10 August 2011

Update on Khangardihi Violence

After July 11, when our last report was written, two more families of Khangardihi village have reported intimidation and threats. Bhakti Dului’s wife reports that she has been asked not to farm her land till her husband returns. Srikanta Dului and his family also fled the village, as Srikanta was being threatened with violence because he avoided attending the kangaroo court being organized by village level Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders.

On July 30, after a great deal of persuasion of the district-level TMC leadership and the police, a meeting was organised in the presence of the Inspector in charge of the Midnapore Sadar police station. A written agreement was signed by PBKMS leaders, district-level and local leaders of the TMC, stating that the families would return; that they would be allowed to farm their land and, as a peace gesture, PBKMS would organise a medical camp in the village. On the evening of the medical camp, another meeting would be held to sort out problems.

PBKMS activists were invited by village-level TMC leaders to a meeting to discuss the modalities of the medical camp slated for a few days later. They were instead heckled and threatened. Later, the TMC village leaders made the excuse that as Ramzan had started they would rather not hold the camp.

In the meantime, the families that have returned have been told not to plant paddy on their land. They have been ostracized - other villagers have been told not to give them plough animals or tractors. No agricultural worker is allowed to work on their land. Villagers have been told not to talk to them.

The four families tried to farm their land on their own. PBKMS members from nearby villages had assured them that they would arrange workers and plough their land. PBKMS members also organised the medical camp in a nearby village on the agreed date defying the TMC village bullies. However, on August 6, Mukti Dului was again badly beaten up. His ‘crime’ was that he had dared to talk to some of his neighbours. The families are too frightened to complain to the police or to speak to anyone, as they fear that the police cannot protect them.

Life in rural Bengal thus continues as it has always done – with intimidation, threats, fines and physical violence of the “rulers”, who have taken the law in their own hands.

Related Posts: Green terror in Khangardihi 
                     Letter to Mamata 
                     Fact-Finding Mission 

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