Thursday, November 29, 2007

School inspires more trust than force

School inspires more trust than force

Nandigram, Nov. 28: At least eight families on their way home have returned to Nandigram High School in the past two days, scared of CPM supporters and not so confident about either police or the CRPF.

Four men were allegedly picked up by the police on the way to Ranichowk village on Monday after they complained about CPM supporters encroaching their land.

A CRPF team had apparently asked the group to pull down an “illegal structure”, for a tea stall, themselves.

The group of 20 that was returning home after several days spent the night at a primary school at Giribazar and returned to the refugee camp yesterday.

The villagers said Sambhu Das, Swapan Das and Abanti Pramanik were released today, but not Amalendu Pramanik.

East Midnapore police chief S.S. Panda denied picking up four people, but confirmed Amalendu’s arrest.

A local officer could not immediately specify the charge against him.

Prakriti Das, 53, said: “When the police took away four members of our group yesterday morning, we lost all confidence and decided to return. We realised we cannot depend on the CRPF.”

He came back to the refugee camp alone, leaving wife Bulurani, 44, with a relative.

CPM supporters had allegedly beaten up the rice trader and Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee sympathiser in September. “They hit me in my leg with a lathi. I would be beaten up again if I return home,” he said.

Prakriti’s cousin Pratap, 60, described how they packed bags with clothes and utensils like cups, plates, bowls and spoons and started for their village on Monday morning.

“We took a trekker to Maheshpur and walked up to Giribazar. Not a single CRPF jawan was present at the picket there,” said Paratap.

They waited for a CRPF team to arrive and escort them to their village, a kilometre away. The jawans came three hours later, around 6pm.

“They said they can take us to our village the next morning. We spent the night without food at a primary school,” said Pratap.

Sambhu Das, who has a plot in Giribazar, thought he would take a look at it yesterday morning. He found CPM supporters setting up the structure.

Pratap said: “Sambhu complained to the CRPF jawans and they asked him to demolish the structure. The police arrived when Sambhu and three others were demolishing it and picked them up.”

CRPF deputy-inspector-general Alok Raj said a picket does not mean personnel would be posted there round the clock. “They have to go on village patrols frequently.”

The families had left home in the second week of October amid reports of an imminent CPM attack.

Pratap said: “We went to a primary school in Brindabanchowk and from there to Nandigram High School on Nov- ember 6.” He added: “I have heard from neighbours that my house has been looted and set ablaze.”

Pratap and Alpana’s sons work in Calcutta. The two daughters-in-law were sent to their parents when they left home.

The high school that housed over 1,500 homeless people until a few days ago, has less than 100 now. The main building has been vacated and classes resumed today.