The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Woman hides in bath, battle rages outside

Nandigram, Nov. 6: Gita Maiti had bolted her door in a hurry and set out to join hundreds of villagers fleeing home when she remembered her two cows and flock of chicken.

She had not left any food for them.

As the 52-year-old widow rushed back and spent precious minutes collecting bundles of hay and fists full of grains and husk, the gunshots came closer. Gita looked up and saw black smoke licking the sky.

The road out of Jambari village was deserted and Gita stuck.

She locked herself in the bathroom and remained cooped up there through the day, scared of the “red party’s supporters” who stormed the village close to Nandigram’s border with Khejuri.

Her only contact with the world: her cellphone.

“I could hear CPM supporters screaming in delight after setting fire to houses. There were explosions all around and shots were being fired. I didn’t know if I’d survive the day,” Gita said over the phone.

She lives alone, having left her daughter with a relative as the renewed violence rocked the area a few days ago. Her three sons work in Haldia, Haryana and Gujarat.

Manasi Das, 30, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, was holding on to her four-year-old daughter Shiuli when two bullets pierced her thighs. She hasn’t seen her daughter since.

“Shots were being fired from Khejuri since early morning. From 8am, the shouts of CPM workers drew near. I was hurrying out of the house with my daughter,” Manasi said from her bed at Tamluk hospital.

“My husband Swapan had our six-year-old son Soumen with him. I was hit in the legs and collapsed. I have not met my daughter or any of my other family members since.”

Neighbours took Manasi to hospital.

Some 200 CPM workers armed with long-range rifles, single-barrel guns, pipe guns and bombs crossed the Talpatti canal at Bahargunj and attacked Satengabari, Brindabanchowk, Jambari, Girirbazar, Keyakhali, Simulkunda, Saifullachowk and Raynagar villages.

Most residents of Satengabari, Girirbazar, Brindabanchowk and Jambari — all Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee strongholds — fled home by 2.30pm.

Over 1,000 Pratirodh Committee supporters were sheltered in school buildings.

“The CPM is desperate to regain control of their turf in Nandigram. They have crossed the Talpatti canal and are taking control of one village after another,” said committee convener Abu Sufiyan.

The Trinamul Congress organised road blocks in various parts of East Midnapore, throwing traffic out of gear.

CPM zonal committee secretary Himangshu Das said: “Our supporters, who had fled their villages, tried to return home today but were attacked by committee activists.”

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