Villager killed in Nandigram, Mamata calls for near-shutdown


Kolkata/Nandigram : Nandigram continued to remain on the boil as a villager was killed while several people were injured in a gun battle between activists of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and an anti-land acquisition group backed by the Trinamool Congress, prompting the latter to call a near-shutdown on Oct 31.

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Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee vowed to immobilize the state on Oct 31, but stopped short of calling for a full-fledged shutdown, and threatened a more serious agitation if the “CPI-M-sponsored” violence did not end in Nandigram, the trouble-torn East Midnapore district constituency which flared up in January this year over a proposed special economic zone (SEZ).

“One person was killed in fresh violence. The number of the injured is not immediately known but several were injured,” East Midnapore Superintendent of Police G.A. Srinivas told IANS.

“The gun battle between the two groups is still raging. The situation is tense,” he said late in Saturday evening.

The Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), opposing land acquisition for industry, said the victim – 39-year-old Kaum Kazi – was its member. Kazi, who was a Trinamool supporter, died in Takapura area of Nandigram, about 150 km from Kolkata, in East Midnapore district.

“The administration is solely responsible for the death since a police camp at a Takapura school was removed despite our warning. We want immediate removal of the superintendent of police because he is squarely to be blamed for the violence,” BUPC leader Abdus Samad said.

“The CPI-M men are entering the area with full force and the police are facilitating only that,” he said.

Bengali TV channels said Debabrato Jana, another member of BUPC, also received serious bullet injuries in the gun battle.

“There were reports of firing and bombs being hurled in Nandigram,” West Bengal Inspector General (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said in Kolkata.

The incident unleashed fresh tension in Satengabari, Takapura and Bahargunge areas.

With the death, the toll in the Nandigram violence has risen to 24 since January this year when the region erupted in protests over proposed land acquisition for an SEZ, including a chemical hub, in collaboration with Indonesia’s Salim group.

On March 14, at least 14 people were killed and over 100 injured in police firing while protesting against the land acquisition in Nandigram and entry of policemen in the area.

The chemical hub planned there was finally scrapped by the state government in the face of violent protests but the region continues to be tense with the rival groups keeping the issue alive in the run-up to the panchayat elections next year.

Communist patriarch Jyoti Basu Friday said the West Bengal government will pay compensation to families of all those who died in the March 14 violence in Nandigram, irrespective of whether they were killed in police firing.