The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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HC pushes for peace, govt cautious
Restraint message to police

Nandigram/Calcutta, April 30: Calcutta High Court today asked the government to ensure normality in Nandigram. The chief minister asked how.

Reacting to the court directive at Writers’ Buildings, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wondered: “How is it possible to ensure peace'”

Police are still not being allowed entry into the villages and the government is in no mood to push its force, fearing a rerun of March 14 when at least 14 people were killed during a similar operation.

When Nandigram officer-in-charge Champak Choudhuri tried to enter Maheshpur today, members of the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee chased him away.

CPM activists detained a patrol jeep with four policemen at Amdabad in the afternoon and demanded that the body of a missing supporter be traced immediately.

“We’ve asked the police to exercise restraint,” home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said.

The police, who again watched the battle rage from a distance, said over 200 shots were fired. Columns of thick, grey smoke rose in the air with each explosion, though no casualties were reported.

“The situation is grave. We don’t want to go into a confrontation with the villagers. That will only aggravate matters,” the OC said.

Hearing an NGO’s plea seeking a directive to the government to ensure peace, the division bench of Justice P.C. Ghosh and Justice B. Somadder said: “The government must ensure peace in the region and it must also see that property is protected.”

Members of the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee ransacked over 130 houses of CPM supporters at Saten- gabari, Brindabanchowk and Keyakhali today. “We paid them back in their own coin. We will not tolerate the CPM’s oppression any more,” said one of the marauders.

A number of houses bore telltale marks of yesterday’s violence with broken tiles and ruined interiors.

“They attacked my house around 6 am when we were asleep. Five people entered the house and started ransacking everything… all of them were armed,” said Tapan Majhi, a committee supporter.

The first thing the 45-year-old did today was shift his wife and two daughters to a relative’s house at Amgachhi.

“I am here along with the others to hit back at every move of our opponents. Now I don’t have my worries,” he said, holding a stick and shouting anti-CPM slogans.

“We are keeping a close watch,” said Midnapore range deputy inspector-general N. Ramesh Babu.

An all-party meeting will be called soon to start the peace process, the home secretary said at Writers’.

The Opposition, however, has boycotted all such meetings in the past few months.

Trinamul Congress leader Saugata Roy visited Maheshpur, a party stronghold, and adjoining areas today. The state Congress said a delegation would meet party president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Biman Bose, the state CPM secretary, urged the Opposition to attend the peace meet.

He accused Mamata Banerjee of trying to keep the cauldron boiling since her Nandigram trip last week. “This violence is planned,” he said.

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