Peace talks to end Nandigram violence on May 24


Kolkata : West Bengal's ruling Left Front and the main opposition Trinamool Congress, after weeks of slugfest, arrived at a consensus Saturday to hold the much-awaited all-party peace meeting on May 24 to restore normalcy in trouble-torn Nandigram.

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The meeting has been scheduled at Mahajati Sadan here to end the ongoing Nandigram crisis where at least 21 people died since the January flare-up over a special economic zone (SEZ).

The date was finally fixed after senior Left Front leader and West Bengal Forward Bloc (FB) secretary Ashok Ghosh met Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee at the Bloc's state committee office, Hemanta Basu Bhavan, here.

"We have called an all-party meeting on May 24 at Mahajati Sadan to discuss with an open mind how to solve the Nandigram imbroglio and restore peace there. We would request all senior leaders from different political parties to participate in the talks," Ghosh told a press conference here.

He said the Left Front would be informed in detail of his discussion with Banerjee.

"We always welcome peace process to restore normalcy in Nandigram. But we also want punishment of the perpetrators of the mayhem of March 14 in Nandigram," said Banerjee.

In the meeting, she also demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry to end their investigation process into the March 14 police firing.

Earlier, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front had arrived at a consensus to hold an all-party meeting at the state level to initiate peace process in Nandigram.

At least 14 people were killed and over a hundred injured and several women raped during a police operation in Nandigram on March 14 to establish an administrative control in the area that was inaccessible to cops after a flare-up in early January over a proposal to set up a SEZ, including a chemical hub, in collaboration with the Salim Group of Indonesia.

In January, six people were killed in clashes between the CPI-M men and the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), a platform of opposition parties and bodies including Trinamool Congress, the Congress and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind.

Thousands of people were rendered homeless since the flare-up and they were living in camps.

Shootouts, bombings and arson between rival groups continued in Nandigram as part of battle for control of villages claiming one life April 29.