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Peace process begins in Nandigram

Special Correspondent

Villagers begin to return home following local-level talks

— Photo : Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

CALMING TENSIONS: A ‘peace walk’ by CPI(M) activists at Reyapara near Nandigram.

Kolkata: After several days of violence, a fragile calm returned to a tense Nandigram in West Bengal on Friday with those who fled their villages in the face of hostilities over the past few months trickling in back home.

A peace process has been initiated at the local level involving discussions between leaders of the political parties, the Trinamool Congress-backed Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh [Resistance against Land Eviction] Committee (BUPC) and the local authorities.

“This is good news,” veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu said here. But it must be ensured that all those rendered homeless in the past few months of violence in Nandigram and its surrounding areas “return home,” Mr. Basu said. “There are nearly 6,000 people of ours [the Communist Party of India (Marxist)] and some of theirs [BUPC] who are still living outside. All should be able to get back home in the next few days,” he added.

In view of the emerging situation, Mr. Basu felt that an all-party meeting at the State level to explore ways of restoration of normality in the Nandigram area was not required immediately.

“Let us wait for a few more days and see how things develop,” he said, to a question from newspersons on the need for such a meeting as expressed by leaders of certain constituents of the Left Front.

Compensation

On Thursday, the government announced a compensation of Rs.2 lakh for the next of kin of each of the 14 persons who died in the police firing and subsequent violence in the Nandigram area on March 14.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has dismissed the package as paltry and demanded Central intervention to restore normality.

Mr. Basu said there was an urgent need for resumption of development work involving the local panchayats. “Money meant for development has been lying there unspent,” he said.

“Two to four police camps are also being set up in an area where the police could not enter earlier,” he added.

The former Chief Minister said future meetings at the local level involving all parties and the BUPC with the local administration were imperative. “Whichever party one might belong to and whatever views one might have, more such meetings are required. If there is any issue about which the Opposition might have reservations, it can be sorted out in a manner befitting a parliamentary democratic set-up,” Mr. Basu said.

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