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HC directs WB govt to ensure normal life in Nandigram
May 03, 2007 16:10 IST
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the West Bengal government to ensure normal life in the troubled Nandigram villages of East Midnapore district after the state submitted a status report, saying that situation there was very serious.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice S S Nijjar and Justice P C Ghose directed the government to provide ration, kerosene and other essentials to the thousands of people rendered homeless owing to continuing clashes in the area since January over a notification for land acquisition.
Observing that prima facie it appeared that the people of Nandigram have been denied fundamental rights under Article 21, the court also asked the government to ensure that they did not face any obstruction in going to markets, schools and colleges.
The state would have to provide free medical assistance to the residents of the affected area marred by sporadic violence.
The government had earlier placed a status report, conceding that situation in Nandigram was very serious and that two warring groups were fighting continuously.
During the hearing in the jampacked court room, Advocate General Balai Roy, while submitting that no SEZ would come up in Nandigram, said that SEZs were generally set up near seasides.
At this, the Chief Justice asked him in which part of the landlocked Haryana, which has the highest number of SEZs in the country, was there a seaport.
SEZs are supposed to be set up on uninhabited and barren land, the court observed.
Several petitioners pleaded for a further CBI inquiry into the Nandigram police action on the ground that the probe agency had failed to complete its work due to time crunch.
Roy submitted that the state was open to any probe including a judicial one, but not a CBI inquiry.
He said that the question of a CBI inquiry without the consent of the concerned state, on a petition by the Government of West Bengal, was at present pending before the Supreme Court.
The court had, on Wednesday, asked the state to place before it a status report on the situation in Nandigram to get a clear picture after making the CBI report public.
The CBI, in it report, said, "It would be possible to ascertain the quantum of force used and its justification and the actual happenings only after a thorough and detailed investigation."
Meanwhile, the West Bengal government, on Thursday, ruled out deployment of Army or paramilitary forces there, saying that if needed, police would enter the troubled area to restore peace.
"The government would obey the direction of the court," Home Secretary P R Roy told reporters at the state secretariat.
Asked whether paramilitary forces would be deployed in the area, Roy said the court did not give any such direction.
"The government doesn't think that deployment of paramilitary force will solve the problem or change the situation in Nandigram. Peace will not return unless good sense prevailed among the people," he said.
He, however, added that the government will take administrative steps and if required, police will enter Nandigram to restore peace.
While admitting the current tense situation in the area, Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb also ruled out the possibility of deploying the Army.
Stating that 400 families were still homeless there, the Home Secretary said that the government would take steps after the court gave its order.
The police have not been able to enter most villages in Nandigram since January when violence over a reported move for land acquisition left seven persons dead.
When police tried to enter the area on March 14, another fourteen people were killed.