06 December 2011

Petition To Mamata Banerjee On Nandigram

[On November 10, 2011, in the time of Operation Nutan Surjauday (New Sunrise armed goons of the then ruling party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) “invaded” Nandigram and tried to re-establish their stranglehold over the villages there. A film showing the struggles of the people of Nandigram was released and a press conference at the Press Club, Kolkata. During the discussion after the film, it was decided to send a petition to the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mrs Mamata Banerjee to draw her attention to the current state in Nandigram and take some decisive action.]

Smt. Mamata Banerjee,
Honourable Chief Minister,
Government of West Bengal,

Dear Madam,

It is now four years since Operation Nutan Surjauday, that terrible time in November 2007, when the armed goons of the then ruling party “invaded” Nandigram and tried once again to establish their stranglehold over the villages there. From January 2007 till the Panchayat elections in 2008, the brave people of Nandigram fought against oppression and terrorism to put a stop to the forcible acquisition of their land for an SEZ. They suffered tremendous human and material loss, undergoing much mental trauma. Women were especially the victims of sexual and all other kinds of torture. They looked forward to the 2011 elections and had expected many things from the new Government. However though it is now more than six months since your Government was installed, many of their expectations remain unfulfilled.

From past experience, we know that the cause of the Nandigram people is close to your heart.  As people and organisations that supported the Nandigram struggle whole-heartedly, we therefore believe it is our responsibility to draw your attention to their problems, and to seek your intervention to solve these problems. These are as follows:

1.       Some of the victims of the Nandigram 14th March firing and the other atrocities there are still in need of medical care. As this is not always freely available from Government hospitals, the victims have either to spend money from their own pockets or have to depend on others’ charity for their treatment. Abhijit Giri, Tapasi Jana and Haimavati Haldar of Gokulnagar are three examples of such victims. We would request you to arrange for free treatment for all such victims from the best Government facilities available (including free testing facilities, free medicines and support for travel and stay of the patient and a companion).

2.       Innumerable false criminal cases were filed against the people of Nandigram and Khejuri during their two years of struggle. Our estimates show that hundreds of such cases were filed between 2007 and 2008.Hundreds of innocent people from these areas are still having to run to courts to defend themselves at great expense. Sedition charges have been filed against three persons and they continue to languish in jail. We ask for immediate withdrawal of all these cases.

3.       The State of West Bengal has so far compensated only famileis of 14 persons killed, 159 injured persons and 3 rape victims of the 14th March 2007 incident at Nandigram. However, these numbers are very few compared to the actual number of people who were injured on March 14th and all the other heinous incidents that took place from January 2007 till the May 2008 Panchayat elections. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in its report dated February 8th 2008 has stated that during the period 6th November to 12th November 2007, 7 persons were killed and 32 persons were injured. It further stated that “the next of kin of the dead in these incidents and also the injured persons should be compensated in the same manner as directed by the High Court of Calcutta for the victims of the incidents of 14th March, 2007”. On 14th March 2011, PBKMS and APDR had demanded compensation from the Chief Secretary for a list of 455 injured persons (including rape victims) of 14th March 2007 who had not received anything so far. No action has been taken on this list or on the NHRC report (which the former CPI(M)-led Government had refused to accept), despite the change in Government.  According to a PBKMS report, from January 3rd to January 7th 2007, 4 people died and at least 25 persons   were injured in Nandigram.  In addition, the People’s Tribunal on Nandigram has also collated reports of people who were injured and /or sexually assaulted in all the other incidents that took place in Nandigram. We would request your Government to enquire into all such reports and to provide compensation to all such injured and/or sexually assaulted persons in Nandigram.

4.       In November 2007, a number of people had their houses destroyed in Operation Nutan Surjauday. According to a report submitted to the NHRC by the Chief Secretary of the previous Government, 560 houses were completely destroyed and 399 houses were partially damaged. Later compensation was distributed by the previous Government before the 2008 Panchayat elections in a totally partisan manner. Reports from the area suggest that very few people who lost their houses actually got this money. The NHRC in its report declared that “since the State Government does not appear to have discharged its primary obligation in preventing the attack by CPI (M) cadres on 6th November, 2007, it should bear the responsibility for the loss of life and property following the attack.... The compensation that the State Government proposes to make for damaged houses appears to be quite inadequate. The Commission considers recommending enhanced compensation for fully and partially damaged houses. The Enquiry Team of the Commission has reported that after the incidents of 6th November, 2007 several houses of BUPC supporters have been occupied by CPI (M) cadres and they are now claiming to be owners of those houses and demanding compensation. The Commission considers it necessary to appoint a Committee to suggest compensation regarding damage that occurred and to ensure that the monetary relief does not fall in wrong hands and it reaches the genuine persons.”  It is therefore suggested that the present Government should enquire into this matter and compensate   those who actually lost their houses, but were not compensated.
We expect your Government to enquire into all these cases of loss and suffering in order to compensate them and take corrective steps immediately. 

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