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Who did what in Nandigram?
November 14, 2007
The happenings of the past 10 months in Nandigram -- that once obscure hamlet of the hinterland of West Bengal, which has now begun hitting headlines in world media -- do not lend themselves to any clear appraisal of the situation. Nobody knows for sure who did what there. It is impossible to arrive at any objective, unbiased answer, or to sift fancy from fact. All that one is able to see is the festering sore it has become.
Heavy doses of political animosities, ideological fixations, journalistic speculation and plain and simple sensation-mongering are vitiating any proper understanding of what went right or wrong. And this is amazing considering that this is the era when mobile phones, chat-rooms, laptops and television cameras are equipped with every kind of technological device to lay bare all that goes on in every nook and cranny of the country.
Who kick-started the ding-dong battle of making refugees of villagers driven out of their homes and 'recapturing' the villages, in the process converting Nandigram into a No-Man's Land at times and a 'war zone' (as described by the state home secretary) at other times?
One can only presume that there would have been a constant flow of information of all sorts to West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, from official and unofficial channels as well as from the numerous visitors and representations he must have been receiving. Whether being in possession of such information is what left him with no other option than to give public expression to his anguish and jolt the state government into reconciliatory and remedial action is a moot question.
This was what would have been a spontaneous overture in the olden days. When there were widespread language disturbances in Assam involving the Assamese and Bengalis and when the South burnt during the anti-Hindi movement, Indira Gandhi [Images] and Lal Bahadur Shastri instantly flew to the two states and brought the situation under control, by reaching out to the people with their soothing response.