Friday, August 8, 2008

Violence in Nandigram again

Nandi road dug up, again

Tamluk, July 21: Trinamul supporters dug up the arterial road linking Khejuri with Nandigram town this morning, hours after a clash with CPM supporters at Bhangabera.

The digging, a throwback to last year’s land war, was at the same place where Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee supporters had cut a trench last year. The road, 500m from the Bhangabera bridge across the Talpatti canal, had been repaired in March 2007.

A large police team arrived at Bhangabera during the clash last evening and resorted to a baton charge. Trinamul supporters then surrounded Nandigram police station, accusing the police of firing at them and other “atrocities”.

As the police had entered the village from the Khejuri side, the Trinamul-led committee dug up the road. Several village roads were blocked with logs. “We had to block the entry of CPM cadres and the police from Khejuri. They had jointly planned the attack and taken that route last evening,” said committee convener Abu Taher.

Trinamul now holds the Sonachura gram panchayat. Its new head, Nishikanta Mondal, supported the dig-up.

Guns blaze across Nandi canal

Tamluk, July 29: After a night-long gunfight across the Talpatti canal that divides Nandigram and Khejuri, some 50 Trinamul Congress supporters fled their homes in CPM stronghold Sherkhanchowk.

The trouble started last evening when Trinamul supporters in Khejuri’s Sherkhanchowk and adjoining areas organised a procession with the help of the party unit at Gokulnagar in Nandigram. That was the first Opposition procession in Khejuri in 15 years.

CPM cadres allegedly hurled bombs to disrupt the procession. From 9pm, gunshots were fired and bombs hurled from both the CPM and Trinamul sides of the canal.

Gauranga Hazra, 48, crossed the Tekhali bridge and fled to Gokulnagar this morning.

“After winning all 10 gram panchayats in Nandigram, we had gathered the courage to organise the rally,” said Gauranga, now hiding in a bakery.

East Midnapore police chief S.S. Panda said: “These are small incidents.”

Police attacked in Nandigram

Tamluk, Aug. 4: A police patrol was allegedly attacked today by Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee activists in Nandigram, where CPM supporters and their rivals traded bullets and bombs.
Around 7pm, when the exchange of fire intensified in Jadubarichar, supporters of the committee stopped a police jeep and asked the cops to accompany them to the trouble spot. When they refused, the activists allegedly smashed the jeep’s windshield, Nandigram OC D. Chakraborty said.

Bike gang kills CPM leader in Nandigram
- Masked men pump bullets into schoolteacher from point-blank range

Tamluk, Aug. 6: A CPM leader in Nandigram was shot dead from point-blank range at Kendamari when he was returning home this evening.

Niranjan Mondal, 55, a schoolteacher and secretary of the CPM local committee at Rajaramchowk, was on a bicycle when four masked men on two motorcycles intercepted him about 500 metres from his house and shot him.

He died on the spot.

The CPM has alleged that Niranjan’s murder was the handiwork of Maoists and the Trinamul Congress.

“It is typical of Maoists to target CPM leaders and finish them off. Now that the CRPF has left Nandigram, the Trinamul is providing the Maoists shelter,” said Ashok Guria, the East Midnapore secretariat member of the CPM.

Niranjan’s murder comes a day after a CPM local committee secretary in Sonachura, Joydeb Paik, was shot at.

Superintendent of police, S.S. Panda, was at Joydeb’s house in Sonachura when he was told of Niranjan’s murder. But it took him four hours to reach the spot, only 10km away, because Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee activists had dug up the roads in five places.

Panda had to leave his jeep in Sonachura and he reached Kendamari, travelling part of the distance on a motorcycle and the rest on foot, at 8pm. “We are yet to establish the motive behind the killing. We are probing the Maoist angle,” he said.

Kendamari, which is Trinamul dominated, is not as violence-prone an area as Sonachura or Garchakraberia.

This was the second murder of a CPM member in Nandigram after the panchayat elections in May.

Eyewitnesses said when Niranjan was returning home around 4pm, cutting across a field on his cycle, two motorcycles sped towards him. They stopped near him and the miscreants shot Niranjan several times. “Niranjan babu slumped to the ground in a pool of blood,” said a villager.

Niranjan is survived by wife Amala, a former pradhan of the Kendamari gram panchayat, and three sons.

The police said the body was taken to Tamluk district hospital for post-mortem. Niranjan had bullet injuries in his head and abdomen.

The pratirodh committee has denied a hand in the murder. “Niranjan Mondal fell victim to an intra-party feud,” said Abu Taher, convener of the committee.

Subhendu Adhikary, the Trinamul MLA from Contai (south) said his party had nothing to do with the Maoists.

The CPM trained its guns on governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who had criticised the March 14 firing in Nandigram last year. “I want to know from the honourable governor when he will visit the homes of our slain and injured comrades in Nandigram,” said Shyamal Chakraborty of the CPM.

The party has called a 24-hour bandh tomorrow in Nandigram, Khejuri and Chandipur.

The pratirodh committee has also called a 12-hour bandh in Nandigram tomorrow.

Guns & fear stalk Nandigram again
- Bullets fell another CPM leader

Nandigram, Aug 7: Guns boomed in Nandigram today, killing a CPM leader a day after a party local committee secretary was shot dead.

A bullet hit Dulal Garudas, a Gokulnagar branch committee member, in the chest as he was walking in a CPM procession in support of today’s 24-hour bandh called to protest the killing of Niranjan Mondal yesterday, police said.

Dulal was hit at Chandar Pool. The spot is 4km from Sonachura, a stronghold of the Trinamul-led Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee until the CPM’s recapture of the area last November split the control evenly between the two groups.

“The bullet that killed Dulal was fired from the Trinamul-dominated areas of the village (near Chandar Pool). He was in a procession when he was hit,” said inspector-general (western range) Kuldeep Singh.

The trouble began when CPM cadres allegedly kidnapped a 60-year-old man after they couldn’t find his two sons, pratirodh committee supporters, at their Sonachura home. Sribas Mondal was found in a bush 8km away this evening, unconscious and bleeding. As word about the kidnapping spread, pratirodh committee activists chased the CPM workers with revolvers and pipe guns, leading to a fierce exchange of fire.

Villagers claimed Dulal was helping the red brigade from Khejuri, a CPM stronghold, spot the houses of pratirodh committee supporters, not walking in a procession.

“We saw Dulal with the CPM cadres this morning in Sonachura identifying houses belonging of Trinamul and pratirodh committee supporters,” said Debu Pramanick of Sonachura, whose house was allegedly looted by the cadres.

A pratirodh committee supporter, Sheikh Sofiar, 65, was injured in another shootout, near Garchakraberia.

The alleged rampage by the cadres occurred while the villagers were demonstrating before a Sonachura camp of the India Reserve Battalion. They accused the 20-odd jawans of staying cooped upside the camp when gunshots were fired and bombs hurled from Khejuri.

The jawans argued they weren’t “properly equipped”. In Calcutta, home secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti seemed to suggest the role of suspected Maoists in the flare-up.

“Maoists were active till some time back in the region. I have to find out if they are still there. If necessary, I will personally visit Nandigram to assess the situation,” he said this evening.

Mamata Banerjee demanded the return of CRPF, suggesting the force’s withdrawal was responsible for the fresh trouble.

Families flee, bike gangs back on prowl

Nandigram, Aug 7: Sudarshan Pradhan couldn’t sleep last night, jolted by the sound of gunshots and bombs.

This morning, the 59-year- Sonachura widower woke up to a bomb lobbed in front of his mud-walled house. What followed was worse. “Twenty men armed with revolvers, bhojalis (daggers) and sticks barged into my house and threatened me with dire consequences if I didn’t join CPM. They took away my clock, transistor and bicycle,” said Sudarshan, a Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee supporter.

Sudarshan’s two sons, Bimal, 35, and Subal, 30 had fled last night. After the threat, Sudarshan left, too. He was among the 100 Sonachura pratirodh committee supporters to have fled today.

Armed CPM cadres on bikes prowled Pratirodh Committee clusters, looting and ransacking a dozen houses. Among their targets was the house of Sribas Mondal, whose kidnapping triggered the gunbattle near Chandar Pool and led, as police said, to the death of CPM leader Dulal Garudas.

“Ten people came and demanded my husband Joydeb and his brother Dhananjoy be handed over. When my father-in-law protested, they took him away on a bike,” said Jayanti, 30, Mondal’s daughter-in-law. Sribas was later found unconscious in a bush in Garupara, 8km away. Mondal’s wife Ritabala, 55, and her other daughter-in-law, Gita, 26, and their five children fled to relatives in Southkhali, 2km from Sonachura.

The fleeing villagers met inspector-general Kuldeep Singh at Sonachura Bazaar but he denied looting and firing. Furious, the villagers gheraoed Singh and other officials.