Sunday, November 11, 2007

Turf battle continues in Nandigram

Sunday, 11 November , 2007, 13:30

Kolkata: A day after gun battles raged in West Bengal's Nandigram claiming two lives, tension continued to simmer in the region. Ripples of the tension were also felt in Kolkata, the seat of power of the 30-year-old communist regime, with the non-Marxist constituents of the Left Front keeping the heat on the government to act.

West Bengal Public Works Department Minister Kshiti Goswami, of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) who had on Saturday desired to resign from the government in protest, said he would not attend his office from Monday.

Nandigram in East Midnapore district erupted in gun battles on Saturday after activists of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) allegedly fired on an unarmed procession of rival Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) members, killing two and injuring several others.

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Meanwhile, the three Left Front allies - the Forward Bloc, RSP and Communist Party of India (CPI) - have called an emergency meeting Sunday of the "mini-front" to discuss the situation in Nandigram.

"We, all three Left partners, have called the meeting to discuss the issue of fresh violence in Nandigram. All senior party leaders are expected to attend the meeting," CPI state secretary Manju Kumar Majumdar told IANS.

Majumdar said that his party would act upon the decision taken by the left partners at the meeting.

Senior CPI leader and West Bengal Water Resource Development Minister Nanda Gopal Bhattacharya said the meeting would decide how to initiate peace process and stop violence in Nandigram.

A disgruntled Kshiti Goswami said, "It's the sole responsibility of the state government to protect people in Nandigram. I don't know if they are CPI-M or Trinamool Congress activists. To me, they all are human beings."

However, some TV channels reported of sporadic firing in some areas like Tekhali in the area. The channels say five people were killed in the violence, but the official death toll was two till Sunday morning.

"The situation is volatile and fresh gun battles can start any minute," said a photojournalist covering the violence in Nandigram.

Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, whose convoy was stopped near Kolaghat Saturday night by the CPI-M cadres, has left for Nandigram.

The fresh violence on Saturday prompted the Trinamool Congress chief to resign as MP.

In Kolkata, the intelligentsia rallied behind a fasting Medha Patkar and other human rights activists as they boycotted a state-organised film festival.

Over the past week, the CPI-M launched a massive offensive against the BUPC in Nandigram to regain its lost 'bases'. Their cadres entered village after village and allegedly torched houses belonging to the rival groups.

Violence in Nandigram has claimed 34 lives since January, when the region flared up over proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ). The state government scrapped the plan later in the face of stiff resistance.

However, a turf battle continues in Nandigram between the CPI-M and the BUPC in the run-up to local bodies elections in May next year.

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