For the first time, a BJP leader on Thursday paid tribute to those who were killed in the Nandigram and Lalgarh agitations during the Left Front government.
Nandigram and Lalgarh agitations, spearheaded by the villagers and backed by the Trinamool Congress against the land acquisition in the later years of the last decade, had prefaced the fall of the Left Front government in 2011. It is an important day in the Trinamool Congress calendar, and is observed as “Shahid Diwas” — Martyrs’ Day.
Suvendu Adhikari, who recently quit the Trinamool Congress to join the BJP, reached Nandigram in Purba Medinipur district on Wednesday night and was first to pay tribute, even before the Trinamool leaders.
“Some people had threatened that I would not be allowed to come here (Nandigram). But I am not scared. I was here, I am here and I will be here,” Adhikari said after paying tribute.
On January 7, 2007, at least 11 villagers were killed in Nandigram in police firing during their agitation against then Left Front government’s move to acquire land for setting up a chemical hub in the area.
Later in the day, Adhikari reached Netai in Lalgarh area of Jhargram district to pay respect to nine villagers killed in firing on January 7, 2011. There, Adhikari took a dig at Chhatradhar Mahato, the former leader of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) who was the face of the Lalgarh movement. Mahato recently joined the ruling Trinamool Congress.
“I have a spiritual relationship with the people of Netai. If someone thinks that he can break that relationship after spending 10 years in jail, it will not be easy. People of Netai died because of these men. Only CPM can’t be blamed. Everyone knows about anarchy that prevailed in the name of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities,” Adhikari said without naming Mahato, who has spent over a decade in the jail.
Trinamool leaders Subrata Bakshi, Partha Chatterjee and Madan Mitra also visited Nandigram and Lalgarh to pay their respects to those killed in the agitations. Partha Chatterjee slammed Adhikari, saying the former Trinamool minister“betrayed the trust of the people of Nandigram”.
“These movements (Nandigram and Lalgarh) were fought by the Trinamool under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. They were not fought by one individual. People will remember the sacrifices made by the Trinamool and Mamata Banerjee,” Chatterjee said.
Ever since coming to power, the Mamata Banerjee government observes the day every year by paying tribute to those killed in the agitation. This year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was scheduled to address a rally in Nandigram on January 7, but the programme was called off — the party said that local Trinamool MLA Akhil Giri had tested positive for Covid-19.
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