14 December 2010

Slaughter, State Terror In Nandigram

The state violence over the ongoing land struggle by the peasants, agricultural workers and common villagers in West Bengal against forcible land acquisition for industrialisation reached a peak on Wednesday, 14th March, 2007. Around 14 people (as officially announced by the state government, but informally it is estimated that the death toll may rise to more than 100) were brutally succumbed to bullet injuries and about hundreds others were admitted to hospitals in a precarious condition after random firing by the 5000 strong police force at Nandigram under East Midnapore district of West Bengal. A large number of the deceased and wounded persons were women and children. Innumerable innocent villagers (including children) have disappeared.

During the three hour long barbarous police operation on 14th, CPI (M) cadres equipped with deadly arms descended in hordes, trailing a large contingent of police and combat forces and refusing anyone, including the media persons from entering into Nandigram and the surrounding area. This is just like an undeclared emergency to unleash a reign of terror by the police and the ruling party cadres in disguise.

A huge battalion of police entered the strife-torn area in the 14th morning, brutally lathi-charged, threw tear gas shells and all on a sudden started firing indiscriminately upon unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators. Many were shot dead while a large number of villagers were injured weltering in blood on the street. Women and children were at the forefront of the protesters and faced the violence the most. It is alleged by the eyewitnesses that the CPI(M) goons and the police concealed numerous dead bodies.

The villagers of Nandigram were struggling over two and half months against forceful acquisition of agricultural and homestead land (about 14,500 acres in 29 moujas) by the Government for an SEZ, to be promoted as a chemical hub by Salim group of Indonesia. Wednesday's police action came as a surprise since Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee already announced withdrawal of the land acquisition notification, offered to shift the project if the villagers of Nandigram did not want it. But the changed development has barely exposed the Left Front Government and its CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's dubious role.

On 14th March, a group of activists of Krishi Jami Raksha Committee (Committee to save farmland) visited Nandigram. Swapan Ganguly, General Secretary of PBKMS was also part of this delegation. They went to Tanluk Hospital and Nandigram Block Health Centre and talked to the injured villagers and their relatives. But on 14th evening and 15th morning as they tried to enter the affected villages, they were aggressively impeded by the CPI (M) cadres. Earlier, the team also faced violent obstructions from the CPI (M) hooligans on their way to Nandigram. The CPI (M) formed a number of camps surrounding the raided villages and prevented the civilians as well as media persons to enter into the area in an organised manner.

On 15th March, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity filed a petition to the Kolkata High Court urging immediate intervention of the court to reinstate safety and security of the villagers in Nandigram. The organisations also pleaded for an interim order restraining the state administration preventing them from reaching Nandigram to provide assistance to injured and deceased villagers. In response to the appeal a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Honourable Chief Justice S S Nijjar and Honourable Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh passed an order and reprimanded the state government stating "we are satisfied that this action of the police department is wholly unconstitutional and can not be justified under any provision of law." The court in its order directed to open up the area for civil society and voluntary organisations.

WE STRONGLY CONDEMN such a hellish carnage in Nandigram which can only be compared to Jewish-killings by Hitler's Nazi contingent. We are extremely shocked such a fascist torment should have taken place in an independent and democratic state ruled by a Left Front Government.

WE ALSO CONDEMN the dreadful terrorism and repression prevailed upon the villagers by the police and the ruling party cadres. We are strongly opposing the evil nexus between the state machinery and CPI(M) supported goons that have turned on such unjustifiable and unforgivable bloodshed in Nandigram.

WE EXPRESS our wholehearted condolences and sympathies with the families of the deceased and wounded village people of Nandigram.

WE DEMAND an immediate legal action must be taken against all accountable for the killings after an independent and impartial investigation into the matter revealing the fact and bringing the offenders to justice irrespective of their ranks and positions.

WE FURTHER DEMAND immediate removal of police force and armed party cadres from Nandigram and its surrounding areas and any further violence by the police and CPI (M) goons on the poor villagers must be stopped immediately.
WE FURTHER DEMAND that the safety and security of the villagers must be ensured and the State Government must provide medical amenities to the injured villagers as well as economic rehabilitation to the bereaved and affected families.

WE FURTHER DEMAND the unfair process of land acquisition in Singur Nandigram, Haripur, Kulpi and all other agricultural areas must be halted immediately and SEZs and all kind of anti-people policies should also be stopped.
WE FURTHER DEMAND that an independent citizen's committee should be formed for consultation with the marginal peasants, sharecroppers, agricultural workers and other villagers, before any policy decision is taken which may affect their lives and livelihoods.

WE CALL UPON all the trade unions and mass organisations to render solidarity support to the land struggle in Nandigram, Singur, Haripur, Kulpi and elsewhere and to start a protest campaign against this hellish carnage and human rights violation in Nandigram.

WE APPEAL to all voluntary and civil society organisations to provide immediate aid and medical services to the injured and affected villagers in Nandigram.

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