Eight people, not 14, were killed in police firing, says Buddhadeb

Former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said on Saturday that the police action in Nandigram in Purba Medinipur district during the erstwhile Left Front regime was not to acquire land forcefully but to put a check on Maoist activities in the area.

His remarks are significant in the wake of rebel Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman claiming on Friday that Maoists were part of the Trinamool Congress-led front that opposed land acquisition in Nandigram and had helped the party to come to power in the 2011 Assembly elections.

Addressing a public rally at Chandipur near Nandigram in the district, Mr. Bhattacharjee said that soon after the protests from locals against setting up industry in the area, the then government came out with a notice categorically mentioning that there would be no land acquisition. Stating that there were reports that the Maoists came from Lalgarh in Paschim Mednipur district and even outside the State, had stocked up arms and were giving training to people, he said that State Government was forced to send police to control the situation.

“Eight people, not 14, were killed in police firing at Nandigram. Six others were killed in violence, thereafter,” he said, adding that after the incident it became difficult to explain the people what government wanted.

“We wanted to transform Nandigram into another Haldia,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said, pointing out that since the incident there had been no development in the lives of people over the last few years. “Not a single industry has come to the State after the new government has come to power,” he said.

Ridiculing the claims made by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for providing five lakh jobs to youth in the State, he said that not even five jobs were given to people by the government. “All the institutions created bit by bit by the Left Front government are being destroyed by the State Government,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said referring to the agrarian crisis and the dysfunctional panchayats in the State.

Reiterating that the politics of Trinamool Congress was creating a communal divide, he said policies like giving honorarium to Imams were helping the Bharatiya Janata Party gain ground in the State and indulge in its “politics of mandir and masjid”.

Mr. Bhattacharjee urged the people to organise movement against proliferation of chit funds in the State and said that the Left Front government has made changes in law to restrict their proliferation.