The West Bengal government, led by Mamata Banerjee, has withdrawn its petition from the Supreme Court in the Nandigram firing case, in which 14 villagers were killed in police firing in 2007. With the withdrawal of the appeal, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) can now chargesheet the police officers involved in the incident.
The Supreme Court had earlier stayed the filing of chargesheet against the police officials on an appeal by the then CPM government in West Bengal against the Calcutta High Court order.
Mamata Banerjee's move to withdraw the petition can be seen as a major blow to CPM which had wanted the CBI's probe against the police officials involved in the incident to be set aside.
In January 2007, a movement led by Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) against the notification for acquiring land in Nandigram and Khejuri in East Midnapore district, 125 km from Kolkata, for a special economic zone (SEZ) snowballed into a major agrarian agitation as protesters dug roads and damaged bridges, virtually cutting off Nandigram.
The disturbances culminated in police firing on March 14 that left 14 villagers dead and many others injured. There were also allegations of torture against the policemen.
The policemen, involved in the firing, were former Inspector General (Western Range) Arun Gupta, Deputy Inspector General N Ramesh Babu, Superintendent of Police Anil G Srinivas and District Magistrate Anup Agarwal. The police firing began from two ends - Bhangabera and Tekhali. Haldia Additional Superintendent of Police Satyajit Bandopadhay led the operations. He was assisted by Khejuri Officer in Charge, Amit Hati. From the Tekhali end, the firing was led by Additional Superintendent of Police Debashsi Boral, who was helped by Nandigram police station Officer in Charge Sekhar Roy.
The chain of incidents led to outrage across the country as civil rights groups, intellectuals and farmer bodies expressed solidarity with the protestors and flayed the then Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) led Left Front government for its "brutality".
The developments happened alongside the protests in Singur, where the government's bid to lease out land to Tata Motors for the Nano car came unstuck after the automobile major shifted the factory to Gujarat as it was faced with a fierce anti-land acquisition protest.
The Marxists, entrenched in power since 1977, slipped in the quicksand of Nandigram and Singur, losing one election after another across the state as their hitherto impregnable rural base collapsed. Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress defeated them in the Assembly elections held in May last year.