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Fear still stalks CRPF-protected Nandigram
December 09, 2007 16:07 IST
As the winter night descends on Nandigram [Images], people return to their violence-scarred homes to spend yet another night in fear.
Though the situation is returning to normal with schools, shops and markets reopening and people returning to their homes, the fear of violence is palpable among the locals.
"We are afraid to think of the time when the CRPF will leave. We are still being threatened by CPI-M cadre who often tell us how many days will the CRPF be," says a woman houses in a near-empty relief camp set up by the Bhoomi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee at the Brajamohan Tiwari High School at Nandigram town after the recapture by the CPI(M).
Her feelings are echoed by innumerable others in this trouble-torn area. Predictably nobody is willing to be quoted.
Satengabari is not within the area that was earmarked for the chemical hub planned at Nandigram but locals there had earned the ire of the CPI-M as they had protested against the use of the road in the area by attackers from Khejuri, a CPI-M stronghold, the people said.
Most people have returned home as they found life in the camps was difficult. Many children were taken ill due to lack of proper clothing and inadequate relief, she said.
But the damage done to their houses is appalling with door and window frames taken away and gaping holes in the walls, the spokesperson said. She found 19 families crammed in five houses at Satengabari as the others were no longer habitable.
Some people recounted to her that their houses had been attacked as many as three times even after they had surrendered and promised not to protest against the CPI-M.
"But we are at peace since the CRPF came," many villagers said.
"There was a woman at Tiakhali village who said that the marauders from Khejuri looted everything and even took away kerosene lamps and match boxes so that the attacked were left with no means to light a lamp and were totally destitute," she said.
Even the CRPF personnel deployed near the two villages said those who stayed back at the camp could not return as they had no utensils to cook food, she said. Shops had been attacked and looted and then claimed by the attackers, who have since launched their own businesses there, she was told.
There were complaints that even the fish in the ponds were taken away as well as fishing nets. Children said their books, too, were looted. Standing crops, however, were not touched, while men were beaten up and a number of women raped, she was told.
There were complaints of rape by the attackers and a total 27 women are said by the villagers to be missing from Nandigram since the early November violence, the spokesperson claimed.
A woman at Tiakhali alleged she was raped and her two daughters 16 and 14 years old are missing.
"Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had said the SEZ and the chemical hub would not be set up at Nandigram. Then why did the CPI-M attack?" was the question posed by several men at Nandigram.