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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 6, 2007
Violence in West Bengal industrial hub scares natives
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Violence in West Bengal industrial hub scares natives

The once bustling streets of Satingabadi, Simulkundu Uttarpalli, Sonachura villages in West Bengals East Midnapore District today wears a deserted look.

East Midnapore (West Bengal), May 6 : The once bustling streets of Satingabadi, Simulkundu Uttarpalli, Sonachura villages in West Bengal's East Midnapore District today wears a deserted look.

Empty streets welcome visitors, as residents of the villages have fled to safer places after political groups for and against a planned industrial hub unleashed violence in the villages.

Two persons were killed on April 29 in fresh clashes, while scores were injured as rival groups, affiliated to either the state's ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), or the opposition Trinamool Congress, clashed with each other, exchanged gunfire and ransacked property.

Villagers of Nandigram have been opposing the acquisition of their farmland to set up an industrial hub by Indonesia's Saleem Group.

The first round of violence in January this year resulted in 14 deaths. Those lucky to escape the violence have found shelter in far-flung areas with friends and relatives. But some poor farmers and their families are fighting a losing battle to survive.

Many are sleeping by the roadside or cowering under culverts. There is no food and no sanitation.

Though a majority of locals have taken shelter in relief camps or other safer places, uncertainty continues to rule their lives.

"We are homeless now. Our children are homeless. I don't have clothes to wear; my children have nothing to wear. My husband is also untraceable. I don't know what to do, where to go. There is not a single grain of rice here. What will we eat? What will we do?" lamented Pushpa Kajri, a displaced villager on Saturday.

The people are living in fear of becoming victims of an unmindful violence any moment.

Locals have alleged that miscreants have not even spared relief camps in the area.

"Around 5 in the morning yesterday, there was firing in the camp led. Some six-seven rounds of firing took place. We fled in fear. Later, they organised themselves further and attacked us again. They came with weapons, with faces covered in lack cloth and looted our homes.

They also looted houses in nearby Harijanpalli. While returning from the looting episode, they set our camp afire. We fled fearing for our lives," said Prabir Maity another displaces local.

Villagers living in these camps or other places crave to return to their homes to begin farming activities anew, as the sowing season starts. Farming sustains them for the entire year.

"We need to go back home. We have land, which has to be cultivated. But how can we do so in this situation?" said Dabakar Mandal.

But with innumerable stories of death, abuse, torture and rape doing the rounds most farmers fear to return to their homes.azed by their refugee status with no home and hearth, these villagers in their own land, express their helplessness, while their children go hungry and out of school.

"All schools, markets everything is shut. We can't buy anything to eat also. Children are not being able to study. They did not appear for their exams. I don't know if they can ever resume their studies. I don't know how this situation will be resolved. We are in great misery," said Pratima Das.

The State Government recently admitted to a top court in the state that all its efforts to bring normalcy and restore law and order had come to a nought, as the opposition is stuck on its no-compromise formula.

They are steadfast on its demand that the area be declared 'disturbed' and handed over to the army.

However, as instructed by the Kolkata High Court, it would now probably make arrangements for supply of medical care and food for the displaced villagers.

Analysts say that the reopening of government offices, schools, and health centres without bringing law and order under control would be impossible.


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