[DEBATE] : Fwd: PEOPLE'S WATCH ANDHRA PRADESH Nandigram: A Report from Ground ZeroFrom: Medha Patkar
jai.sen at cacim.net
Sun Nov 25 04:08:23 GMT 2007
Begin forwarded message:
> From: msgiri_bebl <ms.giri.bebl at gmail.com>
> Date: November 24 2007 12:43:22 PM GMT+05:30
> To: PWAP at yahoogroups.com
> Subject: PEOPLE'S WATCH ANDHRA PRADESH Nandigram: A Report from
> Ground ZeroFrom: Medha Patkar
> Reply-To: PWAP-owner at yahoogroups.com
> PEOPLE'S WATCH
> ANDHRA PRADESH
> Nandigram: A Report from Ground Zero
> From: Medha Patkar medha at narmada.org
> Report on Nandigram Events (Based on visit by social activists and
> intellectuals to the relief camp and villages under attack and
> further investigation)
> November 12, 2007
> On November 12th 2007, a team consisting of about 25 social
> activists and intellectuals decided to visit Nandigram. This was
> the first team of civil society organisations that was to go into
> Nandigram after the events in early November, when a heavily armed
> force of CPI (M) supporters began its onslaught for occupation of
> Nandigram territory. The team took with it a truck full of relief,
> again the first relief from outside to reach the camp. In spite of
> the attack on some of the members of this team and others including
> Tarun Sanyal, Sunando Sanyal, Debprasad Sarkar, Meher Engineer and
> Medha Patkar, we felt the urgent need for some senior sensitive,
> peace loving persons to reach out to the people in serious crisis.
> We were receiving frantic calls and knew that many people were
> wounded, hospitalised and destitutionalised.
> While the DIG, Kolkata was informed in writing the previous day, it
> was at 12 noon when we were about to start, that the police
> officials objected to our visiting Nandigram. And after much
> argument it was agreed to have a meeting with the Chief Secretary,
> Home secretary and the IG at the Writers Building. During the one
> hour long dialogue, we brought to their notice the High Court order
> directing the state government to permit social organizations to go
> to Nandigram with relief material and render services (order dated
> 15th March 2007 in AST 205 of 2007). The senior officials were
> requesting us to postpone the visit to the 13th but we refused, due
> to urgency. We also claimed our right to reach Nandigram, where the
> people are not protected by the state against armed attacks by the
> ruling party cadres.
> On starting at around 2.00 p.m., we reached Howrah district and
> faced the first human blockade by 35 CPI-M supporters, who moved
> away after an hour. But the truck could proceed only to face
> another at a distance. On crossing the same, it was at another
> point that we found hundreds of men on the street expressing
> support and assuring protection to our Yatra.
> They belong to Trinamool Congress, Congress-I and nearby
> communities. Surprisingly the Police and Revenue Officials
> themselves stopped the vehicle at this point, without any reason.
> Objecting to this illegal detention, we protested against Police
> behaving rudely with our supporters and after an hour could compel
> them to let us go. All these, we realised were delaying tactics, to
> the least.
> Late evening, we were however stopped at Kolaghat by a blockade of
> a thousand plus CPI-M agitators and the police officials and force
> in 4 to 5 vehicles traveling with us, expressed their inability to
> remove the same. We were threatened with attacks in the darkness
> and with the abusing and challenging groups of agitators
> surrounding the truck, we decided to return back to Kolkata. The
> first ever set of relief material could not reach the Nandigram
> November 13, 2007
> We, a group of about 25 representatives of peoples movements and
> defenders of human rights, civil liberties, equitable development
> having made two defeated unsuccessful attempts to reach Nandigram,
> when we were stopped and not just heckled but attacked by the CPI-M
> cadres with red flags and raised voice with abuses, this time we
> were determined to reach the area under encroachment facing state
> violence and left with no defense, as the information from the
> field indicated. However, we were compelled to return the previous
> night from Kolaghat where party members and supporters had a road
> blockade. The next day there was a change, either because Mr. L.K.
> Advani was to visit the region or to counter the defamation gained
> over months. That very day, Nov 12th, we could pass without any
> political blockade and reached the relief camp housing about 2500
> persons in Nandigram. The team consisted of Medha Patkar, Atmaram
> Saraogi, Debjit Dutt, Chhabi Roy, Chandan Pal, Amita Bag, Gautam
> Bandopadhaya, Pushparaj, Biswajit, Anuradha Talwar, Swapna
> Tripathi, Bijoya Chanda, Kalyan Sengupta and others. From amongst
> those who were in the team, a few have contributed towards the
> writing of this report. Sushma Swaraj and other NDA leaders team
> had already taken a round of Nandigram and few villages and
> returned back.
> On reaching the only relief camp housing and feeding children,
> women and men ousted from their homes and habitats, we could not
> believe the silence, tears and terror in the air. It was for the
> first time during last many months that we were not received with
> the slogan Dichchi na, Debo na the same women, who had struggled
> like soldiers, were speechless and could only embrace us with
> heartfelt depression but slowly came to gather strength to narrate
> the stories in their choked voice. Some merely held our hands
> conveying the desperately needed support till we were taken to the
> We addressed a public meeting where all the speakers including the
> leaders of the BUPC expressed their strong objections to the events
> indicating violence from the ruling party CPM cadres and demanded
> that the armed cadres and their threats should be withdrawn
> immediately. An angry Doctor upset with his medical service team
> not being allowed to the villages where it was needed the most,
> spoke with anguish but asserted his professional ethic. Young
> Sarvodaya volunteers from Orissa, Gautam Bandopadhyay and other
> senior activists from APDR, PBKMS, NAPM, HSS, Gana Mukti Parishad,
> Sarva Seva Sangh, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Sangharsh 2007 and other
> organisations conveyed their support and solidarity.
> We then spent hours with families women and men - who were stuffed
> in small classrooms of the old school building, who vividly
> described what they themselves and their community had gone
> through. The stories were of horrifying armed attacks, burning and
> demolishing houses, of molestation and rape. We were told that
> hundreds were still missing and many of them were likely to be in
> Khejuri under the custody of CPI-M cadres and leaders.
> November 14, 2007
> Next day early morning, when we proceeded to the villages in block
> II, we knew, the destinations could not be disclosed even to the
> pilot car and the stuffed police and IB jeeps. We requested BUPC
> leaders to give us 2 to 4 of their members only to accompany us to
> show the path and the places of conflict. A caravan of 6 jeeps no
> doubt could not be hidden and was not to, since we intended not
> just have a flying round but also to have a short dialogue with the
> people living in. We could see CRPF jawans placed but only up to a
> few kilometers near Nandigram town and not beyond.
> We visited Kamalpur, Takapura and Satangabari. Some of us also went
> to Gokulnagar Daspara and Adhikaripara. We met the leadership of
> the BUPC namely Sk. Sufiyan, Abu Taher, Bhabani Das, Abdus Sammad
> and many others. Some of us also met the Superintendent of Police
> and other police officials and Shri Alok Raj, DIG CRPF, and we
> talked to the District Magistrate over the phone. The following
> report is based mainly on our observations during our visit.
> Reaching Kamalpur and Takapura we sensed the tension within no
> time. About 20-30 persons, women and men came to the jeep in each
> place with 2 to 4 persons, CPM local leaders and spokespersons
> arguing against our visit, claiming that peace is established now
> but was totally absent before. They meant BUPC had tortured people
> and disturbed peace by compelling people, especially women, to join
> processions in the darkness too, and forming BUPCs in villages even
> where SEZ was not to be come up. This indicated their plan to evict
> CPM, they said.
> We could find out that the vocal persons were employees of state
> government, especially local teachers or employees returning home
> from Kolkata. Some women screaming against BUPC were to be taken
> cognizance of but with caution, since they were guided by the
> outsider-insider CPM leadership, no doubt. Our journey was to be
> blocked and time taken but we wanted to listen to them. They could
> not show us any house attacked or burnt by BUPC, while houses of
> BUPC supporters were, according to them, burnt by house owners
> themselves. This they claimed in the case of Abdus Samad, leader of
> BUPC. We could still speak to the women and men lingering behind,
> watching and listening to these outspoken representatives whose
> expressions were of disgust and fear both. Some of our group
> members approaching them could know that we were being bluffed.
> We proceeded and during the journey could meet many old and sick
> women, shocked and scared men, silenced youth only when we stopped
> the jeeps suddenly and went a few houses inside. Their relatives
> and large number of other families had fled from the village, to
> take shelter in the Nandigram camp or at relatives houses far
> off... or just had disappeared not knowing where. Those were either
> burnt to ashes or partially demolished, made inhabitable. Some of
> them were desperate to get medical treatment but all were wanting
> our support against threats of evictions and pressures from the
> party cadres to behave. The worst of the fear was that their
> standing paddy crop would be harvested, as openly claimed, by CPM
> cadres, leaving them with nothing. They knew of this operation
> having begun in the village Satangabari. They were curious to know
> about their brethren in the camp and expressed their anguish over
> the sealed fate with no belongings left to feed and clothe
> themselves and no house to shelter them.
> We visited Satangabari, the village which was attacked by the
> Harmad Vahini2, known to be the armed hired force of CPI-M party,
> in April-May 2007. It was then that some of us had visited the
> village Satangabari and actually heard the details of the incidence
> when Harmad Vahini cadres entered the village on motorbikes and
> with other vehicles, demolished, looted houses. People who were
> expecting the attack, called other villagers and in the resistance,
> Harmads were also attacked with whatever weapons other villagers
> had probably leading to some wounded, if not killed. Press reports
> are also available.
> This time, we found it this village, only tens of people,
> supporters of CPI-M including some leading them. The latter had
> come with motor bikes with red flags. We saw the label of Indonesia
> on the cover of the motorbike number WB-30-A-5293.
> We were stopped and our jeeps were gheroed by the people present
> who questioned our visit. One of they said, "you (Medha Patkar) had
> paid 10 lakhs to BUPC". We strongly countered. They said, some
> screaming, that their houses were attacked and they were made to
> stay away for months. We decided to visit those houses and walked
> with the turbulent crowd, amidst shouts, questioning, and yet a
> Some of the houses such as of Mr. Anwar Ali, Abdul Kayyam,
> Mannanbabu and Samiran Bibi. They informed us that a few hundred
> houses were attacked by BUPC supporters in 3 villages Kiyakhali,
> Ranichowk and Satangabari. Those who told us were SK Abudul Bari,
> Tapan Bhuia, and Akshar Ali. They told us they are for SEZ-Chemical
> hub as it will bring jobs to them. They were especially against
> BUPCs being formed in village after village.
> When some of us enquired separately with persons standing quietly
> near the crowd, they could not confirm everything. We found out
> that about 400 persons were out in the Khejuri camps, managed by
> CPI-M leaders for months. All the Satangabari villagers supporting
> BUPC have left the village and are dispersed. Some are in
> hospitals, some in the Nandigram relief camp.
> The police with more plainclothes men were surrounding us to listen
> to the conversation and intimidate those belonging to opposition.
> There were no other flags but the red ones right from Nandigram
> into the villages. This was remarkably contrary to the fact that a
> large majority of villagers had joined the struggle against SEZ,
> with BUPC seeking support of the opposition parties as is the case
> with every struggle of the displaced, across the country, may it be
> in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra or Orissa.
> With CPM and other left front partners in opposition, in these
> other states, they are invited to mass rallies, protests and also
> committees formed, invariably. Most of the times, they have
> responded, as in Pondicherry, against Harmad. It is a word that is
> used in Bengal to refer to the pirates of Spanish origin who used
> to attack and loot villages. They were famous for their cruelty and
> inhuman behavior. The people of Nandigram have adopted this word to
> refer to the armed goons of the CPI (M) who have been attacking
> them since January. Vahini means army. privatization of port, in
> Raigad, Maharashtra where Ambanis SEZ, the SEZ Act and Congress
> Government nexus is questioned, in Orissa where anti POSCO struggle
> has CPI leadership alongside the Gandhian youth. In Andhra Pradesh,
> the CPM fighters as the party openly claimed, laid their lives and
> sought compensation within 3 days, continuing to grope in many
> peoples organizations and seeking support of civil society on land
> rights and rehabilitation rights. This is forgotten by CPM in West
> Bengal where the party in power is known since years to have
> established monopoly or at least a terror against not only
> opposition by other parties but also other peoples organizations or
> human rights defenders. Those who cannot be branded to be
> capitalists or communal, are categorised and condemned to be the
> Maoists, giving a boost and space to the radical left as the only
> ones posing an impactful challenge to the CPM its intolerance,
> widespread arrogance and non-responsiveness.
> Operation Nandigram, as per investigation reports.
> Reports from newspapers as well as accounts that we heard from
> people in the villages in Nandigram as well as in the relief camp
> show that the re-capture of Nandigram was carefully planned and
> executed by the CPI (M) party. Amassing of arms seems to have taken
> place for quite a few days before the attacks were launched. We
> ourselves got first hand reports in the third week of October from
> villages as far away as Nalgora in the Sunderbans and Mandir bazar
> block in South 24 Parganas of groups of 13-14 mercenaries who were
> used during elections by the CPI(M) being mobilised for the
> Nandigram operation. Planning with the police was also done. Police
> camps began to be withdrawn from the third week of October. The OC
> of Nandigram Police Station was reported to have said that he had
> been asked by his superior officers to not send his force in, no
> matter what the circumstances. TV coverage showed police standing
> by or lying down on the ground while bullets whizzed past. Their
> orders seem to have been clear hands off and let the harmad take over.
> The timing of the operation was also well chosen- Poojas are a time
> for holidays in West Bengal with political activity at its lowest
> ebb. The long weekend from the 9th to the 11th with Kali Pooja and
> Bhai Phota saw the operation at its peak, courts closed and very
> little option for any counter action.
> Villagers everywhere reported to us that there was a shower of
> bullets and bombs and then the harmad came in with faces covered
> with black cloth- a frightening sight in itself. Looting of houses,
> burning, beating people, even molestation of many women and rape
> seems to have followed. The houses and families of those active in
> the BUPC were especially targeted, so one could see a para or
> hamlet with some houses intact but others chosen ones demolished,
> burnt and looted. This generally led to the fleeing of almost all
> able bodied men and many women with children from these families.
> Some stayed back, generally the old, the infirm and some women and
> children. The number of those who got dispersed... taking shelter
> at their relatives far away is unknown. The relief camp in
> Nandigram High School thus saw a daily inflow of people whose
> villages have been attacked one after the other.
> A few of the incidences and attacks as narrated by the affected are
> as follows:
> On last Monday (5th November) an old woman died in our village. The
> three families that support the CPI (M) in our village who had left
> and the Harmad used this as an excuse to enter the village in order
> to discuss the last rites of this woman. They came at 7 AM in the
> morning. While chasing them away, Gangaram Das of Kalicharanpur
> received a bullet injury. There was a shower of bullets and bombs.
> The women and children fled from the houses. 40-45 houses were
> looted, broken and burnt. 4 of us are in the relief camp, while my
> wife and daughter are at a relative place. They come here everyday
> for food. (Gautam Mondal, Simulkundu)
> On Wednesday (7th November), there was tremendous firing in my
> village from 10 AM onwards. The harmad were coming. I ran away with
> my two children- 6 years old boy and a 7 years old girl and came to
> the camp. My wife Sailabal Das, who was in hospital for two weeks
> with a chest injury after March 14th, could not come with us as she
> had a knee injury. She was not capable of running away. I heard she
> is now in Kalicharanpur at her relatives house. I do not know if
> she is alright. (Nanda Das, Gokulnagar)
> When the attack started, I ran away with my children. I fell in the
> hands of the Harmad. (showing her 6 year old son whom she is
> carrying and who is absolutely naked). I was not able to get even
> clothes for my children. (Rahima Bivi, 7 No, Jalpai)
> On Thursday (8th November), I moved my family out of the village to
> my relatives house. I came away myself to the relief camp. On
> Friday (9th November), we heard that they (CPI(M) goons) had begun
> to loot and burn our houses. (Sk. Hafizul of Daudpur)
> There are 11 people in my family- my two mothers, my wife and 7
> children. My house has been looted. Even my childrens books- one is
> now in Class X, another in Class 12 and the younger one in Class V
> have been torn to small pieces. My family has phoned me and told me
> that it is not safe to return home. I feel insecure here also at
> the relief camp. (Sk. Sajiman, Osmanchak).
> Women and children were not spared in the violence that occurred.
> In fact, as is usual in all cases where violence is perpetrated,
> the impact on women and children is always the worst.
> We give examples below:-
> The harmad caught me because I participated in the peace procession
> on the 10th of November. They beat me up and my nose is broken. I
> am now in hospital. (Chhabirani Mondal, Gokulnagar)
> In Satangabari, village, 7 women and girls were reported to have
> been raped on 7th of November 2007. While one of them, a 40 year
> old woman named Akhreja Bivi had been admitted to Tamluk hospital
> after gang rape, her two daughters who had also been raped , 18
> years old Anwara and Ansura 16 years old were missing. 4 other
> women had not been allowed to come out of their villages and could
> therefore not report the matter (Abdus Sammad, BUPC leader).
> On last Tuesday i.e. 6th November, at 6 AM about 20-30 person came
> crawling through the paddy fields. Their faces were covered with
> black cloth. They were firing bullets. They went from house to
> house. They looted the houses, took away the tiles, broke the walls
> with a machine that they had. They surrounded me and asked for my
> husband. I had already sent him away. I could recognise about 10 of
> them from their voices, as they were from my village. The rest were
> strangers. They hit me on my face many time. They snatched away my
> 4 months old baby and threw him on the floor. He hurt his head
> (showing us a large bump on the back of the infants head) When he
> started screaming, one of them said leave her alone. Give back the
> baby to her. (Muktaran Bivi, Satangabari).
> I am seven months pregnant. On Tuesday, (6th November) I fled my
> village like everyone else. The next day I decided to go back.
> There was nothing left of my house. I was in my mother in laws
> house. The harmad surrounded me and said why you have come back and
> they beat me up. I tried to take cover under my mother in laws bed,
> but they dragged me out. My ear started bleeding. They hit me on
> the head. My head is still paining. They did not let me stay inside
> the house. My baby was not moving after the beating. My lower
> abdomen is also paining. (Manjura Bivi, Satangabari)
> The harmad kept asking me where my elder brother in laws house was
> (he was active in the BUPC). My husband is deaf and dumb, so they
> did not bother with him. They wanted my 15 years old son who works
> in Kolkata. They said if you don't produce your son we will abduct
> all of you. Then they began beating me. After they left 7 of us
> fled to the camp. (Rahina Bivi, Satangabari) While the harmad
> attacked the peace procession, my husband and I fled away with our
> two children. But they have not allowed my aged mother in law to
> come. CPI (M) cadre are putting pressure to make me come back They
> will kill me if I go back as I was very active in the BUPC.
> The Procession and its Aftermath We had heard while we were in
> Kolkata about the last ditch attempt by the BUPC to fight the
> onslaught of the armed squads of the CPI (M) nonviolently. They
> decided to take out two huge processions of unarmed people one from
> Sonachura towards Bhangabera and the other from Nandigram itself
> towards Maheshpur in the hope that the armed mercenaries would not
> at least attack them. The OC was informed about this in writing, as
> was the Prime Minister, the President and the Chairperson of the
> UPA was informed by some of us, through phone calls conveying
> urgency, through personal secretaries. We also contacted some
> ministers at the Centre and some MPs requesting them to take urgent
> action to prevent a massacre. At 9 a.m. on the 10th, people started
> gathering outside the police station, demanding protection from the
> armed onslaught in the villages. When there was no reaction from
> the police station, after a few hours, they began walking towards
> Maheshpur What followed were attacks by armed groups of CPI (M)
> goons on an unarmed procession, capturing of prisoners of war,
> torture of the unfortunate captives for information, and using them
> as human shields to enter other villages. By the end of this
> operation, Operation Nandigram was complete.
> I was in the procession from Sonachura. In Gokulnagar, where the
> Pancham Dol programme takes place every year, 70-80 persons came
> out suddenly from the paddy fields. They had guns and lathis. They
> told all of us to put up our hands and told us to go towards a red
> flag that was planted some distance away. They checked our pockets
> and took away our money, mobiles and whatever else we had in our
> pockets. They surrounded us and made about 500 of us walk. We
> walked for almost 2-3 hours from 12.30 pm to 3 pm to Sherkhachak in
> Khejuri. Two of us had bullet injuries but were made to walk in
> spite of that. By then there were about 100 harmad.
> They made us go to Amratola Primary School first in Khejuri, where
> they gave us muri to eat and water to drink. Then they took those
> whom they identified as being important to one side. They took each
> one of us aside one by one and asked questions- why did you go in
> the BUPC procession? Where are the land mines planted? How many
> Maoists are there? Who killed Shankar Samanta? How many arms are
> there with you? Who gives the arms? 3 people would ask the
> questions and two people would beat us up. If one said one did not
> know or if one did not answer the questions they would start
> beating one up. After giving me this treatment they brought me back
> to the others. Fifteen persons were given the same beating as me.
> Then Naba Samanta, the CPI (M) leader said This entire state is
> ours. Why are you being foolish and joining the procession of others?
> By this time I was in great pain. They had broken my arm. So I
> pleaded to be taken to a hospital. 7 of us were brought to the
> hospital at 8 PM at night. We reached the Kamardah hospital at 11
> PM. Later Asit Das a DMS doctor from Kalicharanpur was brought. He
> was so badly beaten that he had to be immediately transferred. Asit
> Das was taken in the ambulance with a drip. I do not know where he
> went The next day the doctor came and said the OC has come to take
> you... The rest of us came to Nandigram hospital.
> We had amongst us Khagen Kar. He has a book shop in Tekhali bazaar.
> He had a head injury and his eye had burst and was hanging out. He
> was to be sent straight to Tamluk. He was not in our procession. He
> was picked up by the harmad in Tekhali bazaar. There were 15 of us
> who were beaten up. 6 came with me. I dont know where the other 8
> people are. (Asit Pradhan, Sonachura)
> On the day of the peace procession, bullets hit me in 4 parts of my
> body. So I am now in hospital. (Prakash Giri Sonachura) I am in
> Class IX. On the day of the procession, the Harmads attacked me.
> They pushed me down on the ground full of stone chips... 5 of them
> beat me with fists, blows and kicks. They sat on me. My nose got
> fractures (showing a shirt full of blood stains). This is what I
> wore that day. I was a prisoner in Parulbari camp for two days. Now
> I am in Nandigram Hospital.
> I was in the procession from Sonachura. They hit me on the head. I
> had to get three stitches. I am now in hospital at Nandigram. My
> son Sukhendu was abducted from the procession and taken to Sherkha
> Chak in Khejuri. On the next day (11th November) my son and others
> were used as human shields by the harmad. They kept them in front
> and the harmad used bombs and bullets from behind them. In this way
> they got those who had left their homes (ghar chhara) to return to
> their homes. (Sukumar Mondal, Sonachura)
> On Saturday (10th November), our procession began from Nandigram
> towards Maheshpur at 12.30 p.m. When we reached Samsabad, about 3
> kilometres from Maheshpur, bullets began to be fired over our heads
> We ducked and continued to walk towards Aamgacchia. We crossed the
> bridge there and went up to the State Bank building there. Then Sk.
> Rejaul died of bullet wounds. We managed to get his body back. Then
> two more persons were shot and had to be sent to Tamluk hospital.
> After that I do not know how many died. We asked the police to come
> with us so that we could recover the injured and the dead. They did
> nothing. (Sk. Hafizul of Daudpur)
> According to all the reports, the five hundred people who were
> taken on gun point were kept in three places Amratala Primary
> School, Kalgacchia and Kunjipur. Some were used as human shields,
> but some were rumoured missing. A police officer whispered to us on
> the 14th that at least 350 of these people were still in Khejuri.
> Subduing the Population
> The people in the relief camp were very keen to go home, but for
> the fear of attacks. Their first request to us was to arrange for
> their safe return. They were afraid that if they did not return
> their paddy crop which was near harvest time would be looted by the
> CPI (M) supporters. However, they were also frightened of
> returning. They were told on the 11th and 12th November by some CPI
> (M) supporters to go back to their houses as all was peaceful.
> However the experiences of returning only meant a recurrence of
> torture. The CPI (M) had decided that once the territory had been
> recaptured it was now time to subdue the rebellious population
> into submission.
> On 7th, Wednesday, seven of us tried to go back home. As soon as we
> reached, one of them began shouting â€" those who ran away have
> come back. They pointed pistols and knives at us and began beating
> us. They threw me on the ground. They asked me to produce my
> husband. When they were about to cut my throat open, I said I will
> stay in the village. I will not go anywhere. Then they tied me up.
> I asked for water. They would not even give me water. I pleaded
> with them to leave and promised to come back at night with my
> husband. They left me and since then I have not dared to go back.
> (Rahina Bivi, Satangabari)
> Two brothers from our village, Enamul Kazi and Ajanur Kazi, went
> home from the camp on Sunday (11th November). Ajanur Kazi is the
> CPI (M) Panchayat member from our village. He became active in the
> BUPC after the SEZ issue came up. They were told that everything
> was alright at home, but when they went there they were beaten up.
> (Sk. Hafizul Daudpur)
> Those who are in the village are being forced to go in processions
> at gun point by the CPI (M). They have been forced to go on night
> guard by the CPI (M). Our paddy has been harvested and taken away
> by the party member. Fines are being imposed on all of us. Many
> houses have been burnt. (Prakash Giri Sonachura)
> My uncle, Netaipada Karan (96 years old) a freedom fighter of
> Jambari died on the 13th morning. He was a freedom fighter and was
> beaten up a few days ago when the village was occupied. We asked
> for a police force to go with us to the village so that as his sons
> and nephews we could do his last rites. As LK Advani was to be
> here, the OC said he could only provide us an escort, once LK
> Advani left. In the evening, we were told to go to Tekhali. 10 of
> us went to the Tekhali Outpost with 3-4 policemen. The rest of the
> escort was to be given by the Tekhali Outpost. The Tekhali Camp in
> Charge rang up the CPI (M) Local Committee Secretary (LCS) to ask
> for his permission before sending us there. He was told by Pratap
> Shaw, the LCS that only one of us could go to the village the
> others need not come as the LCS himself would arrange for the
> cremation of the old man!. The party thus took charge of even the
> last rites of my uncle. We have complained to the OC in writing and
> have said that the body can rot there as far as we are concerned
> and it is his responsibility that my uncles last rites were not
> performed. (Netaipada Karans nephew, Jambari).
> The harmad did not break down my house. That is because my brother
> in law is in the CPI (M) and he stopped them from doing this. I was
> myself from the CPI (M). They are very angry that I joined the
> BUPC, so they have said when I go home they will kill me. I work as
> the peon of the cooperative bank. I am in hospital right now and
> afraid of going home. My 15 year old daughter is in Class VIII. I
> have hidden her at a relatives place as I am afraid she may be
> molested or raped. Her studies have stopped. (Sukumar Mondal,
> Till we were there on 14th November, atrocities to subdue the
> villagers were continuing. In Nandigram Hospital, we met Musharraf
> of Garchakraberia. He told us that his father Adbur Adut Khan, his
> brother, Mujtara Khan and Obaidullah had been surrounded by the CPM
> harmad on the morning of the 14th November at 7 am at
> Garchakraberia. Those surrounding them were Malek Meer, Basir Meer,
> Taimuch Mallik Lalu and another 12 people. They beat up these three
> people. They demanded hat Musharraf should leave the relief camp in
> Nandigram and the BUPC and must come back to the village. According
> to Musharraf, they also threatened to shoot his father and his two
> relatives. But he got the news at Nandigram and told the police.
> The police however took no action. Instead he had to approach some
> of his relatives who were close to the CPI (M) and they interceded
> on his behalf. So their lives were saved. His brother and father
> have been admitted to Nandigram hospital while Obaidullah, who is
> more severely injured, has been sent to Tamluk, to the district
> The Divide In the Villages The experiences we heard in the relief
> camp were of looting and burning by the harmad and of very few CPI
> (M) supporters being rendered homeless in the past 11 months.
> However when we went into the villages, we were surrounded by
> vociferous groups of CPI(M) supporters who insisted that huge
> numbers of them had been ghar chhara or homeless refugees for the
> past many months.
> We give examples of the versions that we heard in the camps below:-
> Our village has 70 families. Of these, 10 are CPI (M) supporters.
> Amongst these 10, 7 had joined the BUPC while the other three ran
> away and did not come back though we asked them again and again. We
> even disproved their claims that we had looted their houses by
> showing their houses to the police as proof. They wanted greater
> benefits from the CPI (M) party that is why they did not come back.
> The ones that CPI (M) claims are ghar chhara (chased out of their
> homes) had come home for sowing their paddy crop. So we told them-
> you say you have been chased out of your houses yet you have sowed
> your crops. This will do, you have to come and stay at your own
> houses. We did not want 40-45 people who were the perpetrators, to
> come home. The rest were welcome. Many who had gone hoping to get
> greater benefits wanted to come back, but the CPM would not allow
> them to. They forced them to stay in the relief camp. (Gautam
> Mondal, Simulkundu)
> There were people who fled to Khejuri in our village 15 families in
> all. We asked them to come back 5 times. They buried their things
> under the ground and hid them under the water of the pods and then
> said we had looted their houses. (Rahima Bivi, 7 No. Jalpai)
> People were very willing to talk about atrocities that had occurred
> on them while in the relief camp at Nandigram. In the villages on
> the other hand there was clearly an atmosphere of fear. Versions of
> events were sharply differing.
> In Kamalpur, the first village that we visited, we found ourselves
> surrounded by a noisy crowd of about 70-80 men and women. The most
> vociferous were Ajanur Sau, Akraman Sau and Subhash Jana.
> There are 65 Muslim houses in our village and others are 50 houses
> in our village. 30-40 of us had left. We were driven away about a
> month ago. Now we have come back. 45 families have now gone away.
> (Ajanur Sau, Kamalpur)
> 7-8 houses have been looted or burnt in Kamlapur. The house of
> Abdus Sammad, a BUPC leader was a burnt shell with all its contents
> looted. The village people insisted that Sammad had fired his house
> himself. Some insisted that the fire had started because of a fire
> in the kitchen.
> When asked about how Abdus Sammads house was burnt, Ajanur Sau said
> Abdus Sammads supporters have burnt his house. They did the same to
> another 5-7 houses. We found bombs, explosives and Maoist
> literature in their houses. They used to take money from us Rs.
> 1000-1500 from each family.
> Two women were standing silent behind the gathering. When asked
> about the peaceful situation in the village they whispered to us so
> that the others could not hear them speaking.
> The house of Abdus Sammad was burnt by the Harmads. The Cadres were
> firing at that time so we did not dare to come out of our houses.
> If you move forward you will se a number of burnt and broken houses
> at the left side of the road. Since Monday at least 100 people have
> left their houses. No men folk in our family dared to stay in the
> village. They are constantly threatening us and forcefully making
> us join the CPM rally. (Sabirun Bibi and Rameshan Bibi, Kamalpur)
> A little later, two women Khusanu Bibi and Harisan Bibi rushed
> there and asked the two women in a loud and threatening voice why
> were they stating the names of who burnt the houses when they did
> not actually know and two women become very frightened and stopped
> When we moved forward a little we found the house of SK. Kohibur in
> broken and abandoned condition. After that there was the telephone
> booth and house of Mahmud SK. at the left hand side of the road
> also broken and abandoned. Opposite to the said booth an aged woman
> was standing alone who stated.
> "We have a small shop of potato, onion etc. On the day when the
> house of Sammad was burnt the Harmads also broke and looted our
> shop. My husband Rabin Shasmal and son Vivekananda Shasmal left the
> village. I can't move quickly so I have remained at home.
> (Tuntunibala Shasmal, Kamalput)
> When we moved a little away from the crowd, a woman came and began
> complaining loudly, in spite of angry interruptions by other women
> who surrounded us. They broken and looted my house and our shop.
> Our shop was a telephone booth, so they looted our receivers,
> batteries and other equipment. They have taken away even our
> bedding, and 4 trunks of clothes. I have nothing left to cover
> ourselves with. (Irani Bivi (w/o Motelef Sau, Kamalpur)
> Chhabirani Bera of Kamlapur, when Irani Bivi complained of her
> house and shop being looted, said â€œwe found 7 cycles, 8-10
> uniforms, 2 packets of bullets and packets of explosives in her
> house.â€ Irani Bivi claimed that the packets were of paint
> powder. The villagers were not able to produce any of the Maoist
> literature, arms and uniforms that they had found in other peoples
> houses. They were also not able to give a seizure list of handing
> the same over to the police. We met Rekha Mondal wife of Kalipada
> Mondal, wife of Amulya Mondal and wife of Nirapada Mondal and they
> showed the burnt houses of Kalipada Mondal, Debu Mondal, Pashupati
> Mondal and Jadupati Mondal, the burnt cow shed of Nirapada Mondal
> and complained that two cows of Pashupati Mondal were burnt to
> death by the harmad. The men folks of these families except one who
> cannot move fled away. Only the women are living there and they are
> so frightened of the harmad that most of them preferred to remain
> anonymous. While they were talking to us some CPI (M) supporters
> led by Debashish Khatua and Rabin Samanta come there and started
> reporting to us about the misbehavior of BUPC. Later our local
> guides pointed to a person standing beside the crowd as the LCM of
> CPI (M) Alokesh Manna. We saw the ransacked and broken three
> storied building of the Ex- Panchayat Pradhan Tarapada Khatua also.
> In the second village, Takapura, we were told that there had never
> been any problem of looting or of people leaving the village. Both
> CPI (M) and TMC supporters said this to us. Of the 250 houses in
> the village, 200 owed allegiance to the BUPC and 50 to the CPI (M).
> All of them were living peacefully together. Tensions seemed to
> have started recently. CPI (M) supporters spoke of women getting
> together and trying to break down their doors. When the attack by
> the CPI (M) started, 6 houses were burnt in Takapura. though the
> there were no people who were ghar chhara or refugees here, and
> who had to be returned to their homes. Operation Nandigram
> therefore was not just a matter of helping those who had been
> rendered homeless to their homes. It was also a matter of capturing
> all the political and physical space in the area.
> We met Paresh Karan and people in his para who spoke to us in
> whispers and said that their houses had been looted. Most of them
> were old people or women, the men having all left. Many of them
> were petrified and crying.
> They came and looted our house. I and my wife hid in my brothers
> house nearby. They broke open our door and took away everything. I
> have only one son. He was with the BUPC. We have sent him away.
> There were no people who had to leave their homes in our village.
> The CPI (M) and the TMC people used to live together peacefully.
> Now there are 5-7 young men from the CPI (M) who frighten us. They
> say they will kill my son. They say they will not allow us to
> harvest our paddy. (Paresh Karan, Takapura)
> The third village we went to was Satangabari Paschim Palli. We
> found that just before we entered the village some policemen
> standing on the right side on a small path that led to another
> hamlet. When we went to see what they were doing, we found that
> they claimed to have found a land mine. The villagers complained
> vociferously about the BUPC people planting landmines in the area.
> The whole affair seemed somewhat stage managed. Our suspicion about
> stage managing were heightened later on when we talked to the DIG
> Range and the SP, Shri Panda in the late evening at about 6 PM. The
> SP could not really remember whether a land mine had been found in
> the morning. After a lot of reminding, he said yes, yes a mine was
> found. It had 1.5 kgs of explosives in it. The CID team found it.
> It has been detonated. The DIG Range knew nothing about the mine.
> Was it then such an unimportant occurrence? Or was the mine itself
> a myth?
> The villagers numbering almost 200 in Satangabari insisted we go
> with them to their village. They showed us another looted and burnt
> house, belonging to a BUPC supporter. They claimed that the land
> mine would have been detonated from this house that was at least
> 7-800 metres away. They also said they had been in camps in Khejuri
> since April and had come back home just a few days back. They said
> they had been chased out by TMC supporters. When asked how they had
> come home again, they informed us that the CPI (M) had told them
> that it was safe to come back. When asked how the CPI (M) had got
> them home, a 15 year old girl said Juddha Kore (they made war).
> When we wanted to know details of this war, the girl was shushed by
> the others. A man remarked these women do not know anything- it is
> no point talking to them.
> After 14th March the BUPC people knifed me near my eye (showing us
> a wound near her eye). I was in Tamluk hospital for 16 days. They
> demolished 10-15 Muslim houses. Our fault was that we were with the
> CPI (M). There will no red flag in this village, they said. The
> party (CPM) has brought us back after waging war with the help of
> the police. (Haren Bivi, Satangabari Paschim Palli)
> A number of men and women came and told us of how they had been
> homeless for 11 months and had come home to see their houses, as
> well as houses of TMC supporters burnt, broken and looted.52 houses
> of CPI (M) supporters had been broken and looted in Satangabari
> Barman Para, and 22 in the Meer Para. They claimed that this had
> been done by the TMC supporters on the 7th November 2007 when they
> had fled the village. Only three TMC supporters had fled from their
> houses according to the villagers. One of them, Meer Mannan said
> There is no disturbance in the village now, but we will not allow
> Aajahar, Rosan, and Aurobindo Pramanick to live here. They created
> all these problems. We will murder them if we see them.
> Our vehicles at this spot were almost smashed by the villagers.
> They were very angry to see with the three BUPC supporters who had
> accompanied us to guide us through the villages. The jeep keys were
> snatched away and in spite of a police force being there, a mob of
> about three hundred CPI (M) supporters surrounded us and wanted us
> to give the three young men to them. The police tried its best to
> guard the young men in the vehicle. With great difficulty we
> managed to placate the crowd and get out of there.
> On the way to Gokulnagar Das Para. we came across a temporary
> shelter set up with a black tarpaulin in Gokulnagar Malpara. On
> asking a young man Ranjit Kumar Mal about it, we were told that
> this was for the night guard. When we remarked that now that â
> €œpeace had returnedâ€ to the villages and no attacks were
> expected from Khejuri, why was there the need for night guards? Was
> this not a practice when the BUPC was there? What was the need now?
> He replied we are all with the Red Flag now, but people from the
> CPI (M) come from outside and attack the people in our village.
> Looting may happen anytime. A state of anarchy and great insecurity
> seems to exist.
> The villages that we visited thus seem to be divided between groups
> of people who owe allegiance to the CPI (M) or to the BUPC. There
> seems to be intense hatred between people who were once neighbours
> and perhaps even friends. The CPI (M) supporters are now engaged in
> a well organised attempt to see that their version of the truth
> prevails in the villages.
> Before Gokulnagar Adhikaripara is a village that we had visited on
> 17th September 2007 before the trouble started. The contrast with
> our last visit could not have been more. On that visit, we had sat
> in the grounds of the primary school and talked to a number of
> women. An uneasy truce existed at that time between the two warring
> sides. People were slowly going back to normalcy. Many of the men,
> who worked in Kolkata and elsewhere as migrant workers were staying
> at home to guard their fields and home. Work was a problem. We had
> talked about resuming normal life, applying for work under NREGA,
> preparing for the harvest etc. We had discussions with Swadesh Das
> Adhikari and other leaders about the availability of food schemes
> and other normal activities. We were informed that many of the
> primary school teachers owing affiliation to the CPI (M) had
> stopped attending school, but were still drawing salaries at
> Khejuri. The BUPC had protested about this and said they must
> attend school. The teachers had been transferred overnight and many
> of the schools had suddenly become single teacher schools. The BUPC
> leaders were saying was that their next struggle was to get
> teachers posted here so that schools could function normally. The
> leaders also told us about their attempts to start development
> work. They informed us that they had been in regular touch with the
> BDO and SDO. Though Panchayat Pradhans and members from the CPI (M)
> who had fled, were refusing to come back even after assurances of
> protection, they were insisting that development work must still
> continue. They had made rather imaginative use of the Panchayat
> Act, insisting that Gram Sansad meetings be held and a Gram Unnayan
> Samiti be re-elected that could then continue with the development
> work. We were told that after these Gram Unnayan Samitis had been
> formed, NREGA job cards were now being issued to all villagers and
> they hoped to start works under the NREGA soon.
> The impression we got was of a group of people who were responsibly
> trying to get on with their lives and would have been known as good
> community organisers under any other circumstances. This was just
> the kind of peoples initiative that was eulogised by the Panchayat
> Department in our state ad elsewhere.
> And After On the 14th November 2007, when we went to the village,
> Gokulnagar Adhikaripara felt like a grave yard. It was quiet and
> one did not hear the sound of human voices. No sounds of children
> playing were there.
> The first houses that we entered and the people we met were loud in
> their criticism of the BUPC. The first one was Jharna Ari. She
> recognised us as she was also there in the womens meeting on 17th
> September 2007.
> I have two houses one here and one in Tekhali Bazar. I had a
> nursery in Tekhali that was looted by the BUPC. People from 3
> villages looted it. My son was beaten up by Minakshi Das Adhikari I
> fought with him for that. My son is now working in the Andamans. We
> were not allowed to speak when you came to our village earlier. The
> BUPC people used to spy on us. On 14th March, I went for the Pooja.
> When the police started firing, I came running back. I was hurt I
> had to spent my own money for my treatment. I went to save my land
> also. We were CPM they forced us to join the BUPC. There are 10-15
> houses here that were in terror. Now our sons and nephews have come
> back from Khejuri and all is well. (Jharna Ari, Gokulnagar
> I was away from home for 11 months. The reason- BUPC people used
> threats and patrolled with guns and used to force us to go in their
> procession. They had trainings in the primary school with outsiders
> coming here. They said we will not allow the red flag in the
> village. 34 families were kicked out of the village. We were in
> camps in Tekhali and Khejuri. They burnt the Tekhali camp when we
> went to complain to the Governor. On 12th November, the party waged
> war and brought us back to our houses. The Naxals and Maoists have
> heard that the CRPF is coming so they have fled the villages, so we
> have been able to come home. (Ashwini Das, Adhikaripara)
> They demolished my tea shop and looted my house all because I was
> with the CPI (M). 200 of us had fled the village. Now only 3-4
> leaders of the BUPC have left home. (Swarnagayen Das, tea shop owner)
> A walk into the village helped us to meet Anil Das. He showed us
> his house which was in a state of ruin as it had been deserted for
> 11 months. He also complained of looting while he was away. He said
> they had lost 35 bags of paddy and that they had no food to eat
> now. The house he showed us was dilapidated due to neglect in the
> past 7-9 months.
> We passed Swadesh Dass house which was locked and deserted. He was
> one of the prominent leaders of the BUPC. We tried to talk to a
> woman who recognised us from our previous visits. We asked her how
> she was. She whispered not goodand immediately walked away.
> We then went further into the village. We met Arati Das and her
> sister in law. Both of them are living in the village alone without
> their men folk. While one is a widow, the others husband is a
> migratory worker. They are very fearful and insecure because their
> men are not there. They say they felt more secure when the BUPC was
> in control. Right now they are afraid that they might be attacked.
> we were not forced to go in processions by the BUPC nor are we
> being forced now as we have never taken part in any political
> activity and our men are also not here.
> Pramila Das Adhikari talked to us in whispers very conscious of
> those who could be listening. Her son Sunil Das Adhikari had
> received a bullet injury on his nose on 14thMarch. He was in
> hospital for 6-7 months at SSKM Hospital in Kolkata. He was now in
> Orissa as she was too scared to allow him to come home. She told us
> I am at peace why have you come We have now joined the CPI (M).
> They will bring us peace, the BUPC used to force us to go in their
> A man was standing nearby and listening. The police chased him
> away, Pramila began to talk more openly She told us that what she
> had said earlier was lies. She would be beaten up if she said
> anything about CPI (M) atrocities. She was being forced now to go
> in CPI (M) processions all the time now. She was living in great
> fear with her daughter in law. Suddenly a 9-10 years old boy came
> and stood near us. Pramilas tone and what she was saying changed
> again. She said BUPC used to beat us and force us to go in
> processions. They used to rape women.
> Further inside the village we reached Adhikaripara. We found the
> women in a group, still very afraid to talk to us. One of them
> however with signals and whispers arranged for a small boy to take
> us to where houses had been burnt.
> We saw the houses that had become burnt shells. We saw the houses
> of the following that were burnt or Deserted - Ajit Das Adhikari,
> Shrikanat Das Adhikari, Srinibas Adhikari, Nabadwip Das Adhikari,
> Swadesh Das Adhikari, In a nearby house we met Manotosh Das
> Adhikari who told us that he could not talk to us as it was
> dangerous. He left hurriedly. The old man and woman who lived there
> told us that it started with a shower of bombs and bullets. They
> hid inside their house and when they came out after an hour or so
> they found the house next door burning. In Nabadwip Das Adhikaris
> house we found a mat and kantha (bed sheet) on the bed outside in
> the verandah. We saw shoes lying on the floor. It was as if people
> had fled with no time to even put away their things.
> We then moved further into the village to another burnt ruin. The
> house was totally looted and broken down. We met Rashmoni Das
> Adhikari (86 years old), wife of late Bhuban Das Adhikari, whose
> house and all her possessions have been burnt down and looted. She
> has only one dhoti that she is wearing. She is living with a
> relative (another widow) in the neighbourhood and has no food to
> eat. She has to depend on whatever is provided by the neighbours
> All the people we met in the interior part of the village
> complained to us of the very ferocious attack the CPI (M) had
> organised with their harmad to enter the village. They also
> expressed fear of the CPI (M) and said they were being forced to
> join them everyday in processions and marches. If they did not they
> would be beaten up.
> We also met people from the CPI (M) who had just returned home. A
> group of women with bags in their hands informed us that they would
> be given 5 kgs of rice per head by the party for all those who had
> returned because they had no food in their home. A number of them
> in Gokulnagar Adhikaripara said that some of their houses are e
> also on the verge of collapse.
> Rabindra Das, the CPI (M) Branch Committee Secretary, informed us
> that 205 families lived in this Booth. 38 had fled earlier ..They
> have all now come back. He did not know however how many had now
> gone away. He had received 1.5 quintals of rice from his party for
> distribution amongst those who had just come home. He informed us
> that at the Khejuri camp they were given rice, pulses, oil, clothes
> etc. from the government, from other organizations and the party.
> By the time it was 4 o clock we found people assembling at the
> school and at a camp near a tea shop. A big banner put up in the
> CPI (M) camp Leave us alone. Outsiders do not interfere. The people
> want to live together and in peaceWe were told that everyone was
> getting ready for their compulsory evening ritual of marching for
> the party with red flags.
> The Role of the Administration: Relief On November 13th, we spent
> the entire night at a relief camp at a high school in Nandigram
> town. The team members conducted a quick survey to understand how
> many people were in the relief camp ad to assess their needs.
> The camp is in 24 rooms and in each room there are about 60-70
> people, including children and women. The camp therefore consists
> of about 1500 people. There are a number of very small children
> there we estimate that the number would be about 150, and these
> children are in need of special nutrition in the form of baby food
> or milk. About 500-700 people are living in houses of friends and
> relatives nearby and come to the camp for food everyday. Thus the
> camp on the 13th was catering to about 2000-2200 people.
> The cashier of the BUPC central committee who is in charge of the
> kitchen at the camp informed us that the camp have even more people
> a few days ago almost 4000 people. The Government is providing very
> few facilities to the camp. 15 quintals of rice were given on 9th
> November and another 10 quintals on 13th November on demand by
> social activists and Anuradha Talwar as advisor to the Supreme
> Court appointed Commissioner in the right to food case. These 25
> quintals of rice have been enough to provide only 3-4 meals for the
> huge numbers of people who are at the camp. The camp has to depend
> on whatever little collection they can do otherwise. On the day we
> were at the camp, rice was being provided only once a day, while
> the refugees were having muri or chiraat other times. People kept
> complaining of a shortage of food.
> No sanitation facilities have been provided at the camp. The entire
> population of 2500 people is dependent on a few public toilets that
> are available at a toilet complex nearby. Many of the camp dwellers
> ran away from their homes with only the clothes on their back,
> hence bedding and clothes are a very big problem. We found families
> sleeping on the bare floor with only a thin sheet on the ground and
> barely anything to cover themselves with in the winter season too.
> Infants and children, the aged and sick faced enormous difficulties.
> A number of camp dwellers are also suffering from trauma. We found
> a woman crying and screaming loudly at midnight. When questioned
> repeatedly, she could only say that her brother had been taken away
> and was being beaten up. She had had a nightmare. The lack of
> facilities in the camp and the non response of the District
> Magistrate to letters asking for relief citing Supreme Court orders
> on the Right to Food show that the Government is still taking a
> partisan approach. The severity of the violence inflicted again and
> again on the people of Nandigram and the criticism of the
> Governments actions by a wide range of people seems to have left
> them unmoved.
> The Role of the Administration: Security While we were at Nandigram
> on the 13th and 14th, we saw the CRPF being deployed in the town,
> There was huge presence of the State Armed Police also. Yet people
> in the camps were feeling insecure. The women staying at the camp
> reported that a few days ago, CPI (M) supporters had entered the
> camp and had threatened them and asked them to go home, emptying
> the camp. There were reports of young men who were BUPC supporters
> being picked up in front of the police and the CRPF by groups of
> 6-7 men on motorcycles and of their being taken to the CPI (M)
> party office. In front of us, the BUPC leadership went to the
> police station to complain about the abduction of one of their
> members, Mustafa, on 14th morning. The police phoned up the party
> office and Mustafa was released after that.
> On 14th morning we were told that CPI (M) supporters on motor
> cycles had gone through the town, tearing down BJP flags that were
> put up on the previous day for LK Advanis visit. They declared that
> only the CPI (M) flag could be put up. On the same night, at about
> 7 PM we heard slogan shouting outside the camp. Many of the women
> were shivering with fear. We were told that a CPI (M) procession
> was passing the relief camp and would do so a couple of times. We
> were told that this was happening everyday. The previous day about
> 50-100 motorcycle riders with bands on their heads had raced
> through the town, shouting slogans.
> We also found on 14th night, that no police was posted at the gate
> of the relief camp. The matter was reported to the DIG CRPF when we
> met him later at night. He assured us that he would visit the
> relief camp the next day and ensure a guard.
> Those living at relatives places also complained of intimidation.
> People living in room number 19 in the relief camp from
> Shyamsundari Chak, Simulkundu and Sonachura told us Those who have
> taken shelter at relatives places are also not safe. The party
> people are coming and asking which village they are from, what
> their names are what party they belong to. They are pressurising
> the relatives to send the refugees back to their own homes. And
> when one goes home, one gets beaten there.
> The BUPC put in a request asking for 12 CRPF camps inside the
> villages. (list in Annexure 2) .The CRPF had only started two camps
> in the villages. A third one was at Khudambari (to protest CPI (M)
> leaders, said the BUPC leadership sarcastically) and a fourth in
> Nandigram town itself. The DIG CRPF felt he did not have enough
> person power to set up so many camps.
> The news from Nandigram received yesterday, Nov 18 is that CRPF
> camps are to be removed from the Relief camps in the Nandigram
> school and villages and shifted to the borders near Khejuri. This
> has made the BUPC supporters, refugees in the camp and in the
> villages very, very insecure.
> The Commander, CRPF Alok Raj has publicly complained of non -
> cooperation by the West Bengal government.
> Operation Nandigram, the capture and subjugation of rebellious
> villages in Nandigram area, is not an aberration or a mistake. It
> is a planned action with full coordination between the state
> administration and the party. The proof for this is overwhelming-
> arms, criminals and party goons were assembled in a planned manner;
> police camps were removed to allow the harmad to function freely;
> in spite of appeals and complaints by the victims to the police,
> the police took little or no action to stop the violence; capture
> of villages was planned like a war campaign, with village after
> village being invaded and the strong holds left for the last; human
> shields were used to subdue the most rebellious areas; media,
> opposition leaders and civil society was shut out to ensure that
> the capture was without hindrance; after capture, looting, beating
> and intimidation has followed along with indoctrination and forced
> marches in processions to subdue any rebellion that may remain;
> relief camps are being seen as centres where the BUPC can regroup,
> so the attempt is to force people out of the camp and other
> shelters and to send them home again; rumors of finding Maoist arms
> and literature are being spread to justify the invasion; and,
> finally the CPI(M) leadership continues to make provocative,
> irresponsible statements to justify its action and to rally its
> The Maoist bogey has been invoked to justify many of the actions.
> What evidence did we find of this? A land mine that appeared stage
> managed? Accusations by a crowd of villagers of finding Maoist
> literature and arms, with no physical evidence to back their
> accusations? Perhaps we had gone to a very small area. Perhaps the
> bombs are in Sonachura, you may say. However, we talked to at least
> 150-200 people both from the CPI (M) and BUPC. Not one of them
> mentioned armed resistance by the BUPC. On the other hand, many of
> the CPI (M) supporters admitted that war was waged to get them
> home. The CPI (M) has also not been able to show the most
> irrefutable evidence of Maoist or BUPC armed resistance - injured
> or dead CPI (M) supporters. All the wounded we met were BUPC
> supporters victims of the harmad attack.
> It has always been clear, as it was during this visit also, that no
> matter how much our town bred intellectuals and media may shout to
> the contrary; this is not a TMC versus CPI (M) fight. The BUPC is
> not a TMC outfit. Nor is it a Maoist outfit. So this is also not a
> Left versus ultra Left issue. The BUPC consists of angry villagers
> from the Nandigram villages who have rebelled against the CPI (M)s
> oppressive ways and its bullying tactics to take away their land.
> These villagers are from the TMC, the SUCI, the Jamaite Ulema Hind,
> CPI (ML), and Congress and also most importantly even from the CPI
> (M) itself.
> The sad truth is that there are now villages in Nandigram that are
> sharply divided and neighbours are at war with each other. It is
> true that some people were in refuge camps in Khejuri- for11 months
> or for less. There may be a dispute about numbers, but it cannot be
> disputed that these people are bitter and are backed by a powerful
> party and the state administration. They want to get their own back
> on the BUPC members. They also must have the Panchayat elections on
> their minds - if they lose these elections they may get beaten up
> again, with village politics in rural Bengal always taking this
> kind of an ugly turn. Mediation between these warring groups is
> necessary. A fair and unbiased administration can do this, but will
> that be possible?
> The line that should firmly exist between the party and the
> administration has been wiped away. Can it be re-established?
> People from both sides of the political divide need food and other
> daily necessities; they need help to rebuild their houses. Many
> have lost all their possessions. Many have been without work for
> many months and this must have meant a serious erosion of resources
> for those who are already on the brink of poverty. Intimidation by
> the CPI (M) of the BUPC members is continuing. The reverse may also
> happen in a few pockets on a much more minor scale. The
> administration must show the maturity to deal with all groups in an
> even handed manner. It must punish the guilty, provide food and
> homes to the needy and protect the weak. But will that happen?
> Civil society groups and peoples organisations with sensitive,
> peace-supporting ctivists must reach and interact with the people
> in camps and communities. Before all this, CPM and the West Bengal
> government must be compelled to take a political and official
> decision to withdraw all armed forces and publicly announce
> protection to the families, resident of villages since decades.
> NHRC must bring out an interim report with clear directives for the
> state and central governments and ensure that those are implemented.
> Medha Patkar, Anuradha Talwar, Debjit Dutt, Swapna Tripathi, Bijoya
> Chanda, on behalf of the team of activists who visited Nandigram
> which included Amita Bagh, Atmaram Saraogi, Meher Engineer, Gautam
> Bandopadhyay, Subranshu, Dr Tarun Mondal, Shyam Bihari Singh,
> Biswajit, Chandan Pal and many others.
> Annexure 1:
> Background: Events That Preceded Our Visit
> We give below a chronology of the events since mid October that
> preceded our visit. This has been done from news reports. For
> events before October, please see Annexure 1
> October 19th - 26th 2007:- Reports filter in that police camps are
> being withdrawn from various points in Nandigram and that known
> criminal gangs and harmad are being amassed in Khejuri.
> October 27th 2007 :- In an attack by the harmad, one dead and four
> injured including two school going boys.
> October 28, 2007:- Bomb exploded in Sherkhan chawk near Khejuri. 5
> CPI (M) harmad dead and four injured. BUPC members houses were
> attacked and ransacked by the harmad Mamata Bannerjee, leader of
> the opposition party, Congress fired at Tekhali Bridge in Nandigram.
> October 29, 2007, the harmad enter Takapura, Kamalpur and
> Ranichowk. 16 houses belonging to BUPC supporters were set ablaze
> at Takapura. Media access to Nandigram is restricted.
> October 30, 2007, harmad from Khejuri fire on a peaceful rally of
> thousands of BUPC supporters who were on their way from Nandigram
> to Tekhali. Bombing and firing from Khejuri on the houses of BUPC
> members at Satangabari, Ranichowk, Takapura, Kamalpur, Giribazar
> and few other villages. Armed miscreants, allegedly hired by the CPI
> (M), attacked Ranichowk village and set fire to two houses of BUPC
> supporters and looted yet a few. There was one death and 10
> injured. Three scribes belonging to three separate media houses
> were beaten up and TMC leader Mr. Partha Chattopadhyay alleged that
> he was not allowed to visit the areas under attack.
> October 31, 2007 Harmad bombs Bhangabera.
> November 01, 2007 at the 4th conference of the CPI (M) Nandakumar
> zonal committee, in Srikishnapur High School, Mr. Laxman Seth, CPI
> (M) MP, exhorted his party men. "We have been pushed to the wall.
> The only option now is to kill or get killed. We have to fight till
> the last drop of blood in our bodies,
> November 02, 2007 Harmad from Khejuri started firing while
> policemen deployed in the area turned a blind eye. All entry points
> into Nandigram have been sealed off by the cadres and there were
> attempts to take control over villages. Huge arms were amassed at
> Bhangabera, Tulaghata, Tekhali Bazaar, Takapura, Kamalpur, and
> Reyapara. In Hanschora near Nandigram, CPI (M) supporters stopped a
> bus and searched every person on board. Women faced sexual
> November 03, 2007 Satangabari reduced to a virtual graveyard by
> harmad and the firing continued unabated. More than 200 thatched
> houses were burned to ashes after they were looted and ransacked,
> rendering approximately 1,000 people homeless. The homeless took
> shelter in makeshift camps or under the open sky.
> November 04, 2007 the CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat
> prescribed " Dum Dum Dawai" (severe bashing â€" a slogan of the
> sixties advocating public thrashing for the corrupt) as a solution
> for Nandigram in the presence of Chief Minister Buddhadeb
> November 05, 2007 Harmad rained bombs and fired shots from Khejuri
> side.In the wee hours of the morning, nearly 500 armed offenders
> tried to cross the Talpatti canal and enter Nandigram. BUPC
> members, guarding the bridge, blew conch shells. Over 3,000
> villagers formed a human wall to block the advancement of the
> invaders. The attackers retreated, but another attack was launched
> around 10.30 a.m. Police remained silent spectators.
> November 6, 2007, nine villages were torched by the harmad. Three
> declared dead officially, actual number suspected to be larger.
> Armed cadres initially entered Satangabari, Ranichawk, Bhangabera
> and Sonachura. Later in the day, they entered Simulkunda,
> Kanungochak, Satangabari, Uttarpurbapally, Girirbazar,
> Brindabanchak and Akandabari and set houses on fire. At least
> 15,000 people were hounded out of their homes and many of them had
> to be given shelter at relief camps set up at Nandigram .The state
> home secretary Mr. Prasad Ranjan Roy admitted that firing started
> from Khejuri, a clear admission that CPI-M cadres unleashed the
> violence. Mr. Ray admitted there had been virtually no police
> presence in the areas like Gokulnagar, Ranichawk, Bhangabera and
> Satangabari which turned into a "war zone" witnessing "widespread
> November 7, 2007 police picket on the strategic Tekhali Bridge in
> Nandigram removed. Armed harmad crossed the Talpatti canal
> andstormed several villages. Hundreds of armed men entered
> Maheshpur in Nandigram, nearly 4 kilometers beyond Tekhali Bridge.
> Two injured on November 5, 2007, passed away, taking the official
> death toll to five. Harmad took control of several villages,
> including Satangabari, Keyakhali, Brindabanchak and Ranichawk.
> Several houses in Roynagar and Jhatiboni were torched. At least
> 3,000 more villagers were rendered homeless, total homeless being
> 25000The CPI (M) formed camps at Reyapara, Mograjpur, Sashigunge
> Bazaar, and several other places on both sides of the Chandipur-
> Nandigram Road to seal off Nandigram from the rest of the world.
> November 8, 2007 Our team of 25-30 activists, intellectuals and
> academicians was ambushed in Kapaseria village and refused
> admission into Nandigram, in spite of a police escort. The glass
> window panes of our vehicles were smashed, driver, some press
> activists, including Medha Patkar were beaten by male cadres of CPI-
> M and others manhandled. Trinamool MP Mukul Roy, MLA Subhendu
> Adhikari and Congress Legislative Party Chief Whip, Manas Bhuiyan
> were also assaulted at another place and time as was reported in
> the media and were not allowed to enter the affected area and even
> relief material was prevented from entering. The Bar Association
> was also barred from entering the villages. The police stood by and
> watched. Homeless people staged a dharna in front of Nandigram
> police station in the afternoon alleging police inaction but were
> later chased away by policemen with tear gas shells and firing.
> November 09, 2007 in a strong criticism of the Nandigram carnage,
> Honorable Governor Mr. Gopalkrishna Gandhi termed the manner in
> which the villages in Nandigram were recaptured as "unlawful and
> unacceptable" and described the area, "as the Home Secretary aptly
> put it, as a virtual war zone".
> November 10, 2007 harmad fired on unarmed peace processions of
> BUPC. With road blocks and entry of media barred and total non
> cooperation by the police in rescue operation, unconfirmed reports
> put the toll as high as 100 with bodies being fished out of a
> canal. Police would confirm only three deaths, including a woman,
> and at least 13 others injured. BUPC alleged that 600 villagers,
> many of whom had received bullet injuries, had been abducted by the
> harmad. Two women alleged gang rape. Those captured, were taken to
> the Amratala Khejuri Primary School and tortured by harmad. 11 of
> them rescued by the police. An ambulance driven by CPI (M) cadres
> carrying fourteen dead bodies on its way to Belda on West Mednipur
> was stopped by TMC workers at Egra. The Janani brick kiln was used
> by the cadres for disposing bodies in its chimneys. 8 CPI (M)
> cadres were caught smuggling out injured persons from amongst BUPC
> members in a Panchayat car (belonging to Khejuri I Panchayat
> Samiti) at Egra. BUPC supporters gheraoed Nandigram police station,
> alleging inaction. Policemen allegedly resorted to lathi charge.
> All entry points to Nandigram remained blocked 2 days hunger strike
> by civil society started in Kolkata
> November 11, 2007 saw an intensification of protests by the civil
> society in Kolkata and elsewhere. 8 persons from Sonachura,
> Nandigram managed to escape and reach the venue of the protest in
> Esplanade. CRPF contingent making its way to Nandigram was attacked
> and chased back by CPI (M) cadres in Reyapara and Chandipur.
> Shyamal Chakraborty, CPI (M) State Secretary said with pride We
> have taken over Nandigram, and made it terror free.
> November 12th 2007 Terror continues in Nandigram. Trucks of relief
> material, with civil society activists and intellectuals, blocked
> by CPI (M) cadres in various places, in spite of court orders
> allowing free passage. NHRC decided to send investigation team to
> Nandigram. CRPF also starts entering Nandigram
> November 13th 2007 NDA team reaches Nandigram. Civil society
> activists reach Nandigram with relief materials. High Court passes
> order asking for free passage to be assured.
> Annexure 2:
> Chronology of Events in Nandigram
> 31st July 2006:- West Bengal government signed MoU with the Salim
> Group of Indonesia for establishment of a chemical hub
> August 2006 to December 2006:- Two independent people's
> organisations named "Gana Unnayan and Jana Adhikar Sangram
> Samiti" (Association for The Struggle for Peoples Development and
> Rights) and "Krishi Jami O Janaswartha Raksha Committee" (Committee
> for protection of agricultural lands and public interest) are
> formed and began movement against chemical hub.
> 29th December 2006:- In a public meeting, Lakshman Seth, Chairman
> of Haldia Development Authority (HDA) and CPI (M) MP, announces
> their firm determination to have chemical hub in Nandigram.
> 2nd January 2007:- Notice from HDA on 29 mouzas to be acquired
> reaches Nandigram.
> 3rd January 2007:- People go to Garchakraberia GP to ask about
> notice. Unprovoked police action on them, when they are returning.
> 5 injured in police firing. Police jeep meets accident. Policemen
> captured by mob but returned unharmed. Roads begin to be cut and
> barricades are put up to prevent entry of police.
> 5th January 2007:- Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee formed by
> merger of two committees and all other political groups in the
> Nandigram area. Many CPM rank and files join the BUPC.
> 6th January 2007:- Police camp at Bhangabera Bridge packed up.
> People see armed CPI (M) goons (locally known as harmad) coming
> into the village by boats at night.
> 7th January 2007:- 4 persons die due to gun fire by harmad from the
> house of Shankar Samanta, a CPI (M) leader. An enraged mob attacks
> the house and chases out the harmad. Shankar Samanta is lynched by
> the mob.
> January to March 2007:- Nandigram villages do not allow police to
> enter. Some CPI (M) leaders flee. Schools, pulse polio, ICDS
> centres etc. continue. 3 Panchayats stop functioning as CPM leaders
> are also Panchayat Pradhans and members. People live in constant
> fear that their land will be taken away and that the harmad will
> invade. Skirmishes along the Talpatti canal between the BUPC masses
> and the harmads arms are reported. Government states that the HAD
> notice was a mistake, but does not give anything in writing. People
> get mixed signals- an economic blockade is tried on Nandigram by
> the CPM, CPM camps on the road to Nandigram search vehicles,
> intellectuals and activists travelling into Nandigram are harassed,
> CPM leaders make provocative statements.
> 1th -13th March 2007:- BUPC leaders including TMC MLAs sent faxes
> and appeals to the Government saying they fear an attack on
> Nandigram. Police is amassed on the Khejuri side. An all party
> meeting with BUPC absent decides that the police must go in.
> 14th March 2007:- BUPC organises a Pooja and Namaaz reading to
> resist the police invasion. In a combined harmadâ€"police action,
> 14 die, at least 85 people are hospitalised, over 200-300 people
> are injured; many more have eye injuries due to tear gas. Reports
> of missing people pour in, the harmad and police go in for a
> looting and burning spree. Reports of gang rape and molestation of
> women in huge numbers pour in. Reports of children being killed,
> bodies being disposed off abound.
> 15th March 2007:- The mayhem continues. High Court gives order for
> a CBI enquiry, with a report to be submitted within a week.
> 16th March 2007:- CBI team reaches Nandigram, with a stop to
> March 2007 to October 2007:- Nandigram situation continues as a
> stalemate. In April, Government officially withdraws plans for SEZ.
> However it refuses to consider compensation for those killed,
> injured and raped on March 14th 2007.Nor is any process of
> identifying and punishing the guilty started. Peace talks between
> political parties are tried in a half hearted manner and fail.
> The BUPC is never called for peace talks at the state level. CPM
> claims that about 3500 of its members and supporters have been
> forced to flee. Attempts to meet them by many civil rights groups
> do not meet with much success. Skirmishes along the Talpatti canal
> continue. It gradually takes on the feel of a civil war with a
> border in between Khejuri and Nandigram. Police camps are
> established inside Nandigram, but police stands by idly whenever
> there are skirmishes. People in Nandigram villages start gradually
> to put their lives together again. Paddy is sown, economic and
> other activities are again becoming normal.
> Annexure 3: Demand for emergency CRPF camp
> The BUPC had demanded CRPF camps for the following positions.
> 1. Sonachura
> 2. Gar Chakkraberia
> 3. Hazrakata
> 4. Basuli Chawk- Lock Gate
> 5. Tekhali Bazar
> 6. Maheshpur
> 7. Rani Chawk
> 8. Satangabari
> 9. Girir Bazar
> 10. Takapura Basic School
> 11. Kamalpur
> 12. Akandobari
> 13. Dawoodpur
> 14. Jambari
> Annexure 4 (Available on request)
> Nandigram B.M. Pal B.P.H.C.
> Document of injured persons attended Nandigram B.M. Pal B.P.H.C. on
> 10/11/07 & other dates
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