People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 18, 2007
There Should Be No Displaced People In Nandigram
Prominent intellectuals, academics, film personalities, writers and artists, including Saeed Mirza, Irfan Habib and Prabhat Patnaik have demanded restoration of peace and normalcy in Nandigram. They have also stressed that a situation should not arise where the people are forced to become refugees.
Among others who signed the statement issued on November 14 included M K Raina, Utsa Patnaik, Mihir Bhattacharya, Indira Chandrasekhar, Rajen Prasad, Sashi Kumar, C P Chandrashekar, Venkatesh Athreya, Parthiv Shah, Jayati Ghosh, Shireen Moosvi, Malini Bhattacharya.
Below is the full text of the statement.
WE the undersigned are in complete sympathy with any segment of the peasantry that is engaged anywhere in struggle against forcible dispossession by or on behalf of corporate interests. But in the case of Nandigram, we are of the firm opinion that after the Left Front government's repeated announcements that no chemical hub would be established there, the further continuation of the agitation on this issue was totally unwarranted. It was a means of making the region out of bounds for CPI(M) sympathisers, of preventing the return of refugees who had been driven out of their homes and into refugee camps since January, of keeping out the administrative personnel of the state, and of establishing the unchallenged writ of a coterie over the entire area, all of which violated basic human rights and constituted a blatantly anti-democratic act, reminiscent of what had happened in Kespur in the West Medinipur district a few years earlier.
No voices of protest other than by the Left Front were raised against this flagrant denial of basic rights to thousands of people whose only fault was that they supported the Left Front. While the state government wisely refused to use the police after the tragic fall-out of doing so in March, peace parleys were generally boycotted by the Trinamool Congress, and the central government dithered over sending CRPF to the state. In the absence of intervention by the State machinery and civil society organisations, and of willingness for a political dialogue by the opposition TMC, is it surprising that the displaced CPI(M) sympathisers made their own moves to return to their homes?
The real need of the hour is to ensure that this return does not give rise to a further round of prolonged displacement, this time for the opponents of the Left Front, and that peace and normalcy returns to Nandigram at the earliest. The protests currently being organised against the return of the CPI(M) sympathisers to the area are as unjustified as they are unhelpful for the restoration of normalcy. We believe that the woes of the poor who happen to be Communist sympathisers are no less painful than those of others who are not.