What Happened in Nandigram: An Outline
The trouble in Nandigram began with attacks on Panchayat members, administrative officials and police on 3rd. January, 2007.The following is a brief outline of what happened thereafter.
1. East Midnapur was poised to be declared as “Nirmal” district, for excellent achievements in sanitation. A central team was scheduled to visit Nandigram on 13th and 14th January for this purpose. In fact, the central team has already visited other areas of the district and watched the noteworthy success in this regard.On 3rd. January, the preparatory meeting for the visit was taking place in Kalicharanpur Gram Panchayat office. Some activists of Trinamool Congress gathered there at around 11-30 in the morning. They demanded that the land acquisition notice, served by Haldia Development Authority had to be scrapped and the Panchayat had to declare that there would be no such acquisition. Samerun Bibi, the Panchayat pradhan, refused to heed their demand. They were violent and abusive. They ransacked the Panchayat office .The Panchayat secretary was injured in their attack. The mob also pelted stones in the health sub-centre. Then only the Panchayat pradhan informed the Nandigram police station. As the police vehicle was proceeding towards the village, they were attacked by an armed mob.11policemen including 2 ASI were seriously injured. The police vehicle was torched. A rifle was also looted which was returned to police station later by TMC MLA Subhendu Adhikary. After some time another mob attacked a police car of Khejuri police station about five kilometers away and attempted to burn it. The police have not entered in the area since then.
2. The miscreants started moving with arms and began to destroy bridges and culverts linking roads. They created an atmosphere of terror. On 4th.and 5th January, they virtually destroyed every link roads and bridges with Nandigram and Khejuri. They burnt a 25KV electric sub-station too. An armed gang with firearms attacked the CPI(M) local committee office in Rajaramchawk and burnt it. Cadres of TMC and other forces roamed around and threatened CPI(M) leaders and sympathizers with dire consequences. On those two days many houses of CPI(M) workers and sympathizers were looted. .A large number of CPI(M) workers were forced to leave the villages and took shelter in a nearby camp. That the mob was armed were seen in the photographs published in newspapers too. The entire incident was meticulously plotted.
3. The ousted CPI(M) workers and their families took shelter in the camp in the southern side of the Bhangabera bridge in Khejuri area. On 6th January the miscreants of so-called Jami Rakkha Committee (a conglomeration of TMC, Congress, SUCI, Naxalite groups, Jamiat ulema-e-Hind) attacked the camp at about 3 A.M. They even prepared bunker for the attack. There was resistance from the camp and in the ensuing conflict three of the attackers died. One of them, Seikh salim was a resident of , about 12 Km-s away from the spot. It was evident that they gathered there to attack the camp in a planned manner.
4. On 7th January morning, the miscreants attacked the house of Sankar Samanta, CPI(M) Panchayat member, looted the house, burnt it. They dragged Samanta to Shitpara and burnt him alive in a haystack.
5. Bhudeb Mandal, another CPI(M) supporter was seriously injured in their attack. The miscreants left him ,assuming that he was dead. He however, regained consciousness and somehow reached to a relative’s house. Later he was hospitalized.153 houses were looted. The houses and shops of Lakhman Mandal, Sonachura Panchayat pradhan, Samerun Bibi, Kalicharanpur Panchayat pradhan, Arjun Maity, Dr, Pratap Paul, Rabiul, Annapurna Das-all CPI(M) workers were burnt.
6. Among those evicted from the villages are 2 district Committee members of CPI(M),2 local committee secretaries,6 zonal committee members,16 local committee members and 56 Party members. More than 200 families were forced to stay in relief camp or relatives’ houses Later, the number surged and more than 2000 people were ousted from the village. Their houses are looted, lands were being forcefully occupied. Hundreads of people were forced to pay ransom.
7. The attack spread to adjoining Khejuri and some parts of rural Haldia.On 7th February, 2007 a police party went in village to discuss the issues. They were attacked brutally and without any provocation. The local OC was seriously injured. .Even then the police did not retaliate and just returned back. The miscreants dragged Sadhucharan Chatterjee, an elderly police person and killed him. His body was fetched from the river after three days of search.
8. On 10th. February,Sunita Mondal,a student of class ten,was brutally murdered after torture. Her body was found in a tree,with rope tied to the neck. Her father was ousted earlier by the miscreants. The police could not enter into the village to collect information even after such an incident. The members of State Women Commission were also resisted when they tried to investigate the matter.
9. On 17th. and 18th. February, altogether 22 houses were burnt by the TMC miscreants. Many more families were forced to flee from the villages.
10.On 3rd March, one housewife (name withheld) were mass raped by a gang of TMC miscreants led by Srihari Samanta, a local TMC leader. The victim is from a CPI(M) sympathizer family and refused to join the programme of Bhumi Rakkha Cmmitte .The victim was hospitalized and her entire statement has been recorded.
11. The Chief Minister has stated categorically that there will be no forced land acquisition in Nandigram. On 9th February CM pointedly told in a public meeting in Khejuri that without the consent of the people of Nandigram nothing will be done. Later, in number of occasions in last one month, CM has stated in very clear terms that the proposed Chemical Hub would be shifted if the people of Nandigram did not accept the proposal. Even after that, there was no respite from the atrocities by Bhumi Rakkha Committee, making it amply clear that the question is not at all the “land acquisition” but a political strategy to maintain a forced acquisition of Nandigram by a combination of political forces.
12. The district administration , meanwhile called a series of All Party Meetings and peace meetings, mostly boycotted by TMC,Congress and Bhumi Rakkha Committee.The last such meeting was organized on 10th. March where representatives from Left Front partmers and BJP were present.TMC, Congress and Bhumi Rakkha Committee declined the invitation. It was decided in the meeting that the administration would move to restore reconstruction work and normalcy in the area and anyone resisting the constitutional duties would be legally dealt.
13. On 14th. March, the police entered the area after prior announcements with loud speaker. When they reached Sonachura, they were attacked with bombs and guns. In the ensuing confrontation 13 people were killed. One more person was killed in bomb injury.