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Nandi rues lack of action on promises

Tamluk, June 13: Since coming to power, the Mamata Banerjee government has been working overtime to fulfil the promise of returning forcibly acquired land to Singur’s disgruntled farmers but Nandigram, the other milestone in the chief minister’s political career, is still waiting empty-handed.

Mamata, whose anti-land acquisition movement in Nandigram turned around her political fortunes and paved the way for her success at the hustings, is yet to make any announcements for the place that she had termed “blessed land” and promised to give “anything” it wanted.

“Mamata Banerjee has forgotten us after becoming chief minister. CPM cadres and police had tortured us during the land movement in 2007. Fourteen people were killed in police firing and scores are still missing. But the guilty are yet to be punished. Mamata’s government is almost a month old but she has not taken any steps to bring the guilty to book,” said Sabuj Pradhan, a local Congress worker who had been arrested after the announcement of the Assembly polls and is now out on bail.

Pradhan, who had been a member of the Trinamul-led Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), said several of those who had taken part in the anti-land acquisition movement “were implicated in false cases”. “But these cases are yet to be withdrawn. While campaigning in Nandigram, Mamata had promised to withdraw all such cases of political vendetta. But nothing has been done so far,” he said.

Purnendu Bera of Nandigram’s Gokulnagar village said: “On the very first day after taking oath as chief minister, Mamata had announced that the land taken from unwilling farmers in Singur would be returned. But there has been no major announcements for us.

“We love our new chief minister but I am sorry to say that even though she has taken a lot of important decisions on the state’s development, not for once has she mentioned Nandigram.”

Purnendu’s father Aditya, a retired subedar, has been missing since November 10, 2007, when the CPM recaptured Nandigram. “As there is no proof that he is dead, we no longer get his pension. I had hoped that Mamata would at least order a probe to find out how so many people went missing after the CPM’s recapture. But nothing of that sort has happened. She still has not announced any financial benefits for families like ours,” Purnendu said.

The next of kin of each of those killed in the March 14 police firing had received compensation of Rs 5 lakh. Those who suffered injuries got Rs 1 lakh each. “But there are many others who were killed and injured in the land war. They have not got any compensation,” said Dipika Das Adhikary, 62, a housewife.

“During her campaign here, Mamata had promised a hospital, a market and other development projects for Nandigram. But neither any government official nor any political leader has visited us so far. We are still waiting,” Dipika said.

Trinamul leader Abu Taher, the deputy chief of the Nandigram block-I panchayat samiti, also sounded disappointed. “The new government has not announced any development projects for this place. No official has come to carry out surveys,” he said.

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