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Home > News > PTI

Nandigram: Scare still looms large

January 06, 2008 15:30 IST

A year after seven people were killed in clashes between pro and anti-land acquisition agitators in Nandigram, locals are apprehensive that the relative peace that prevails will vanish once the CRPF is withdrawn.

The CRPF is scheduled to be posted till February 12, but CPI-M supporters are demanding their withdrawal before that date accusing it of committing excesses.

The government, however, has ruled out advancing the date of CRPF's withdrawal. But locals have expressed fear that after its scheduled date of withdrawal there is a fair chance of anarchy and violence returning to the area.

Leaders of the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee want the CRPF to stay till the panchayat elections in May to prevent any poll-violence and rigging.

Despite Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee's repeated assurance that no land would be taken over for setting up a chemical SEZ at Nandigram [Images], people still fear that the government will still try to push through the chemical hub.

The unrest in Nandigram started ever since the Haldia Development Authority through a notification on December three, 2004 had included under its jurisdiction 401 mouzas of land.

But it was only in August, 2006 that the fear of the people of losing their land emerged into an organised protest-movement with the birth of 'Krishi Jami Raksha Committee'. The members of that organisation organized deputations before various administrative departments demanding withdrawal of the notification.                                                      

The tension started, after the chairman of the HDA, Lakshman Seth, announced in a meeting at Nandigram on November 11, 2006 that 14, 500 acre spanning 27 mouzas would be acquired to set up industry.

The residents made a violent demonstration when a notice for acquiring land was put up at Garchakraberia bazar and at Kalicharanpur gram panchayat office on January three, 2007.
When the police intervened, the agitated people clashed with the security forces. As clashes between pro and anti-land acquisition activists took place almost daily, the police could only watch helplessly from the CPI-M "controlled" Khejuri village.

On January 6, the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee took shape to spearhead the movement against forcible land acquisition.

With the battle lines drawn between the polarized villagers, arms flowed freely into the region. Gun-shots and sounds of bomb explosions became a regular feature which forced peaceful people to leave their villages.

Under these circumstances, the police made a determined bid on March seven, 2007 to restore order in order to facilitate a smooth take-over of land. As it came under sustained brick-batting at Adhikaripara, Sonachura and Bhangabera, the police opened fire killing 14 people.

As a howl of protest greeted the controversial firing by the police, the security forces laid low while Nandigram virtually burned. A complete chaos and anarchy prevailed with shooting and bombing becoming a day-to-day affair.

In early November, CPI-M supporters raided the villages and "recaptured" them from anti-land acquisition supporters.
Amidst a hail of protest, the CRPF was deployed on November 12 to maintain peace in the area.

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