The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flare-up blame on outsiders

Nandigram, June 16: Police have blamed yesterday’s Nandigram violence on “outsiders”, claiming off the record that Maoists had led the attack on CPM refugee camps and the force.

The CPM’s retaliation bid, too, was spearheaded by armed cadre brought in from outside, officers said.

“The attack was led by outsiders who had incited villagers. These people, who are bringing in arms, are bent on disrupting the peace process,” the inspector-general of police (south Bengal), Arun Gupta, said.

“That’s why, when things were generally looking up and there was no reason for trouble, these outsiders struck. We have their names and will reveal them soon.”

Police sources said these “outsiders” were Maoists. “They are inciting the villagers, who don’t want any more violence,” a senior officer said.

He added that Maoists from Calcutta had “entrenched” themselves in Nandigram, infiltrating the land movement and trying to build a base there.

The sources said certain lobbies in the CPM, too, wanted the refugee stalemate to continue despite the government’s appeals for their safe return. This could be a reason why cadres were brought from outside.

“This section feels the party can gain if, during next year’s panchayat polls, it can holler that thousands of its supporters are still homeless because of Trinamul Congress attacks,” the officer said. “But if all the refugees return and there is peace, Trinamul can claim credit and earn goodwill.”

“Even today’s violence was led by outsiders,” Gupta said.

He was referring to fresh clashes this morning around Tekhali bridge, about 12 km from Bhangabera where a CPM refugee camp was burnt down yesterday and a police camp ransacked.

CPM supporters hurled bombs and stones across the bridge at the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee’s areas, bringing quick retaliation. After about 45 minutes, the police managed to chase both groups away by firing in the air. No one was injured.

Local CPM leader Ashok Guria and the Pratirodh Committee’s Sheikh Sufian agreed that there were outsiders but blamed each other for bringing them in first.

The outsider angle isn’t new. Late last year, the government had blamed the Singur land battles on the Maoists. Even in Nandigram, the police have picked up a few alleged Maoists now and then.

Immediately after the March 14 police firing when 14 protesters were killed, Nandigram villagers had alleged that CPM cadres from outside had joined in the attack. On March 17, 10 armed cadres were arrested from the CPM stronghold of Khejuri and admitted they had been sent to regain lost territory in Nandigram.

“We know there are outsiders,” district police chief A.G. Srinivas said, “but since we can’t enter Nandigram we can hardly do anything about them.”

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