Nandigram is a concentration camp: Patkar

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Kolkata, Nov 10: Assaulted, terrorised and stopped by the CPI(M) for trying to extend a helping hand to Nandigram, social activist Medha Patkar has dubbed Nandigram 'a concentration camp where the communists have unleashed a reign of terror to recapture lost ground'. ''With no scope to find a redressal for the grievances, Nandigram is a veritable concentration camp where people are suffering helplessly,'' Medha Patkar told the sources while gearing up for a fresh battle.

When the Narmada Bachao Andolan leader tried to enter Nandigram on Thursday, her vehicle was stopped and her associates were punched and brick-batted. She was pulled by hair and hurled with choicest invectives by 'CPI(M) goons', out to regain their lost base launching a violent onslaught on the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), their main opposition.

The National Alliance of Peoples Movement (NAPM) yesterday began a 48-hour fast to protest the Nandigram brutality and the violation of human rights by the communists with whom she had fought many battles in other states till Singur and Nandigram flared up over the issue of land acquisition for industry.

''We have to appeal to the Red Cross for taking relief to Nandigram. The people there are facing brutality by the CPI(M),'' she said.

Interestingly, among the papers she carried was a book that talked about a vacuum in the sphere of peaceful leadership after the death of Gandhiji. So no surprises that she approached the NHRC and Gopal Krishna Gandhi, Governor of West Bengal.

''I have approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Nandigram. This is blatant violation of human rights. In Nandigram there are thousands of injured at the moment,'' she said, soon after submitting a memorandum to West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi for action last evening.

''When the nation celebrates Diwali, the festival of lights, in West Bengal it is a Diwali of darkness. So to protest this physical onslaught of the CPI(M) we will fast and appeal to the conscience of the nation to be awakened and act. They have stopped me from entering Nandigram, but I will go again,'' Patkar asserted.

''We are also holding a mass rally on November 14 where everyone who feels aggrieved for the people of Nandgram are welcome to join us. But no banner, political or otherwise, will be used,'' she said.

A few hours after Medha met Gandhi, the Governor came out with a stinging rebuke of the West Bengal government and the CPI(M), terming the recapturing of the villages by the party as ''unlawful and unacceptable''.

''The manner in which the recapture of Nandigram villages is being attempted is totally unlawful and unacceptable,'' the Governor said in a statement.

Medha Patkar, along with leading intellectuals and rights activists, sought Mr Gandhi's help to open up Nandigram to human rights groups. ''We demand that peaceful defenders of human rights belonging to known peoples' organisations be protected and their entry to Nandigram area facilitated,'' she said. ''Nandigram is under fire and scared. On the festive days of Kali Puja the light emerging from the land of martyrdom is not the lamps women would light in their houses but from the burning houses,'' said Medha, who was held by the West Bengal police at Singur on December 2, 2006 when she reached there to protest the acquisition of farmland for the Tata Motors small car project.

''It is indeed shocking to see the way the CPI(M) hooligans are behaving. The apathy, inaction and both direct and indirect support of the police indicates a breakdown of the state machinery,'' she said.

Medha has the support of a huge chunk of Kolkata's intelligentsia, seething in rage at the CPI(M)'s 'reign of terror'.

Known to tow the Government line for the last two decades, it is the first time that the intelligentsia has come out so strongly against the Left Front government.

''As a protest we are not going to the film festival this year.

The festival is organised by the same government which is behind the Nandigram bloodbath,'' acclaimed playwright Saoli Mitra said.

Earlier, Aparna Sen, showing her solidarity with the intelligentsia, boycotted the film festival. ''Though the festival is dear to me I refuse to be a part of the festival in the backdrop of the Nandigram violence which is worse this time,'' the actor-director said immediately after returning from Mumbai.

''This is a kind of self-censorship as we artistes are taking our own decision driven by our own conscience,'' playwright and film and serial actor Kaushik Sen said.

While the CPI(M) maintains that peace is returning to Nandigram, the human rights activists and political opponents said a new reign of terror has been unleashed in Nandigram where the media and social activists were not allowed to enter.

The death toll in Nandigram violence crossed 30 since January when the region flared up over the proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ).

UNI

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