Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, Oct. 29: Holding the Maoists responsible for the recent trouble in Nandigram, chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said the state government had requisitioned Central forces to establish a rule of law in the trouble-torn area (The Union home minister called the chief minister last night to take stock of the situation). But at the same time, Mr Bhattacharjee, made it clear that the state would not initiate police action at the moment as he did not want to repeat the 14 March incident in which 14 people were killed in police firing. He preferred to deal with the situation politically instead. He said the Opposition parties lacked political will to solve the problem and trashed Miss Mamata Banerjee's claim that her convoy
had been fired upon yesterday.
He said that the state government's writ had not run in Nandigram for the past 10 months, despite an announcement that no land would be acquired there for a proposed chemical hub. (In fact, the Centre too got into the act today to try and calm the situation, stating that there was no proposal to set up an SEZ at Nandigram. A Union commerce ministry statement said: "No SEZ is being set up at Nandigram. Also, there is no application proposing to set up an SEZ at Nandigram").
The chief minister said no development work could be undertaken in Nandigram-I block and in parts of Nandigram-II block. Block development officials were coming to work but have failed to
operationalise, as it were, any development plans. Panchayats had the money, but no work could be undertaken, he said. A police station was there but policemen were prevented from moving freely, he added. "But armed persons and Naxalites are moving freely there (in Nandigram). We have specific information of the Naxalites. Maoist leader Ranjit Pal who is accused of killing Sudhir Mahato, is present there with his group. APDR's outfit Bandi Mukti Committee also has a
presence there. But we want peace. We are appealing to the Opposition to hold talks with the district authorities so that problem could be solved," Mr Bhattacharjee said.
"People are suffering as no developmental work could be undertaken. 1,500 CPI-M supporters are yet to go back to their villages. They had been driven out of their homes early this year. But we are still willing to talk to the Opposition," he added. When asked why the state government had failed to straighten the law and order situation in Nandigram,
the chief minister said: "I won't call it a failure of the state government. Inhospitable terrain helps the gun runners. I have not thought of deploying Army because I believe good sense will prevail.
Union home minister Mr Shivraj Patil had called me yesterday to find out how things were in Nandigram. I told him that the state has requisitioned one battalion of CRPF personnel," Mr Bhattacharjee added.
The chief minister also questioned Trinamul chief Miss Mamata Banerjee's will to solve the problem. "We have declared no land would be acquired there but still the Bhumi Uchched Protirodh Committee exists. I ask why? If there is a political will, the problem can be solved." Referring to reports of an attack on Miss Mamata Banerjee's motorcade in Nandigram, Mr Bhattacharjee said: "There is no basis of her allegation. She had adequate security."
The West Bengal Human Rights Commission suo motu sought a report from the chief secretary on the recent violence in Nandigram.