keyakhali, Gokulnagar and Gangra have taken shelter in the block development office.

Malati said she was “happy that the CPM had lost” the East Midnapore zilla parishad.

“But that doesn’t mean we can return home immediately. The CPM has told us they will beat us up even if they lose. Who will provide us with security?” asked Malati.

Many in the camp had fled home before the polls. But they returned home on the eve of the elections after CRPF deputy inspector-general Alok Raj arrived in Nandigram and promised a vote without fear.

Raj left Nandigram a day after the polls and the villagers had to leave home again in the face of renewed threats.

Gourhari Das, 32, a farm labourer in Gangra, had fled before the polls with wife Purnima, 25, and son Somnath, 3.

“The CPM workers severely beat up my husband because he was writing Trinamul graffiti and looted our house. We returned home from the block office on the night of May 10. But we had to flee again two days later,” said Purnima.

She was in tears when she said she could not find any milk for her son for days as there was virtually no relief.

Like her, Purnima Maity, 35, of Brindabanchowk was overjoyed to learn about the Trinamul triumph but apprehensive about what lay ahead.

“Police are inactive and CPM leaders have threatened us with dire consequences. An atmosphere of terror and panic prevails in the village,” she said.

The district CPM leadership denied the charges. “Allegations that CPM workers are threatening and beating up villagers in Nandigram are baseless,” said district secretariat member Ashok Guria.

Nandigram I block development officer Shantiram Gorai said: “We’ll take an initiative to escort them home after the counting process is over.”

Until that happens, the community hall in his office would be home to hundreds. There are no relief materials at the camp because the leaders are busy with the polls and the administration is bound by the code of conduct.

An official said no relief could be provided until the elections were over.

See Also:

Bargain chips for Mamata
Takeover attempt takes toll in Nandi
Image of party that ‘terrorises’ hurt
‘Surprised’ CPM swears by industry