NANDIGRAM: Those who took up cudgels against forcible land acquisition at West Bengal's Nandigram in 2007 and turned the tide against the ruling CPM, emerged as tormentors on Wednesday. Trinamool Congress members attacked people who protested against land acquisition for railways on an 18km stretch from Nandigram to Deshpran.
Wielding lathis, the Trinamool members pounced on agitators in front of Gholpukur primary school, leaving five injured. One of them had to be taken to Reyapara hospital with critical wounds. Mahadeb Bag, sabhapati of the Trinamool-run Nandigram Panchayat Samiti, led the charge. Those protesting against land acquisition by the railways belonged to Annadata Bhumi Raksha Committee. They demanded the railways should come clear on the compensation price and its promise for railway jobs to each of the families whose land would be acquired.
"It was a peaceful agitation where those who feared losing land were trying to send out a message to Trinamool chief," said Dilip Guchhait, secretary of the committee. Trouble broke out when local Trinamool leaders called party supporters and began shouting slogans against the agitators. "We won't allow anyone to hold meeting here against land acquisition for railways," Bag announced. The Trinamool toughs swooped on the agitators, broke benches of the local primary school where farmers held the meeting. They thrashed the agitators.
Guchhait pointed out that the "draconian" Railway (Amendment) Act, 2008, vests all powers in a person nominated by the Railway Board who can take possession of the land without a proper hearing to landlosers. Trouble was brewing at Nandigrams' Gholpukur soon after the railway notification on December 25. According to the notification, landowners should come with their voter cards, bank passbooks, original land deed and stamp papers worth Rs 200. Farmers were apprehensive at the mention of stamp papers and land deed.
Nalini Maity from Rangkinipur and owner of about four bigha land that falls in the notified area said, "I was asked to appear for the hearing with valid documents at the Contai railway office today. But, the Railways hasn't mentioned anything about compensation rates for different categories of land. Neither has the railway come clear about giving a job. I am above 60, my son is 40. I don't know if my son will get a job," Maity said.