The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Missing, from peace march

Nandigram, Nov. 20: At least 32 people who had protested against the CPM’s bloody recapture of Nandigram are missing, according to the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee.

They could not be traced after the Red Army’s attack on a villagers’ procession in Maheshpur on November 10. The families of two have narrated to police eyewitness accounts of their men falling to bullets and being dragged away.

Pratirodh Committee leaders had submitted a list of 42 missing people to Nandigram police station on November 14. Ten have returned home since from places where they had fled.

East Midnapore superintendent of police S.S. Panda said: “We will investigate each case.”

Krishna Maji of Sonachura came to the Nandigram police station this morning with eight-year-old daughter Sonali to collect a receipt for the complaint she lodged yesterday. Her husband Subal, 37, is among the 32.

“With cousin Sripati, he was marching in the procession on November 10. Sripati saw my husband fall after a bullet hit him in the leg. CPM cadres took him away,” said Krishna, 32.

“That is the last time we saw him,” said Sripati, who accompanied Krishna to the police station.

Subrata Samanta, 24, who fell to a bullet near the Bhangabera bridge eight months ago — on March 14 — and was allegedly dragged away towards Khejuri by the police, could not be traced.

Narayan Das, 50, was allegedly hit in the leg and also taken to Khejuri on November 10.

His son, Shankar, 27, has lodged a complaint.

“Neighbour Gautam Mondal said the Red Brigade surrounded my father moments after he slumped to the ground,” said Shankar.

He came to the police station after looking for his father in hospitals in Nandigram, Egra, Tamluk and Calcutta.

Police camps were tonight set up at Garchakraberia and Maheshpur. Panda said three others — at Adhikarypara, Daudpur and Amdabad — would come up soon.

District magistrate Anup Agarwal had asked the police to set up camps at the five places after an all-party meeting last week.

“The committee has urged us to set up another one at Kamalpur. We will set up more if necessary,” the superintendent said.

Pratirodh Committee leaders, however, want the police to focus on the missing.

Swadesh, a member of the Nandigram I panchayat samiti, saw fellow committee leader Aditya Bera, 65, taking a bullet in the leg in Maheshpur. “When he tried to get up, he was shot in the back,” he said.

Bera, from Gokulnagar, was a retired army man.

Bimal Mondal, whose name figured on the initial list of 42, has returned home, though.

“When the firing started, I ran for my life. I went to a relative’s house in Baratala,” he said.

As news of the new police camps spread tonight, many people started getting ready to return home from relief camps.

“Fifty people from 21 families returned to Maheshpur,” said Bhabani Das, committee convener.

Block development officer Ashok Sarkar met the chiefs of the 10 village panchayats in Nandigram today to discuss development work. Seven CPM leaders, two from Trinamul and one from the Congress attended the meeting.

The first such meeting in seven months decided to give priority to repair of roads and distribution of relief among the homeless.

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