IMRAN AHMED SIDDIQUI
|A mother and child in a camp for the homeless being run by the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee. Telegraph picture|
Nandigram, Nov. 10: Her leg fractured, Gita Mondal lay sobbing in a camp, a three-day-old infant by her side.
Her husband Anurag huddled close to her, eyes blank with despair.
The young couple had fled their home on Monday night, crawled through fields of paddy and walked miles before getting on a cycle-van to reach the camp, where Gita gave birth to the girl on Thursday.
Part of the way, Anurag had even carried his 25-year-old pregnant wife after she fell and fractured her left leg.
"For a moment, I thought I would have a miscarriage," Gita cried.
The couple may have es- caped death by a whisker, but they don't know if they can ever return to their home in Satengabari.
They aren't the only ones staring at an uncertain future. A few thousand villagers from Daudpur, Amgechhia, Jambari, Simulkundu, Brindabanchowk, Tekhali, Nainan, Kanungochowk, Takapura, Satengabari, Ranichowk, Kamalpur and Keyakhali have been living in refugee camps in Nandigram town since CPM mobs stormed these villages and forced them to flee.
All these villages found mention in governor Gopal-krishna Gandhi's press release where he said people had been "intimidated into leaving their homes".
Around 60 families from Satengabari have taken shelter in a Nandigram school and nearby camps.
"But death can come any moment. What will happen to our daughters then?" whispered Daudpur resident Lakshmi Sasmal, 55. "The chief minister should come and kill us with his own hands if he cannot stop his men."
Her husband Nemai sat facing a wall.
The couple were planning their eldest daughter's wedding when the Red Brigade in- vaded the village. Their three daughters were asleep in another room. "They attacked from all sides. We came out of the house and ran towards Nandigram town," Nemai, who owns three bighas, said.
Now he doesn't know if he can ever go back. Even if he does, he has to build his home from scratch. The raiders had torched it before leaving the village.
Forty-five-year-old Ram Das and his wife Bimala were heading back home towards Ranichowk when the fresh violence began.
"We heard gunshots and returned to the camp where we had been staying. Later, we came to know that our house had been torched like those of the others in our village," Bimala said.
The couple's two sons — one 18, the other 16 — are staying with a relative in Sonachura. "But they are not safe there, too, as the CPM cadres will attack Sonachura now," Bimala said.
Ashok Sarkar, the Nandigram I block divisional officer, said nearly 10,000 people have taken shelter in the four camps. "They are living in pathetic conditions. We have asked police to give them protection. But the police are in no-man's land here," he said, welcoming the move to send central forces to Nandigram.
For people like Gita and Anurag, the decision may have come too late. "We don't know if we can keep our baby alive," Gita mumbled between her tears. "The firing doesn't seem to stop."