The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dirty work over, govt acts

Nandigram, Nov. 14: Trinamul Congress and CPM leaders sat across the table in Nandigram today for the first time since the Red Army’s recapture of the area and discussed ways to restore normality.

The Congress and the Left Front partners, the district magistrate, the superintendent of police and a CRPF commandant also attended the meeting at the block development office to work out the modalities of bringing the homeless back and resuming development work.

In Calcutta, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said: “I have told the district magistrate and the superintendent of police to personally visit the affected areas and ensure the return of the homeless.”

Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said Rs 50 lakh has been sanctioned from the chief minister’s relief fund to compensate for “almost 900” damaged houses.

Villagers whose houses have been totally damaged will get Rs 10,000. Partially damaged houses will fetch Rs 5,000.

The government will also provide Rs 1,000 to buy utensils and clothes.

In the evening, district magistrate Anup Agarwal said all the parties have assured co-operation. “We’ll begin a survey tomorrow to find out the damage to houses.”

The administration, he promised, would ensure that the refugees get jobs under poverty alleviation schemes after returning home. “We’ve discussed providing work under the scheme that ensures 100 days’ work in a year. The BDO has been asked to take up road-repair projects,” the DM said.

After the meeting, Agar-wal went to the relief camp in Nandigram High School, accompanied by CPM leaders Ashok Bera and Sheikh Saidullah. They were not allowed inside.

Several thousand of those rendered homeless by CPM attacks are staying there.

Trinamul and Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee leader Abu Taher, who attended the peace meeting, said the villagers will not feel secure until the CPM’s motorcycle brigade is reined in.

“Armed cadres are roam- ing the villages. Neither the police nor the CRPF are doing anything. We want development in Nandigram. We want peace,” Taher told the meeting.

Asked about the motorcycle brigade, the chief minister said: “The government would not allow violent processions, violent rallies or unwelcome gestures. Strong body language would not be entertained. Order has to be maintained.”

The district administration asked the Opposition leaders to file police complaints against the motorcycle gang. But the Congress doubted whether it would yield any result.

There was a ceasefire decision the last time Trinamul and CPM leaders sat across the table — on November 7. It was followed by a fierce CPM assault on villages from where its cadres had been displaced.

But all the parties sat together in Nandigram after almost eight months.

“The social process of restoration of peace has begun,” the chief minister said.

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