Peace returning to Nandigram: Jyoti Basu

Kolkata(IANS) : Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Jyoti Basu Friday said he was happy that peace was finally returning to trouble-torn Nandigram but ruled out an all-party meeting, saying the focus should be on allowing ousted villagers to return to their homes.

“I am happy to know that Trinamool Congress-led Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) and local CPI-M leaders have met in the presence of senior administration and police officials to bring peace to the troubled area,” Basu told reporters, after attending a Left Front meeting at the CPI-M headquarters on Alimuddin Street.

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He, however, said an-all party meeting on Nandigram in East Midnapore, around 150 km from Kolkata, was not needed at present and the focus should be on facilitating the return of villagers driven out of their homes.

“Around 6,000 of our party supporters and some from BUPC are still homeless. All of them should be allowed to return to their homes,” Basu said.

“One can always follow his or her political ideology but there must not be any violence. Protests should be held democratically and not by digging up roads and blowing up bridges,” the Left Front patriarch said.

Basu said village panchayats in the area should be allowed to start work immediately.

“So far the protestors were not allowing policemen to enter the villages. Police should be allowed to do their duty. I have heard four police camps will be set up in the area soon,” he said.

The state government Thursday announced a number of measures, including compensation of Rs.200,000 each to the kin of March 14 firing victims.

At least 14 villagers were killed in police firing when they resisted entry of policemen in Nandigram March 14.

West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb also said that police would set up camps to restore peace and ensure return of the homeless.

Meanwhile, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind general secretary, Siddiqulla Chowdhury was prevented by police from going to Nandigram Friday.

“His vehicle was stopped at Kolaghat, around 250 km from Kolkata, as a preventive measure as his presence may cause breach of peace,” Inspector General of Police (law and order), Raj Kanojia, said.

The toll in violence in Nandigram has risen to 32, since January, when the region flared up over proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ), including a chemical plant.

The state government later scrapped the plan in face of stiff resistance. But violence continued unabated as a turf war between the CPI-M and the BUPC raged in the run up to the panchayat (local body) elections next year.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has appealed to opposition parties to find a political solution to the Nandigram violence while seeking central forces for deployment in the area.