People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 50

December 10, 2006

What Really Happened In Singur On December 1?


Benoy Konar


WHAT happened at Singur on December 1? According to the description offered in a section of the TV and newspapers, democracy was supposedly raped that day at Singur, and ‘tigers’ personified in the police launched a barbarous attack on some innocent and harmless ‘sheep’. The rumour heard around is that a few ‘friends’ and intellectuals have been disturbed at this. The media that is on sale for wads of cash is the instrument of reaction, and the Left Front government could survive and become stronger by waging a continuous struggle against these forces.


Man possesses two eyes. Besides the physical eye, there is the eye of knowledge, which arrives at the truth based on intelligence and judgement. With physical eyes, we perceive the sun going around the earth. In the eye of intelligence, we realise that it is the earth that revolves round the sun. Looking at the developments with the eye of judgement and intelligence, we are sure that the confused can rid themselves of their confusion.


The task of fencing off the land taken over started from November 30. Section 144 of Cr PC was notified. From seven in the morning of December 1, nearly one thousand mostly local residents started the work of fencing and there was a tiffin break after 12 noon. There were no police personnel inside the village. The villagers then informed that Trinamul Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya has assembled nearly 250 people at the Taltola Ashram (a crematorium for the poor) at the Purbapara of the Beraberi village. The assembly mostly comprised Naxalites and SUCI workers brought from outside.


The police then organised a march past at some distance from the gathering. A DSP and a woman sub-inspector then approached the gathering and their intent was to disperse away the gathering by reasoning with them. The gathering attacked the two officers as they approached them. The DSP was hit on the head with a whole brick and he received severe head injuries. The woman sub-inspector was slashed with a razor and was badly wounded. 


When the police tried to come forward arrows, bombs, crackers, and acid bulbs were hurled at them. The police exploded a couple of rounds of tear gas shells. On being chased by the police, the gathering ran from the place except MLA Bhattacharya and a few local people. These were mostly outsiders. On the way, they set fire to the dried pile of jute sticks. Had not the people doused the fire, things would have taken a serious turn.


From there, one group crossed the field and ransacked the cowshed and the living room of the CPI(M) local committee member Kartick Das in Khaserbheri village. They searched for Kartick Das for killing him but could not find him. Then they ransacked the house of the two brothers Nemai Langal and Netai Langal. They attacked the house of the poor kisan Uttam Das and on not getting him, attacked, and bloodied his old mother. They threw into a nearby pond from his house, three sacks of urea, three sacks of NKP fertilisers, and three sacks of potato seeds.


They ransacked the house of Kripasindhu Khanra. In all, 20 houses were attacked. All those whose houses were attacked had given land on their own volition. The attackers from outside did not know which house belonged to whom. Trinamul Congress worker Dilip Das whose land has not been taken over did the task of identification. On being chased by the police, he climbed on to the roof of his house. The police followed him to the roof and beat him with lathis. This particular scene of his being beaten up by the police was shown repeatedly on TV channels. However, the TV camera was not focussed at the manner in which these so-called kisan sympathisers indulged in violence.


Had the police indulged in beating with rage, nobody was expected to survive; even if they would live, they would have broken bones all over the body. Some TV channels showed that even after getting up, Dilip Das stood up and walked to the police van. It is easy to appreciate that police avoided the whole body and beat him to ensure that there is no critical injury. 


The police arrested 48 persons. Of them, 24 were Naxalites who had travelled from places afar. 16 people from five villages were local. Of those arrested, eight were innocent. There cannot be distinctions made during a time of rioting and thus, they were arrested, and should be released. The truth is that the police remained restrained and used the minimum force against the yardstick of the way the hooligans had attacked, wounded the police, and had ransacked houses. 


Questions are raised as to why the police should exert force, and wield lathis. I hope nobody will say that equality prevails in the society and there are no contradictions, and thus there is no need for the police. The work of the police is not to make drawings or teach in schools and colleges. The police are the instrument of repression. It is for the government to decide whom they shall repress. In this case, the government has decided that an effort must be made for industrial expansion in the state within the socio-economic structure, as far as it is possible, in the interest of the people, to lessen the pressure on agriculture, aimed towards generation of employment.


The majority of the kisans caring little for the threats of the Trinamul alliance accepted the price for the land or given letters of consent. Letters of consent for 25-26 acres of land could not be received in the troubled areas. The letters of consent could not be obtained because two families are abroad, and for the rest there are court cases among partners. Some forces are trying to indulge in violence and create disorder for lowly and narrow political interest and bring ruination to West Bengal. It is democracy to repress these forces in the interests and security of the people of the state.


Would those who appear anguished and deeply saddened at the use of minimum force, ask the police to shun lathis and come with flower petals and pens, should they or their institutions are attacked in the future by criminals or a rampaging mob?


Trinamul Congress MLA Sougata Roy keeps saying on TV channels that 10,000 families or 40,000 people are dependent on the nearly 1000 acres of land at Singur and that would be ruined completely. It is as if 10 shataks of land or 0.1 acres of land per head gives them a life of dignity. This is imagination running riot. He is quite devoid of senses with political vendetta in his heart-and-mind, it seems. The land taken over at Singur comprises mostly single-crop land, a quarter being double-crop, and some land often remains fallow. 


Those with even a modicum of knowledge about agriculture would realise that even if for the sake of arguments it is assumed that the entirety of land is double-crop, the mandays per acre would be at most 150 per year, and thus 1,50,000 mandays for 1000 acres of land. In other words, 500 people would have work for 300 days a year. However, if a factory comes up at Singur, 7-8 thousand people will be employed, in and outside of the factory. If the landowners keep as fixed deposits in banks the amount they have received as compensation, their income would be 10-15 times more than that from land.


Sharecroppers, too, shall be adequately compensated. The agricultural labourers will have alternative employment. The use of machinery is increasing in agriculture and employment is on decline. The agricultural labourers can work in the fields for not more than 130 days per year even now. Yet, the Trinamul Congress and the ultra-revolutionaries are trying to convince the people that the boys and girls of Singur who study in schools and colleges are eager for the work of agricultural labourers and would be employed as such.


It is universally recognised that industrial development is emergent for the interests of the kisans. Thus, 66 years ago, in a memorandum before the Floud Commission set up by the Bengal government during British days regarding agricultural problems, the Kisan Sabha wrote, “Until industrialisation develops at a fast pace, loss-making farms and an immense rural unemployment cannot be evaded.’


We saw someone saying on the TV “Communists would once utter slogans that the land belongs to the tiller, what a fall.” These fools think that the people are also foolish. The communists utter this slogan to establish the ownership of the kisans instead of that of the landlords. The kisans receive good compensation price for the land because they now have ownership over the land. This, these elements fail to understand.


The Trinamul Congress, broken down with despair, is delirious. Getting into an alliance with this force of reaction is the ultra-revolutionary force. It is the lesson of history that the extreme right and the extreme left befriend each other against progress. They would consider individual assassination rather than people’s consciousness as the road to revolution. They have gathered here from all over the country like ‘vultures’. There is no scope for any neglect in the task of building up mass struggles to isolate them. (December 5, 2006)