Bengal governor visits massacre sites, to file report

Bengal governor visits massacre sites, to file report

Narayanan began his visit from Netai village near the Maoist hub of Lalgarh, about 200 km west of Kolkata in West Midnapore district. He then went to Baghbinda, a hilly village in the Jhalda block of Purulia district, around 225 km from Kolkata.

At Netai, the governor spoke to villagers and listened to their grievances and fears. The Jan 7 carnage here saw nine people killed and at least 17 injured.

The firing was said to have been opened by people sheltered in an armed camp allegedly run by the state’s ruling Left Front major Communist party of India-Marxist (CPIM).

The bloodbath sent shock waves throughout the country, prompting union Home Minister P.Chidambaram to summon Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for talks in New Delhi.

Narayanan had then called it a “day of sorrow and shame” and asked the state government “to act decisively”.

In Netai, victims’ close relatives were seen crying, touching  Narayanan’s feet and pleading with him to ensure their security.

“I don’t want compensation for my mother’s death. I only want to see my mother's killers punished. Otherwise her soul will not rest in peace,” said Tarani Mondal (22), daughter of Arati Mondal, who died of her injuries sustained in the violence at a Kolkata hospital.

A retired school headmaster, Dwarakanath Panda urged the governor to restore peace in the area at the earliest. “We live here in fear, so please set up a joint forces camp in our village,” he said.

The villagers also handed over a list of what they claimed to be camps run by armed CPI-M cadres and also the names of the CPI-M leaders involved in the carnage.

The governor also went inside the house where attackers were said to have been sheltered. He surveyed the bullet marks and blood stains on the wall of building opposite to the house.

Later, he held a meeting with the police top brass, including the state Director General of Police, at Lalgarh police station.

Before leaving Netai for Baghbinda village in Purulia district, Narayanan told reporters that the purpose of his tour was to ascertain the feelings of the villagers.

“I will file a report to the central and state governments regarding their feelings and demands,” he said.

Narayan later visited the massacre sites in Baghbinda, where seven supporters of ruling Left Front partner Forward Bloc were gunned down by suspected Maoist guerillas Dec 17.
He met the family members of the victims and assured them that he will look into their pleas.

The Left Front has been sharply critical of politicians and intellectuals who condemned the Netai tragedy and questioning their silence on Baghbinda.

The governor’s decision to include both Netai and Baghbinda in his itinerary has been interpreted as a conscious decision to ward off any such criticism.

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