A Year after BJP Leader’s Murder, West Bengal’s Nandigram Remains a Kurukshetra

A year ago, around this time, Nandigram in Bengal had caught the nation’s attention amid the elections, with the biggest political fight between two candidates – Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikary, who had defected from the TMC to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Banerjee lost and became the Chief Minister of Bengal, while Adhikary won and is the leader of Opposition.

News18 revisited Nandigram to check the ground reality in the Kurukshetra of Bengal.

FLAGGING IT

The area from Reapara market to Nandigram Bazar is lined with flags of political parties both the BJP and TMC.

Even though there are no polls, the battle still seems on in Nandigram.

When News18 asked a local tea shop owner, Mantu Majhi, about the flags, he said, “Political temperature is always high in Nandigram. All parties want their dominance here, resulting in such flag fights. For the past couple of months, there has been a lull. We don’t know what the future holds.”

While crossing Chillagram village, we see a new statue of martyr Debabrata Maity. Maity was a BJP worker who allegedly was killed by ruling party workers after poll results on May 2, 2021.

A Year after TMC Leader’s Murder, West Bengal’s Nandigram Remains a Battleground
The flags lining Reapara market to Nandigram Bazar. (News18)

From 2007 to 2021, many lives have been lost in Nandigram to politics and movements. Locals say the statue was erected by local MLA Adhikary.

AT MAITY’s HOUSE

Maity’s residence is still guarded by a team of five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, as per the court directions.

Ranjit, Maity’s son, said, “We still can’t believe he is not with us. We have been fighting since last year, but got nothing from the government. In the past six months, nobody intimidated us, but we don’t know what the future holds. We are grateful to Adhikary who stood by us.”

Sagarika, Maity’s daughter, still can’t sleep properly remembering May 2.

A Year after TMC Leader’s Murder, West Bengal’s Nandigram Remains a Battleground
The statue of Debabrata Maity at Chillagram. (News18)

She said, “As results came out, in the evening, there was a scuffle here. My father reached the spot. They beat up my father, my uncle and others badly. They were taken to a hospital, where my father passed away. The court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe and 24-hour protection outside our house. But what about when the security is gone. It won’t stay the entire life. We will be under attack again.”

Not just the Maitys, the locals of Chillagram too live in fear.

CASE STATUS

In the Maity case, more than 44 TMC leaders, including two prominent leaders Shek Sufian, Banerjee’s election agent, and Abu Taher, have been named in the first information report (FIR). Twelve TMC workers are in jail.

News18 reached out to Taher.

He said, “We don’t even know who Maity is. They have falsely framed us. On May 18, the CBI called me. I have not gone as I know if I go they will arrest me. I have asked for time and am seeking legal advice. Twelve of our workers are unnecessarily in jail.”

ALSO READ | The Name Has Changed, This Nandigram is Now ‘Mamatamoyee Nagar’

The BJP claims the local police is being used by the TMC and the TMC claims the BJP is using the CBI to settle the score.

Both the parties continue with their one-upmanship in Nandigram. The BJP office near Nandigram Bazar is buzzing as though an election is nearing. Saheb Das, a local BJP leader, said, “The other day, they sent police to Adhikary’s house-cum-office. We will do well in panchayat.”

The panchayat polls are in 2023, but Nandigram seems to be already bracing for it.

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