| Refugees trickle out of the Ranichowk camp on Saturday. Picture by Amit Datta
Nandigram/Midnapore, June 16: Nandigram erupted in violence again today as CPM activists hit back at the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee to avenge their “humiliation”.
Around 9.30 this morning, the CPM activists began hurling bombs and brickbats from Sherkhanchowk on the western side of the Tekhali bridge, 12 km from Bhangabera where the BUPC members had yesterday burned down a refugee camp and driven out CPM supporters.
The BUPC members, moving in groups on the eastern side of the bridge and carrying iron rods and firearms, struck back, turning the area into a battlefield.
A handful of policemen camping on the bridge remained mute spectators for about 45 minutes. When they sensed the situation could worsen, they fired several rounds in the air.
More policemen, led by sub-divisional officer Sargad Abbdas, arrived and calm was restored around 11 am.
“Our men maintained the utmost restraint but had to fire in the air,” said the East Midnapore superintendent of police, Anil Srinivas.
But the shadow of terror stays. A .303 rifle snatched from a policeman by the protesters yesterday is yet to be found.
The CPM justified its action today. “After yesterday’s attack at Bhangabera, we had been living in fear. Today’s retaliation was just an outburst resulting from our humiliation,” said Rabiul Hassan, a zonal committee member.
BUPC convener Sheikh Sufian said the CPM was responsible for the fresh round of violence. “We had to hit back as a last resort.”
Mamata Banerjee echoed him. “It was the CPM who first started firing at Pratirodh Committee members,” the Trinamul Congress chief said.
Addressing a meeting of the East Midnapore district committee in Haldia, CPM state secretary Biman Bose said peace would not return to Nandigram unless talks were held at the district level. “Moreover, decisions have to be translated into action.”
Bose, also the Left Front chairman, regretted that those participating in the peace initiative were later creating trouble in Nandigram.
CPM state secretariat member Benoy Konar, who was at the meeting, drew a parallel with Panskura, where 94 “comrades” had been killed between 1998 and 2000.
“We had to wait for two-and-a-half years to bring back normality in Panskura. We are no doubt in favour of peace but at the same time, we know how to fight those who are creating trouble,” he said.
“A tiger has to be caged if it has to be made to eat grass,” Konar added.