Nandigram, Nov. 9: The CPM army captured new areas today and their gunshots scared away Trinamul Congress supporters trying to return home, making a mockery of yesterday’s ceasefire call.
“They stormed Kanchannagar, Daudpur, Samsabad, Chakchilinga in the afternoon,” said an officer posted at Nandigram police station.
District magistrate Anup Agarwal asked Nandigram officer-in-charge Champak Chowdhury to hold a peace meeting at the police station.
“But the OC refused. He told the DM that there might be violence if the meeting was called inside the station,” an East Midnapore official said.
The meeting, the OC said, should be held in Tamluk, 65km away.
Hundreds of villagers who had fled home since the CPM launched its offensive had hoped to return home after yesterday’s call for truce.
“I turned back and fled with my wife after hearing the shots. CPM cadres also chased us for a while,” said Sheikh Safiul Islam, 30, of Daudpur.
His family has been living in one of the five refugee camps in Nandigram Bazaar for the past few days.
“My mother is ill but we have not been able to take her to a doctor. There’s so much violence…” Safiul’s wife Sabina Yasmeen said while feeding their three-year-old son.
The government’s decision to send police to Nandigram was not implemented. Senior officers said they had not received any such instruction.
Superintendent S.S. Panda said: “We are yet to get an additional force, either from the state or the Centre. Considering the violent situation, it is impossible to send policemen inside Nandigram.”
The police, however, set up a camp in Tekhali, which the CPM has taken control of.
“The police were sent to protect CPM supporters who returned home after nine months. The government’s intention is clear. What can we do'” said an officer of the Nandigram police station.
The Trinamul-led Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee tonight faxed messages to the President, Prime Minister, the UPA chairperson, the governor and the chief minister accusing the police of sitting back while “CPM cadres are attacking and killing the people of Nandigram”.
Its convener, Abu Taher, said the villagers would march from Nandigram town to Maheshpur tomorrow. “If the CPM opens fire, one lakh people will stand in silent protest.”
Debashis Das of Satengabari would be in it. Yesterday, he was hopeful of returning home with his wife Sabitri and two children before Kali Puja.
A CPM mob blocked journalists’ entry into Nandigram. Jamait Ulema-i-Hind general secretary Siddiqullah Chowdhury was arrested on the way.