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Society
Last Updated: November 22, 2007
Meanwhile, Largest Refugee Camp at Ground Zero Faces Closure
By Bidyut Roy

Kolkata, November 21 Away from the violence and the curfew in Kolkata, at Ground Zero in Nandigram, the CPM is using its teachers’ wing to clear out the largest refugee camp which today has an estimated 1200 displaced villagers. The camp, at the Brojomohan Tiari High School in Nandigram town, protected by the Central Reserve Police Force at the adjacent Nandigram police station, has turned an embarrassment for the Government.

Now its inmates, rendered homeless by armed CPM cadres who unleashed a reign of terror to reclaim Nandigram from the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), have been told by the headmaster of the government-run school that he has to resume classes so they should quit the premises. For the record, Ashok Guria, CPM district committee member for East Midnapur, in which Nandigram falls, said: “The issue is being handled by the headmaster.”

The headmaster, Samar Manna, is also the President of the Nandigram zonal committee of the All-Bengal Teachers’ Association, the most important local player in the CPM’s election machinery. Most of the 35 teachers in the school are members of ABTA. When contacted by The Indian Express, Manna said: “All these villagers are illegal occupants. They have to leave the school. Why should the government feed them (the administration has supplied rice)? What’s the need to give them a police guard?”

The school began conducting examinations in its classrooms on the first floor today. The two-storied school building, with a sprawling playground and 28 rooms, began filling up since the afternoon of November 8, barely 24 hours after CPM cadres launched their attacks.

A majority of the “refugees” are Muslim, the others being mainly Scheduled Castes and they occupy 10 rooms on the ground floor.

The administration is backing the CPM in its bid to clear out the camp. SDO Haldia Sankar Haldar said: “We can clear it out any time. Do you think the common people at the camp are staying of their own will? Political leaders are holding them there.” Said Bhawani Das, a leader of the BUPC, the organisation which is managing the camp: “How can we leave this place? CPM cadres have destroyed or ransacked the homes of most of the people sheltering here. Where do we go to?”

The headmaster, however, is firm. “These people are not ordinary villagers. They are the hard core of the BUPC...I can do many things, I can file an FIR, I can move the courts, because they are illegally occupying a public place,” said Manna. “But I have only informed the District Magistrate.” DM Anup Agarwal declined to comment.

Manna said the DM had asked him to talk to the Block Development Officer. “The BDO has asked me to call a meeting of the guardians of the students,” said Manna. The SDO said he is yet to receive the headmaster’s mail. “I’ll take action when I get his official letter,” said Haldar. (Courtesy: Indian Express, November 22, 2007)

 


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