Bengal bandh total, Governor meets Basu to broker peace

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Kolkata, Nov 12 (UNI) In a rare move, West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi went to meet CPI(M) patriarch Jyoti Basu to find a way to broker peace in Nandigram, even as the Opposition-sponsored 24-hour statewide bandh in protest against the bloodbath today brought life to a standstill.

While most of the shops, markets and business establishments remained closed, vehicles went off the streets and train services were disrupted.

Official sources said eight to ten per cent people attended their duties in State Secretariat Writers' Buildings.

IG (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said 250 people had been arrested so far from all over the state for violating law and order.

While the Congress and CPI(ML) Liberation gave separate calls for a 24-hour bandh, the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sponsored a 48-hour strike.

The Governor met veteran marxist leader Jyoti Basu seeking his intervention for restoration of peace in Nandigram.

Mr Gandhi, who was in the centre of a storm following his virtual censure of the state government for the ''unlawful recapture'' of Nandigram by CPI(M) supporters, drove straight to Mr Basu's residence in Salt Lake from Raj Bhavan and spoke to him for about 40 minutes.

''I have confidence in Mr Basu. I have requested him to see that peace is restored and law and order situation maintained in Nandigram, '' he told reporters while coming out.

'' Mr Basu has told me that he would talk to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in this regard,'' the Governor said.

Mr Gandhi's visit to the veteran Marxist leader came four days after he made a statement against the Government, describing Mr Basu as 'unwarranted'.

Reprimanding the administration for the Nandigram situation, the Governor had called for peace and security to be restored without delay.

''Enough is enough,'' he had said stating that large number of armed persons from outside the district had forced themselves into villages in Nandigram block one and two for territorial assertion.

Though not calling it a bandh, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee vowed to cripple the state for an indefinite period demanding removal of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Government allegedly for committing a massacre in Nandigram.

Talking to mediapersons at Tamluk in East Midnapore, where she had been camping on her way to Nandigram, Ms Banerjee said, '' Tomorrow an NDA team under the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha L K Advani is supposed to go to strife-torn Nandigram. '' ''I have sent a request to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, presently in Moscow, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to come and see the silent sufferings of the people in Nandigram,'' she added.

Reiterating of not calling a bandh tomorrow, she said, '' We have called 'Bangla Achal' (Paralyse the state), equivalent to non-cooperation to the government, but we are cooperating whole heartedly with the people. '' The Trinamool Congress supremo asserted that she would join the ''Mahamichil'' (Great Rally) to be organised by the intellectuals on November 14 highlighting the cause of Nandigram.

The 13th Kolkata Film Festival site wore a barren, vacant look with hardly any people arriving to see and enjoy the feast of films.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan Megha Patkar leader was on a 48-hour hunger strike protesting the volatile situation in Nandigram. She had also reportedly invited governor Gandhi to visit the troubled area with her as she was proceeding towards Nandigram this afternoon despite advice by the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary not to go ahead.

Eds: Pls pick suitably from earlier series.

UNI

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