07 August 2011

Letter To Mamata On Khangardihi

Smt Mamata Banerjee,
Honorable Chief Minister,
Government of West Bengal,
Writers’ Building ,

Date: 11 July 2011

Dear Mamatadi,
An essential part of the change that you sought in West Bengal was a change in the political culture which would allow for the peaceful co-existence of different political views. We had supported this from our Samity fully. However, events in Midnapore Kotwali PS have shown that even after the elections, such a change in political culture has not taken place. Members of our union, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity, have been subject to various forms of torture only because they have said that they have the right to hold an independent political view.

To put the matter briefly, about 200 villagers from Khangardihi village in Midnapore Kotwali PS, all of them from the low caste Bagdi caste, had formed their own organisation and had later joined our union in mid 2010. As you know well and as is usual for us, we took up issues like NREGS implementation, problems in the midday meal scheme, local corruption etc. in the village. The independent functioning of lower caste people seems to have hurt the egos of the dominant village leadership. Most of these were with the CPI(M) initially and later switched to the TMC.  On at least two occasions before the elections, the PBKMS members were attacked for raising issues of corruption and injustice. With the administration and our intervention we managed to restore peace.
After the elections, a “cleansing” operation began in the village, with all being told that they must join the TMC and “surrender’. Some of our members protested and were beaten up. 15 people have now been forced to flee the village. An FIR has been filed, but witnesses are being intimidated. Many others have been beaten up, but have not dared to file complaints, after receiving threats of further torture. In a village where we had 200 members, now not even one person is allowed to phone or contact us or even their relatives who have fled from the village. An old woman, one of those who had fled from the village, returned to the village for the funeral of her niece, but found that even her own relatives were too scared to speak to her.

The police have taken no action and in fact the local PS seems to be helping the accused. We have informed the ASP and have been told that he could arrange for a police escort for the people to return, an impractical suggestion because there is no security for those who return after the police leaves. We have requested various people within the TMC hierarchy, starting from the district (Shri Prodyut Ghosh, Shri Dinen Rai and Shri Mrigen Maity) to the state level leadership (Shri Mukul Roy and Shri Partha Chatterjee) to take steps to ensure that the families outside can go back and live in peace in the village, but there has been very little progress, with village level leaders turning a deaf ear to their seniors in the TMC leadership.

We would request you to take action on the matter to ensure that the families can go back to their homes and so that dissent is not treated as a crime , and people can live together peacefully.

A detailed note of the events  prepared by the Samity is attached for your information and action. We are also sending a note from a team consisiting of members of NAPM, APDR , Midnapore Suraksha Samity and Janaswasthya Adhikar Manch that independently enquired into the matter.

Thanking you,
Yours sincerely,

Anuradha Talwar
Swapan Ganguly

Related Posts: Green Terror at Khangardihi
                     Update on Khangardihi  
                     Fact-Finding Mission

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