Nandigram flares up yet again


Kolkata/Nandigram : Fresh violence broke out in troubled Nandigram in West Bengal Sunday as Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) supporters and a Trinamool Congress-backed group clashed while taking out separate processions.

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Police used batons to disperse the clashing mobs, East Midnapore Superintendent of Police G. Srinivas told IANS.

Both the CPI-M and the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), which opposes government takeover of farmland for industry, had taken out processions when the fighting occurred.

The CPI-M supporters were celebrating the party's win in the Haldia municipal elections while BUPC wanted to surround the Nandigram police station.

Reports from Nandigram said 26 people who were injured were admitted to hospital. Srinivas, however, said only five people had sustained injuries and one bomb was hurled. He said there were no reports of firing.

"The situation is now under control," Srinivas said as tension gripped the area.

BUPC leader Abdus Samad said the CPI-M procession had ended peacefully. But when BUPC began marching, CPI-M workers hurled bombs at them.

CPI-M leader Ashok Guria, however, alleged that BUPC men attacked their party office, triggering the clash.

The BUPC has now called a 12-hour Nandigram shutdown Monday to protest against the latest violence. It said CPI-M men fired from Khejuri, a stronghold of the party and where most CPI-M supporters of Nandigram are now sheltered in camps.

"We will surround the Nandigram police station on Aug 1 to protest the firing," said Samad.

"The latest violence is because of comments made by Haldia MP Laxman Seth who dubbed the verdict in Haldia as a mandate for industrialisation and hinted at eyeing Nandigram again for an industrial complex," a BUPC supporter said.

Haldia is an industrial town close to Nandigram where the communists are planning to relocate the chemical hub that was originally planned in Nandigram triggering the saga of violence and killings.

The Left Front won the civic body elections held this month under the shadow of the violence in Nandigram.

Meanwhile, CPI-M patriarch Jyoti Basu said he was concerned over the latest reports of violence. "Nandigram is still violent and the peace process has to make headway," he said.

At least 22 people have been killed, hundreds injured and several raped in Nandigram in protests since January against the special economic zone (SEZ) and a chemical hub planned there in collaboration with Indonesia's Salim Group.

Following the violence, the SEZ plan was scrapped but thousands of people belonging to both the CPI-M and the BUPC have been living in camps.

The all-party talks to start a peace process in Nandigram and facilitate the return of terror-stricken villagers to their homes have not yielded much success.