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Club issues ‘Nandigram threat’ to widow

Krishnagar, June 24: Some youths in Nadia have threatened a “Nandigram-like” agitation if they are evicted from a plot that legally belongs to a 60-year-old widow.

Almost 80 per cent of Shephali Saha’s plot has been taken over by members of Kishore Sangha. They have built their clubhouse there and branded Shephali a Bangladeshi.

According to official documents, Shephali is an Indian citizen. The domestic help has lived on the plot in Badkulla, 75 km from Calcutta, for 42 years.

Shephali had begun working in the household of a rich farmer, Nagendra Bhowmik, in 1966. He died in 1992, leaving no direct heir to his property.

Bhowmik’s relatives, who live in Calcutta, and Shephali appealed to the government for a share of his property.

The government gave Shephali 5 cottahs in the year 2000. Bhowmik’s relatives also got their share, but sold the plots.

The panchayat, which has given Shephali residence and citizenship certificates, supports her in the land dispute with the club.

But despite an order from sub-divisional officer Shiu Kumar Ram, Hanskhali police have not evicted the youths.

The SDO’s order, based on an inquiry report, said Shephali was the owner of the plot. “The police are ordered to act under the provision of law and restore the petitioner’s possession of land which she lost after the encroachment in December 2006,” the order said.

The club members threatened a violent agitation similar to Nandigram’s if they were forced out.

“She (Shephali) is a Bangladeshi; she cannot own a plot here. We are ready to die for the land. If the police try to evict us, we shall resist like the people of Nandigram,” said Ganesh Saha, the club’s secretary.

An officer of Hanskhali police, on condition of anonymity, said that after the police firing in Nandigram, all police stations have been told to handle eviction cases with care.

“If the club members really put up a stiff resistance to an eviction attempt and we are forced to fire, we shall be in trouble,” he said.

“We cannot overlook the issue of law and order… we don’t want to rush things. We have to wait and see how we can settle the matter amicably,” the Nadia additional superintendent of police, Subrata Mitra, said when asked why the police were not stirring.

District magistrate Onkar Singh Meena said he had sought a report from the district superintendent of police on why the SDO’s order was not being implemented. “After getting the SP’s report, I promise to take appropriate action,” Meena said.

Shephali continues to live alone in terror. The club members have told her that no one can visit her without their permission. “I don’t know when my nightmare will end and I shall be able to live peacefully on my own land,” she said.

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