Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is facing her friend-turned foe, Suvendu Adhikari of BJP in the Nandigram Assembly constituency, has made startling revelations about her former party aide, in effect exposing the sinister goings on in the high-profile constituency.
In a ‘bare all’ speech on Sunday, March 29, Banerjee attributed to the killing of 14 Trinamool Congress (TMC) supporters in Nandigram to her own then party leader, Adhikari. “You must be remembering (videos showing) many persons wearing (false) police uniforms had shot (them). They were wearing slippers. This time also, such scams are in the making. The father-son duo (Sishir and Suvendu) had given the police permission to enter Nandigram, she alleged. I am challenging them on this. Fair enough, I had not disclosed anything due to gentleman spirit”, she added.
The TMC supremo’s sudden outburst, 14 years after the incident, has brought out the truth about the Nandigram killings, say some political commentators. The incident had happened on March 14, 2007, under the then Left Front government. The police had entered Nandigram after it was declared a muktanchal (liberated zone) amid reports that Maoist leaders like Sudip Chongdar had started training youths of Nandigram to use arms. According to sources, police and administrative officers, such as Rajiv Kumar, Satyajit Banerjee, Tanmoy Roychoudhury and Nitish Das, had been keeping a close watch on developments in the area. The executive magistrate-level permission to open fire during distress was given by Nitish Das, say sources.
The incident happened despite the then state government keeping in abeyance a proposal to create a chemical hub in Nandigram by a public sector company, following the land acquisition trouble. Incidentally, the chemical hub came up in Gujarat with investment by the Ambanis.
During the incident, hiding behind the villagers, some anti-socials had allegedly fired from behind and six out of 14 corpses found later had deep cuts made by sharp weapons, according to sources. While the police firing had killed three persons, nine others had fallen victims to “foul play” with the TMC, it has been alleged.
That there were civilians wearing police uniforms and slippers has been admitted by Banerjee now while attacking her bete noire Suvendu Adhikari. Many Left sources have been alleging that it was Maoist and TMC men who were responsible for the killing of villagers in Nandigram that day.
After the incident, while the Calcutta High Court took suo motu cognizance, however, most of the police officers by then had been promoted and one officer, who was in charge of the operation in Gokulnagar, has since retired and joined TMC. However, in the administrative and judicial enquiry, no wrongdoing on the part of the police has been found so far.
The critics of Banerjee, however, have been left wondering as to why, after so many years, the West Bengal CM is making public and exposing herself in that she too gave her ‘seal of approval’ to the turn of events in Nandigram? As per the critics, a section of TMC, led by Adhikari, which has now crossed over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was a close conspirator in the entire incident, and in an attempt to corner them, she has ended up revealing her own role in the entire saga.