CPM 44 given life term in Nanoor killing

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  • Published 12.11.10

Suri, Nov. 11: The 44 people with CPM ties convicted of the Nanoor massacre were today handed life terms, the first time so many people have been given the punishment in a single case in Bengal.

A Suri court had yesterday held the 44 people — four CPM members and 40 party supporters — guilty of killing 11 farmers owing allegiance to the Trinamul Congress in Birbhum’s Nanoor on July 27, 2000.

The 55-page sentence was today read out around 3.20pm by Biswanath Konar, the first additional district and sessions judge.

“The 44, including a CPM zonal committee member, have been sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment. They have also been fined Rs 5,000 each. If any of them fails to pay the fine, another six months of jail will be added to the life term,” said Dilip Nayak, lawyer who appeared on behalf of the family members of those killed.

Manabendra Mukherjee, who represented the convicts, said: “We will appeal in the high court against the verdict.”

Mamata Banerjee described the verdict as a “historic judgment”. The Trinamul chief said from Delhi: “I thank the witnesses and the judiciary for making this excellent judgment possible.” During her tenure as railway minister in the NDA government, Mamata had given a job to a member of the family of each of the dead.

CPM state secretariat member Rabin Deb said the party would “study the verdict and decide on the next course of action”.

“We will stand by our party workers and sympathisers who have been framed,” he added.

Union minister of state for shipping Mukul Roy was present in court today at Mamata’s behest. “Justice, though delayed, has been done at last. The verdict proves that the CPM has unleashed a reign of terror across the state,” Roy said.

Several of the family members of the dead, who had gathered at the court complex today, said they had hoped the convicts would be given the death sentence.

“We have to accept the court’s decision now. But we will plead to Calcutta High Court that the convicts be given death,” said Rafique Sheikh, 38, whose younger brother Shafique was one of those killed.

Family members of the convicts were also present. “We are not satisfied with the verdict. We will move the high court,” said Anima Bibi, sister of convicted CPM supporter Anwar Sheikh.

Anwar’s 12-year-old daughter Sabina had come to meet him but could not because of the huge crowd and the tight security cordon.

A large police force was also deployed in Nanoor’s Suchpur, the site of the massacre, and neighbouring villages. Jag Mohan, the deputy inspector-general (Burdwan), oversaw the security arrangements. “We have not yet received reports of any untoward incident in Nanoor after the verdict,” the officer said.

On the morning of July 27, 2000, CPM activists had clashed with farmers belonging to Trinamul at Suchpur over the right to cultivate a four-bigha plot.

Eleven farmers were hacked to death, the biggest toll in a political clash in Bengal in recent memory.