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Body decaying, brother too scared to claim it

Haldia, Jan. 9: Nabakumar Samanta cannot claim his elder brother’s body. It is rotting in the morgue at the district hospital in Tamluk.

A mob opposed to land acquisition in Nandigram battered Sankar Samanta, 44, to death on Saturday night.

Nabakumar’s other brother Bhabani was beaten unconscious and left for dead by the mob that also torched their house at Sonachura village.

Nabakumar, 35, cannot go to claim Sankar’s body as he does not have any document to prove his identity.

“I was away from home when the trouble broke out. All my identity papers... the voter’s I-card, the ration card... were in the house that was burnt. I can go to the Nandigram police station and request for an identity document. But I am scared. The area is crawling with those belonging to the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee. They’ll kill me if they see me,” said Nabakumar, sitting on the parapet of a veranda in a Haldia house where the Samantas are now living.

Sankar, a pro-CPM Independent member of the Sonachura village panchayat, had been forced to side with the acquisition protesters.

After his murder, the Samantas fled to Haldia, where the CPM provided them shelter.

Sankar was an affluent farmer, owning about 12 bighas, a sawmill and a husking mill. He lived with his parents, a college-going son, daughter, who is in Class X, two brothers, their wives and children.

Seventy-year-old Sudhanshu has not eaten since he saw the mob drag his two sons by the hair on Saturday night.

“It was around 10.30. About 100 people armed with crowbars, rods and sticks stormed into our house. They dragged out Sankar and Bhabani. I started shaking in fear and would have collapsed had my grandson not come to rescue,” he said.

Sankar’s son Partha is yet to recover from the shock of hearing his father and uncle yelling for mercy.

“We were all turned out of the house as a section of the mob set it ablaze. I was scared to run after them. But I followed them from a distance. They beat my father to death and threw him into a burning haystack. My uncle became unconscious and the mob thought he was dead,” said Partha.

The young man added that his father and uncle were forced to join the villagers’ movement on Wednesday.

“But my father objected when they started digging up the roads and destroying culverts. He tried to tell them that the roads were constructed following a sustained movement by the villagers over the past few years. He pointed out to them how the area was inaccessible earlier and people had to push through knee-deep mud to reach Sonachura.”

Sudhanshu said the villagers accused Sankar of double-dealing. “They said he wanted to keep the roads intact for the police and CPM cadres to come in. After the first bombs were hurled, they shouted at him ‘see what would have happened had the roads been intact’.”

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