Marcus Dam & Vinay Kumar
Landmine blasts point to Maoists, says CPI(M)
KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: There was sporadic violence again in the Nandigram area of West Bengal on Wednesday. It involved activists of the Trinamool Congress-backed Bhumi Ucched Pratirdoh (Resistance against Land Eviction) Committee and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The State Government said some of those who had left their villages following violence had started returning.
The death toll in the violence on Tuesday that had spilled over from the previous night had risen to four, Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said. He mentioned reports of one more death.
But Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee claimed that 22 persons had died and that several bodies had been thrown into the Haldi river. There were reports of houses being set on fire and bomb-throwing between rival groups.
Roadblocks were set up in parts of Kolkata and in the districts following a call by the Trinamool Congress for a stir, leading to disruptions.
Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi called Mr. Ray and Director- General of Police A.B. Vohra to the Raj Bhavan. He was told of steps being taken to tackle the violence.
“There was no major violence in Nandigram during the day and many have started returning to their homes, though there are others still unable to do so,” Mr. Ray said later. Three days of violence has resulted in a fresh exodus, and nearly 2,000 people are still away from their villages.
Mr. Ray had no information about the arrival of Central forces for deployment, as sought by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who spoke to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil.
The Left Front leadership renewed its call to re-initiate the peace process through discussions between political parties. Left Front Committee Chairman and CPI(M) State Committee Secretary Biman Bose hoped “that peace could return in the area through a negotiated settlement.”
Veteran leader Jyoti Basu said the Left Front had asked the Chief Minister to put off the deployment of central forces given the situation. If required, he would call Ms. Banerjee “one hundred times” for talks to explore ways to restore normality.
In New Delhi, the CPI(M) expressed concern at the recurrence of violence in Nandigram, and said the West Bengal Government should ensure the induction of the Central security forces to restore normality and peace.
In a statement, the party Polit Bureau said an alliance of political forces had occupied the area and physically driven out all those who were identified with the Left.
“Under the guise of the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Samiti, the Trinamool Congress and some other forces have combined to maintain their sway in the area. In order to achieve their aims they have ganged up with the Maoists who have brought in armed squads from outside West Bengal,” it alleged.
The Maoists’ role, the Polit Bureau said, has been exposed by the landmine blasts that took place on Tuesday.