Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nandigram — Lull before another storm?

Sunday, 20 January , 2008, 15:57


Nandigram (West Bengal): Blood-red banners naming "martyrs" and proclaiming "shame on Buddha", walls painted with war cries, trees tied with black and red flags, burnt houses and a broken pathway lead to Nandigram, an ordinary village that turned into an unlikely battleground between communists and local residents protecting their land and livelihood.

Almost three kilometres before entering the main Nandigram area, which lies about 170 km from State capital Kolkata, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers flank both sides of the road, which then meanders through a busy market that sells everything from shoes to shampoos.

Even though things appear to be in an absolute state of peace, it is hard to get over the eerie feeling that engulfs anyone who crosses over into the vast tracts of land dotted with camouflaged graves.

"People think the guns have fallen silent here, everything looks normal, people going to work, a busy marketplace opening and shutting every day — but all this is apparent," said a visibly shaken 70-year-old Narmada Sheeth, who runs a small tea stall in the market.

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