Tamluk, May 8: The CPM in East Midnapore has alleged that police had prevented the party from campaigning in three Nandigram villages where the anti-land acquisition movement started in 2007 and 14 persons were killed in police firing.
The police denied having barred the CPM from campaigning at Sonachura, Gokulnagar and Kalicharanpur but added that it had “unofficially” warned the party against doing so, fearing “tension” in the area.
The CPM candidate for the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat, Sheikh Ibrahim Ali, and his aides ended a roadshow near Nandigram police station today after he was allegedly denied permission to use a microphone and proceed towards the three villages.
“Hundreds of our workers and sympathisers were hounded out of their homes by the Trinamul Congress. We had planned to hold the roadshow on a 30km stretch between Nandigram market and Kalicharanpur via Gokulnagar and Sonachura to boost the morale of our workers. But after we reached the police station, we were prevented from proceeding,” Ali alleged.
Trinamul denied the charge of driving CPM cadres out of their homes.
The Nandigram anti-land acquisition movement had started at Sonachura, Gokulnagar and Kalicharanpur in 2007. Fourteen persons were killed and more than 100 villagers injured when the police opened fire on March 14 that year at Sonachura and Gokulnagar.
A land-acquisition notice put up at the Kalicharanpur panchayat office by the then CPM-controlled Haldia Development Authority had triggered the agitation.
The CPM has lost support in Nandigram since then. When then MP Lakshman Seth visited Nandigram before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, bricks were thrown at him. He lost the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat, under which Nandigram falls, to Trinamul.
Trinamul controls all the gram panchayats and panchayat samitis in Nandigram. All CPM offices in Nandigram, which votes on May 12, are closed since the police firing in 2007.
Uttam Bera, a CPM zonal committee member in Nandigram, said the party had sought the police’s permission to campaign in Nandigram town and its neighbourhood yesterday and today.
“The police had initially given us permission. But when we changed our plan and requested that we be allowed to visit Sonachura, Gokulnagar and Kalicharanpur, the police rejected our appeal. They also withdrew the permission they had given us earlier,” Bera said.
District police chief S.K. Jain denied the charge that the CPM had been denied permission to campaign in the three villages.
“There is no such restriction on any political party. We had provided police escorts to the CPM for today’s roadshow. I have not received any complaint that the CPM candidate was prevented from campaigning,” he said.
A senior police officer said “some of our officers unofficially warned the party against campaigning in the three villages because there are strong anti-CPM sentiments there. Had the CPM candidate and party leaders visited the area, it could have caused tension.”