People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 18, 2007
Trinamul Congress, Naxals Run Rampage At Nandigram
OVER the past nearly three months, the Trinamul Congress, aided by a host of political outfits of the right and the extreme left, and abetted by the scions of the corporate media, has been trying its worst to create a ‘free zone’ in an area of Nandigram. Roads have been cut off, bridge approaches have been taken apart, culverts have been destroyed, and all vehicles including ambulances have been stopped from moving about.
The area had assumed the shape and character of a ghost town with the lumpen elements waving guns, swords, knives, and staves running riot. They had threatened the rural populace of the area especially workers, supporters, and sympathisers of the CPI(M) and the Left Front into submission to their writ run large.
Repeated attempts to convene all-party meetings have been blatantly sabotaged by the opposition as non-starters. The Trinamul Congress supremo had spoken about a ‘bloody war’ unfolding. Incendiary speeches have been made by the opposition leaders including a few NGO leaders who are self-confessedly ‘world famous,’ and who would come and go, and they, all of them, would blackguard the Left Front and the Left Front government in the most intemperate of foul phraseology.
The train of events that led to the tragedy that unfolded subsequently must necessarily be traced back to the evening of January 3 earlier this year when based on false propaganda and vicious rumour-mongering, attacks were launched on the police and then the ferocious armed might was unleashed on the mass of the people of Nandigram, killing several CPI(M) workers, including torching alive one of them. More than a thousand families were forced to quit their hutments and live the life of uncertainty in relief camps. Even the relief camps were attacked and the families chased away.
All the while, the Left Front and the Left Front government had called upon the opposition to come to the table for threadbare discussion of whatever issue they would choose to raise. There was no response other than bantering followed by verbal abuse. The stage of siege in Nandigram locales went on relentlessly.
A few days back, the administration decided that the time had come to be by the side of the affected people at Nandigram and to undertake repair of roads, culverts, and bridges. Five people had already died because ambulances could not enter Nandigram to carry the patients to hospitals. At least one woman Sumita Mondol was raped and killed for opposing the siege-like condition prevailing at Nandigram.
On the morning of March 14, administrative officials accompanied by police personnel politely asked the agitating and armed Trinamul Congress lumpens to give way so that the repair work could start. In response, the hoodlums commandeered at gunpoint women and children and had them lined up as a barricade from behind which they started to lob bombs and brickbats on the advancing officials including the police.
ATTACK ON THE POLICE
The police retreated and then the shooting started when at least 60 rounds were fired from country-made guns and handguns causing people to run around in panic and the police, as a measure of self-defence, too, fired a few rounds, after dozens of rounds of teargas shells had failed to discourage the hardened criminals who knew their brief only too well. In the cross-fire, ten people died, three died on the spot, the rest succumbing to their injuries in nearby hospitals, where they could be taken with difficulty what with roads having been cut wide open. Several CPI(M) and Left Front supporters were shot and stabbed.
Taking malicious advantage of the unfortunate development, the Trinamul Congress almost grinning with glee, called for a 12-hour bandh in Bengal on Friday, March 16, carefully choosing a day that is followed by a week-end of official closure of business and offices. The media went on the overdrive and spoke of ‘hundreds having been killed by the police.’
Bengal Left Front chairman, and CPI(M) state secretary Biman Basu has called the incident unfortunate and has urged upon all concerned to view the happening in perspective of what had taken place over the past weeks and months. Biman Basu dubbed the bandh call as an exercise in opportunism.