Battleground Bengal: Nandigram emerges as new epicenter of violence

Clashes erupt on Wednesday and Thursday; TMC moves EC, BJP demands deployment of paramilitary forces


Clashes broke out between party workers of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday, after the former alleged that Suvendu Adhikar’s security detail allegedly assaulted locals. Earlier that day, Adhikari, who is fighting the upcoming assembly election from Nandigram, was meeting booth-level workers in the region.

The Times of India reports that broom-wielding women, allegedly backed by the TMC, first tried to accost Adhikari’s convoy. Then, at around 8:30 PM, TMC Youth Congress Secretary Samrat Tapadar and party booth president Gautam Pal were allegedly attacked by BJP workers. This alleged series of attacks and counter attacks culminated into protests outside the Nandigram police station the following day.

The TMC blamed the BJP for the violence and moved the Election Commission demanding action against the alleged perpetrators of the violence. Meanwhile, Dharmendra Pradhan, who is the Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Minister of Steel, and was accompanying Adhikari during a padyatra (walking campaign) alleged that TMC workers assaulted their party men shortly after the padyatra began. Pradhan told media-persons, “Attempts are being made on the lives of our party people in a bid to intimidate us. I have faith in the Election Commission. I request that paramilitary forces be deployed in the region to maintain law and order.”

He also posted these images of injured party workers on Twitter:

But at the heart of this, lies a bigger story, one that is connected deeply with the history of Nandigram and the Singur movement. At the height of the 2007 anti-land acquisition protests, several arrest warrants had been issued against TMC party workers and protesters. 13 TMC supporters had been accused of murders that took place on March 21, 2007.

While one judicial magistrate’s court in Tamluk was looking into cases against nine accused, another was looking into cases against 4 more accused. Earlier this year, the West Bengal government moved the lower courts to withdraw the cases against all 13. Two judicial magistrates of a Tamluk court allowed the state government to withdraw the criminal cases. These orders were challenged before the Calcutta High Court.

On March 5, 2021, the Calcutta High Court stayed 10 orders passed by the jurisdictional magistrate, granting consent for withdrawal of prosecution against accused persons in criminal cases at Nandigram in East Midnapore district.

The court said, “… having considered the stereotype orders which are impugned in these writ petitions and looking into the contents of those orders, we are, prima facie, satisfied that exercise of judicial power in terms of Section 321 Cr. P.C. to grant consent to a prosecutor to withdraw has, prima facie, not been appropriately exercised. We make this cautious observation because the formation of opinion of a prosecutor to withdraw a particular case from prosecution is, itself, an activity which is regulated by the statute and the judicial precedents governing the field.”

It added, “Only when the judicial authority is satisfied that the public prosecutor has acted in terms of the sound and well-settled principles touching the withdrawal of prosecution, would the judicial authority consider whether consent ought to be granted to enable such withdrawal. We, therefore, are of the view that the 3 impugned orders deserve to have a deeper look at our hands and we are satisfied that the consequence of the orders impugned in these writ petitions should stand stayed until a final decision is taken in these writ petitions.”

The court ruled, “Resultantly, the orders impugned in these two writ petitions stand stayed and the concerned criminal courts which have issued those orders will take note of these orders and deal with the criminal cases accordingly.”

This is what set the cat among the pigeons, and TMC has been vehemently protesting this move dubbing it ‘politically motivated’. Nandigram is also the constituency from where TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting elections.

The Calcutta High Court order may be read here: 


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