People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 14, 2007
What Happened On January 3?
The following is the text of the press release issued by the CPI(M) central office in New Delhi on January 9, 2006.
A SPATE of accusations have been made against the CPI(M) and the Left Front government headed by it in West Bengal. It has been accused of being insensitive to people’s concerns, anti-democratic etc. Several well-meaning individuals have fallen prey to the misinformation campaign launched by vested interests and the opponents of the West Bengal Left Front and the CPI(M).
It needs to be made clear at the outset that as far as land for industrialisation is concerned, in contrast to other governments the West Bengal government and its chief minister have repeatedly stated that the government will have widespread consultations with local communities and elected Panchayat officials and will not proceed with any acquisition of land without taking all sections into confidence. The government is firmly committed to protect the interests of the peasantry, sharecroppers, agricultural workers and other sections of the rural poor while taking forward the process of industrialisation.
As far as the specific violent incidents related to Nandigram are concerned there has been no notice issued for land acquisition. Yet a deliberate campaign of misinformation is being run by opposition parties. This includes the most outrageous accusation that the communists plan to destroy masjids and mandirs in the area. It needs to be pointed out that at least six CPI(M) workers have been brutally killed and two offices of the Party burnt. In a planned drive, houses of CPI(M) workers were identified in areas where opposition parties dominate and families have been driven out and their homes attacked. This was not a spontaneous outburst but a planned political attack led by the TMC and ultra-Left elements committed to violence. In spite of this huge provocation, the administration has displayed the utmost caution in not using the police so as to enable a normalisation of the situation.
THE FACTS ABOUT THE INCIDENTS
The recent trouble in Nandigram began with attacks on Panchayat members, administrative officials and police on January 3, 2007. East Midnapur is poised to be declared as the first “Nirmal” district of the country, for excellent achievements in sanitation. A central team is scheduled to visit Nandigram on January 12 and 13 for this purpose. On January 3, the preparatory meeting for the visit was taking place in Kalicharanpur Panchayat. The Block officials were also present. The opposition parties, including Trinamul Congress, SUCI, some Naxalite factions and fundamentalist forces gathered together and spread rumors that the said meeting was for land acquisition. Suddenly 25-30 people gathered here and tried to break the meeting. They were violent and abusive. They started pelting stones and the Panchayat secretary was injured. The health sub-centre was also stoned. Only then the Panchayat members informed the Nandigram police station. As the police vehicle was proceeding towards the village, they were attacked by an armed mob. 14 policemen were injured, two others were kidnapped. Police was forced to use tear gas and then fired two rounds in the air. The police vehicle was torched. After some time another mob attacked a police car about five kilometers away and attempted to burn it.
The so-called “Nandigram Bhumi Raksha Committee’’ destroyed bridges and culverts linking roads. On January 4, they burnt a 25KV electric sub-station, In the afternoon, an armed gang with firearms attacked the CPI(M) local committee office and burnt it. Cadres of TMC and other forces roamed around and threatened CPI(M) leaders and sympathisers with dire consequences. In the night, they kidnapped local Panchayat pradhan. Many among the mob were Naxalite activists from Kolkata, Gaya in Bihar and certain places from Orissa. CPI(M) workers were forced to leave the villages where the opposition dominates and took shelter in a nearby camp. That the mob was armed could be seen in the photographs published in newspapers too. The entire incident was meticulously planned.
For the next two days, the Bhumi Raksha Committee blocked the roads within the villages, prohibited every movement and raised money forcibly from the people. The TMC and Congress leaders went there and issued threats of more violence. Meanwhile a heinous communal campaign was also being unleashed. The police remained restrained and they have not entered the village at all. The police convened a meeting on January 5 in Nandigram police station and leaders of Trinamul Congress, SUCI, Jamiat Ulema-I Hind were present. They verbally agreed to maintain peace and then reacted very differently in the villages.
The incident on 6th night --7th morning
On January 6 midnight, armed miscreants of Bhumi Raksha Committee attacked the camps of CPI(M) workers who took refuge there. The attackers hurled bombs. The CPI(M) workers were forced to resist and in the ensuing clash two of the attackers were killed. Almost at the same time, the armed gangs of Bhumi Raksha Committee unleashed mayhem within the village. They killed CPI(M) supporters, torched homes and Panchayat offices. Five bodies of CPI(M) activists and sympathisers who have been killed – lynched and hacked to death – were found. They were: Bhudev Mandal, Sankar Samanta, Rabin Bhuia, Sudeb Mandal and Biswajit Maiti. According to reports, two more CPI(M) workers were also killed though their bodies have not yet been found. Four more Party workers have been kidnapped. Some of those who were killed have been threatened earlier too and it was reported in the newspapers.
To cover up the ghastardly killing, the TMC, Congress and others called a bandh. On the night of January 7 and the morning of January 8 they burnt two CPI(M) offices in Talapati and Bhekutia-Dibanandapur.
There was no case of so-called retaliation provocation from CPI(M). The Party leaders, including Biman Basu have appealed for maintaining peace to all political parties. (INN)