How the Marxist Cadres and goons teamed up to ‘liberate’ Nandigram

Tathagata Bhattacharya

The Haldi river bordering Nandigram is quiet and in mourning. On November 5, six battalions of armed CPI (M) cadres surrounded Nandigram in East Midnapore. Their mission: to ‘recapture’ villages from the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) – a Trinamool Congress-led front against land acquisition for the proposed special economic zone (SEZ).

The cadres were armed with AK series rifles, INSAS rifles, SLRs, .303 guns and bombs. Three of the battalions were sourced from West Midnapore’s Garbeta block, three to four hours from Nandigram, and were led by its local committee secretary Sukur Ali. The other three battalions were from the West Midnapore’s Chandrakona region, three hours from Nandigram, and were led by its district committee member Tapan Ghosh. Both Sukur and Tapan are wanted by the CBI in a case relating to the burning alive of seven anti CPI(M) activists in Chota Angaria.

Each battalion had around 100 men, including dacoits and criminals from Bankura and South 24 Parganas. They were paid in advance for ‘Operation Nandigram’, and given a free hand to loot the villages, CPI(M) sources said. The ‘operation’ was reportedly finalized at a meeting between a member of Parliament, a state cabinet minister and zonal and local leaders in Khejuri, a CPI(M) stronghold, at the guest house of the Kolaghat thermal power plant.

BUPC activists wielding antiquated weapons, mostly muskets, fought back. The cadres ran out of ammunition, and were forced to withdraw momentarily. But fresh supplies arrived through the waterways, and the battle resumed. Soon BUPC activists ran out of ammunition. The cadres took twelve to thirteen villages in two days, bringing most of West Nandigram under their control.

Opposition leader and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee alleged that the cadres used the official launch of the district magistrate of South 24 Parganas to ferry arms and ammunition to their stronghold in Khejuri. Earlier, West Bengal home secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy had commented, “Nandigram is a war zone and the attacks are happening from Khejuri.” West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi dubbed the ‘capture’ of villages “unlawful and undemocratic”.

On November 10, around 30,000 unarmed BUPC activists took out two processions to regain control of their land and homes; while one procession, of people who had taken shelter in camps in the block headquarters, marched from Nandigram to Maheshpur, another moved from the Sonachura village bordering Khejuri in the same direction. The two groups were to meet at a point and move to Tekhali bridge. On the way, cadres surrounded them and sprayed them with bullets. The official death toll was put at three, with 20 injured; but witnesses said the toll was higher.

“The CPI(M) men carried away the bodies on vans towards Khejuri. Even the injured were not spared. Over 500 people were marched off to Khejuri,” said a processionist. The Khejuri police rescued about 350 men – some of them were by then badly beaten up – from various schools in Khejuri. Many others, including some young women, were missing. In Satengabari village, a 40-year-old woman and her two daughters, aged 14 and 17, were raped. The woman was admitted to Tamluk hospital.

In Egra, which is around an hour’s drive from Nandigram, a crowd intercepted two vehicles carrying injured people from Nandigram in the evening. The Egra police arrested at least eight CPI (M) cadres. While Sukur and Tapan were among those held, the police changed their names. However, when they were produced in court, they gave their real names when photographs were produced.

The rampaging cadres took Sonachura, Garchakraberia and Osman Chak, Kendemari and Hosenpur – the centers of BUPC’s resistance in Nandigram Block I. Thousands of villagers fled to the camps in the block headquarters. By evening of November 11, the ‘occupation’ was complete.

Further, armed CPI (M) mobs stopped Mamata Banerjee from reaching Nandigram. The village was ‘out of bounds’ for the media, as all entry points – through river and land – were blocked. Even the CRPF men were turned back on the night of November 12.

Reports came in from Nandigram that after Sukur and Tapan were captured while trying to ferry the injured, CPI(M) cadres had changed tactics – many of the dead and the half-dead were being burnt in the brick kilns of Khejuri. Reports of gangrapes, too, have been coming in.

Sparks, claims and dissenting voices marked the aftermath. CPI (M) state secretary Biman Bose called the Governor’s remarks unconstitutional and questioned his intellectual credentials. “Peace has been restored” in Nandigram, he said, adding that it was a “new sunrise”. Prominent CPI (M) and CITU leader Shyamal Chakraborty said, “Nandigram is now a liberated zone, free of terror. What is needed now is development.

RSP minister Kshiti Goswami was ashamed. He told THE WEEK: “only the communists are capable of something like this, especially those dictated by Stalinist ideology. I have sent a letter to the RSP secretary, asking the party to let me resign. I don’t feel like being a member of this government.”

The violence drew flak from civil society. On November 12, a spontaneous bandh paralysed normal life in the state. Nothing moved. Even software engineers were not complaining. Many boycotted the Kolkata International Film Festival – which, interestingly, featured quite a few films on state repression.

Courtesy: THE WEEK, November 25, 2007

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7 Responses to “How the Marxist Cadres and goons teamed up to ‘liberate’ Nandigram”

  1. asit guin 8 September 2013 at 3:23 PM #

    5 yrs after her son died in the march 14, 2007 Nandigram incident, Firoza Biwi, Nandigram MLA asked industry minister the question on industrialization in Nandigram. It was Nandigram and Singur that put TMC to power. TMC had converted Nandigram into a samshan. The people are not against industry. But it is too late. In Nandigram, one police officer sadhucharan Chattopadhyaya was killed in the month of February 2007. In the month of March, 14 farmers died in police firing. So policeman was eliminated first, road was dug, panchayet leader sankar Samanta was eliminated, Maoists were very much present in Nandigram with weapons and providing training. Police firing was unfortunate, but it has occurred as an effect of many other unfortunate incidents occurred beforehand. Already sill commission told that dinhata police firing is ok. So, what is wrong with Nandigram firing? Can the present govt or any govt arrange rasagullas for road-diggers?

  2. asit guin 23 November 2013 at 7:27 PM #

    Here is the Success Story of Panchayat Raj during LF days in Nandigram under the leadership of sankar Samanta. INDIA CAN FIND INSPIRATION FROM THIS local SUCEES Story. Successful models when replicated can accelerate improved sanitation across the whole area. The first block in the country to achieve 100 per cent sanitation was Nandigram-II in Bengal. By 2003, all the households in the block had been furnished with toilets, which improved both the community surroundings and health. Ram Krishna Mission, with LF government and UNICEF support, set up a local production and supply Infrastructure. This arrangement not only supplies inexpensive sanitary materials, it also props up local livelihoods. After following this example statewide, sanitation coverage in Bengal has increased to over eighty per cent.

  3. asit guin 30 November 2013 at 5:25 PM #

    Nandigram Police firing: पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री बुद्धदेव को क्लीनचिट

    कोलकाता/ब्यूरो। नंदीग्राम में पुलिस फायरिंग की घटना में सीबीआई ने पश्चिम बंगाल के पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री और माकपा के वरिष्ठ नेता बुद्धदेव भट्टाचार्य को क्लीनचिट दे दी है। वर्ष 2007 में 14 मार्च की घटना में हाईकोर्ट ने 17 मार्च को सीबीआई जांच कराने का निर्देश दिया था। तब पुलिस की गोली से 14 जनों की मौत हो गई थी।
    मौजूदा ममता बनर्जी सरकार ने सीबीआई से प्रकरण में भट्टाचार्य की भूमिका की जांच की मांग की थी। सीबीआई ने राज्य सरकार को बताया कि घटना में भट्टाचार्य का हाथ होने का कोई साक्ष्य नहीं मिला है। सीबीआई ने रिपोर्ट राज्य सरकार को भेज दी है। सीबीआई ने बंगाल सरकार से घटना के दौरान तैनात 12 पुलिस व प्रशासनिक अधिकारियों के खिलाफ कार्रवाई की सिफारिश की थी।
    इनमें से तीन के खिलाफ सीबीआई ने राज्य सरकार से अकारण गोली चलाने के लिए चार्ज लगाने की अनुमति मांगी थी। अन्य नौ के खिलाफ कड़ी कार्रवाई की सिफारिश की गई थी। सीबीआई के संयुक्त निदेशक अरुण बोथरा द्वारा भेजी गई रिपोर्ट की राज्य का गृह विभाग जांच कर रहा है।
    माना जा रहा है कि राज्य सरकार यह रिपोर्ट कानूनी सलाह के लिए विधि विभाग को भेजेगी। सरकार फिलहाल किसी पुलिस अधिकारी के खिलाफ चार्जशीट पेश करने की इजाजत देने में जल्दबाजी के मूड में नहीं है।

  4. asit guin 25 January 2014 at 4:18 AM #

    In the investigation of the Nandigram police firing, CBI found involvement of TMC. No evidence has been found that CPI (M) had infiltrated police & fired at innocents. Neither have they found any evidence of ‘trawler’ filled dead bodies ‘smuggled’ out of Nandigram. CBI failed to find any remains of slaughtered children. The story that emerges out of the two charge-sheets filed by the CBI in the Haldia Court on the events of 18th March, 2007 is completely different from what the Congress, Trinamul party, a section of the intellectuals & the press had campaigned. It was this vicious campaign that galvanized the public opinion against the 34 year LF govt. There were two incidents of shooting that day, Bhangabera Bridge & Gokulnagar. CBI has submitted two separate charge-sheets. What emerges is that there were armed miscreants hiding behind the assembled people, mainly women & children. They had fired on the police. The incident at the Bhangabera Bridge has 129 accused, four of them deceased. The first name on the list is one Ashok Mondol, a resident of Sonachura & Trinamul worker. His elder brother, Ajay Mondol was a Trinamul candidate in the Panchayat elections & has become a Panchayat Samiti member. There is Subodh Patra, TMC candidate for the 2003 Panchayat polls from Sonachura. Accused no. 116 is Sonachura resident Rabin Mondol, a local TMC leader. He had played a big role in the year long terror & anarchy in that region. The key protagonist of this campaign, Krishnapada Mondol, is a TMC worker & relative of TMC leader, Nishikanta Mondol. Other accused, Rashbehari Khara, Prasenjit Karon, Gobinda Paik, Shankar Dalapati, Raghunath Dolui, Satyaranjan Manna, Lakhikanta Gayen, Robi Das are all known Trinamul workers & leaders. The list in the other charge-sheet on the Gokulnagar shooting too has TMC workers & leaders, a total of 37. Salil Das Adhikari & Sushil Das Adhikari are known TMC workers & related to TMC Panchayat Samiti member, Swadesh Das Adhikari. The other accused, Moni Rana, Prankrishna Das, Joydev Mondol, Srimanta Mondol are known local workers of the TMC. It is now clear that statements made by Left Front were correct. CBI came to two conclusions fairly early in its investigation, 1) State government had not sent the police to Nandigram secretly. There were numerous forewarnings after that area was cut off & the administration stopped from entering the area. It was clearly declared that the police will go in to restore the rule of law in the area & to carry out repairs to the roads infrastructure destroyed in the area; 2) there was an illegal assembly by the BUCP to stop the police from carrying out its job. Is it sheer coincidence that Mamata Banerjee did not provide the permission to the CBI for interrogating the top police officials?

  5. asit guin 6 June 2014 at 12:21 PM #

    WHAT HAPPENED TO RAPE CASE OF NANDIGRAM? On Jan 14, 2014, Nandigram got a 130-foot-tall column, or Minar. Built on the initiative of Trinamool MP, it is a memorial to the 14 villagers killed in police firing as well as to women raped during that movement. And one rape victim inaugurated it. Tears welled up in the eyes of the 52-year-old woman, who had allegedly been gangraped twice. On March 14, 2007, she was attacked twice by CPM goons. Her house was burnt. BUT SHE HAS NOT GOT JUSTICE EVEN AFTER Trinamool got POWER. This rape victim symbolized the fight against land grabbing as per Suvendu Adhikari, MP. He told this to Media. It is only second to Kolkata Shahid Minar (168 ft). Nandigram Minar is built at Rs 2.25 crore. Adhikari says what inspired him is the Minar at Jalianwala Bagh and the Bhasha Shaeed Minar in Dhaka. He contributed Rs 30 lakh from MP allowances. TOWER MAKING IS FINE. BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RAPE CASE? CAN RAPE VICTIM BECOME A VIP? IS RAPIST A VIP? TMC IS IN POWER. Who is preventing to investigate and punish the rapists? IS THIS ANOTHER CHAMPALA SARDAR CASE? No RAPE CASE by police? Only celebration ? Where is the CASE? ALEEK KUNATYA RONGE; MOJE LOK RAREH BONGE; NIROKHIA PULOKE HRIDOY;

  6. asit guin 21 August 2014 at 6:53 PM #

    Chhitamani murmu of LALGARH has withdrawn her cases against police. Why ? Were her complain against police false ? After death of kishenji , she realised that police is her friend and so withdrawn all cases against police ! ALEEK KUNATYA RONGE , MOJE LOK RAREH BONGE , NIROKHIA PULOKE HRIDOY . kshenji’s favorite candidate got cm post. And so , kishenji agreed to go hell.

  7. asit guin 23 September 2014 at 3:35 AM #

    What happened to tapasi malik case? Regarding Tapasi Malik case, we have reason to doubt that what really happened and whether lies are practiced or not? Her parent’s role is suspected. They are hiding some facts. CBI once released sketches of the four prime accused in the case related to Tapasi Malik in Singur. Releasing the sketches, CBI Superintendent of Police A K Sahai had said, “The sketches have been drawn on the basis of the interrogation of people and they will be distributed all over the country.” Though the CBI declined to disclose details about the accused, it announced a cash reward of Rs one lakh for anybody who could provide information about them. Where these sketches had gone? Tapasi’s father and brother might have had something to do with her murder. Tapasi’s unnatural death was cloudy and complicated. The CBI has become suspicious of the statements made by Tapasi’s father Monoranjan and brother Surajit. They did not own any plot of land at all. Nor they did till any land anywhere. Monoranjan was a member of the rural poor of the Singur village of Bajeymelia who eked out a living through selling fishes from a pavement stall and he had indeed lined up before the block level offices of the state government requesting for a job. But, Monoranjan and Tapasi were dubbed by commercial media as leading activists of the save agricultural land committee. Both Tapasi’s father and brother have something to hide with her murder.

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