Buddhadeb urges political solution to Nandigram violence


Kolkata : West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya Monday appealed to opposition parties to find a political solution to the Nandigram violence, ruling out immediate deployment of the army to bring the situation under control.

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“We have categorically said almost 10 months ago that no land would be acquired in Nandigram for industry, but the clashes continued. So why and for whom is this violence continuing? This is a political fight right now, we need a political solution and so I appeal to the opposition to resolve the dispute through talks,” Bhattacharya told reporters here.

“We can deploy the army but I think the solution should be a political one and through talks. There should be a political will to solve the issue,” he said at Writers’ Buildings, without naming Trinamool Congress, one of the constituents of the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), the group fighting the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) there.

Although the state government has scrapped the proposed industrial complex and chemical hub in Nandigram, violence continues in the run-up to the panchayat elections in the middle of next year.

“We are ready to talk with the opposition on all issues, including withdrawal of cases, compensation and separating Nandigram from the Haldia Development Authority (HDA) jurisdiction as raised by the opposition,” Bhattacharya said.

“I have, however, asked for more reserved police forces from the centre. I have spoken to Home Minister Shivraj Patil and already sent him a requisition letter,” he said.

At least five people, including four members of the CPI-M, were killed in renewed clashes and an explosion in Nandigram, located 150 km from here in East Midnapore district, since Saturday.

This takes the death toll to 28 since January when the region flared up over a proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ), including a chemical hub.

“Violence started in Nandigram Jan 4 onwards and we had said in February that there would be no acquisition. But all developmental work has stopped in Nandigram area and even the block development officer (BDO) cannot function in blocks I and II of Nandigram. The people of the area are suffering,” he said.

“At least 1,500 CPI-M supporters, including women and children, are living in camps under difficult conditions, exposed to monsoon, winter and diseases. The police cannot move and Naxalites (Maoists) are setting up base in Nandigram.”

Bhattacharya said that Maoist leader Ranjit Pal, one of the accused in the killing of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MP Sudhir Mahato, is living in Nandigram.

Asked how arms and ammunition was reaching Nandigram, Bhattacharya said: “It is a difficult terrain there for the police. One side is the Bay of Bengal.”

Amid reports of sporadic gun battles during the night, a 12-hour shutdown called by the CPI-M was observed Monday in five blocks of Nandigram and adjoining Khejuri and Chandipur areas.