Calcutta, May 3: The people of Nandigram are victims of a political conflict, Calcutta High Court said today and asked the government to ensure peace at the earliest.
“We cannot remain unaffected, like mute spectators, by the miserable plight of the villagers…. Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees life and liberty of each individual. But the people of Nandigram have been denied their fundamental rights,” the division bench of Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justice P.C. Ghosh said.
In a seven-page order, it asked the government to take the following steps immediately:
Restore the ferry service between Haldia and Nandigram
Ensure safe access to markets, haats, schools and colleges
Provide medical assistance to the victims of violence
Supply free ration — rice, wheat, kerosene and essential commodities — to the affected families.
The order was in response to 11 petitions, including one by the Bar Association, which held the government responsible for the situation in Nandigram. Unhappy with the ruling, nearly 200 lawyers who had sought a CBI probe into the flare-up and deployment of the paramilitary demonstrated outside the courtroom.
The police have not been able to enter the villages of Nandigram since the land war erupted in January.
The government today filed a status report, after reading which the chief justice asked advocate-general Balai Ray to state what action had been taken to restore normality.
“Our government is trying hard…. The atmosphere there has been vitiated by clashes between two groups of hooligans. The people are not allowing the police to enter the villages,” Ray said.
“Are you saying that your mission to restore peace has failed' Is your government not competent enough to tackle the situation'” asked the chief justice.
At Writers’, home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said the police would enter the villages, if need be. “The situation is tense, but peace has to be restored at any cost.”
Ray said the government would “welcome” a judicial inquiry, not a CBI probe. “It also does not want deployment of paramilitary forces. Any other direction is welcome,” Ray said.