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Nandigram killing: an operation against Maoist?

CPM supporters march in Tekhali. Around 3,000 workers and supporters took part in two processions — the second one was from Bhangabera — to Sonachura on Thursday. A CPM zonal committee leader said supporters were being informed that they could now return home. Picture by Amit Datta

Tamluk, March 15: Before police began firing at the wall of protesters in Nandigram yesterday, a senior officer had second thoughts. But his superior turned down his request to backtrack and ordered the force to open fire, according to an official who was part of the mission.

The official today said a team of 350 policemen had landed in Sonachura to clean Nandigram of suspected Maoist weapons.

The policemen, however, knew they would face stiff resistance from the villagers. "We anticipated it. When we reached near Bhangabera bridge and faced heavy brickbatting and bombing from villagers, we realised the operation would claim several lives. An officer of the rank of superintendent of police wanted to backtrack," the official said.

But his superior refused, saying Sonachura had to be "captured" because the higher secondary examinations were scheduled to start from Friday and the police would not be able to enter the area in the next one month.

Giving a blow-by-blow description of yesterday's operation, the official said: "Anticipating heavy resistance, every policeman was told to wear a bullet-proof jacket and helmet. Before heading to Sonachura, two teams were sent to Maheshpur and Adhikarypara to stop people of these areas from reaching could not reach Bhangabera bridge to help the villagers."

The team of 350 policemen then set off for Sonachura.

"As soon as we approached the bridge, we started announcing to the villagers they should not resist the police. But they started throwing stones and hurling bombs. So we lobbed tear gas shells," said an officer. "The situation worsened because of the wind condition. The tear gas blew back towards us. We were not prepared for it and most of the policemen did not know what to do. The officer then told his superior 'Sir, we should not proceed because it will lead to firing'. But he ignored him and ordered the force to open fire."

A Maoist threat to stockpile arms in Nandigram apparently drove the long arm of the law to action, just two days ahead of the higher secondary examinations. The police, however, are not officially willing to make any comment.

"There was no time to lose," said a senior police official. "We had information that Maoists were up to something that could have dangerous consequences for not only the area but also for the state and we had to act fast. There was no time to waste and we had to strike fast," he added.

"The raid was conducted on the basis of a report submitted by the intelligence branch of the state police which mentioned that armed activists of the CPI (Maoist) and their sympathisers are entering the remote pockets of Nandigram and setting up a strong base. So we had a specific instruction from Writers' Buildings to clean out the area from the clutches of Maoists," the official said.

"The government was told by the agency that everyday, members of the action squad were reaching Nandigram from West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. So we were told to carry out the clean-out operation before the higher secondary examinations start." The Telegraph

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posted by Resistance 3/16/2007 09:11:00 AM,


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