People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 18, 2007
CPI(M) ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES MEET GOVERNOR
Nandigram Situation: Myths And Reality
A delegation comprising four Bengal CPI(M) MPs and one CPI(M) MLA met the Bengal governor on November 9. The delegation in a detailed memorandum apprised the Bengal governor of the train of events that had occurred in Nandigram, and the document brought the governor up-to-date on the situation prevailing there. Earlier, the Bengal governor in a statement called for the establishment of peace at Nandigram and exhorted the state administration and the representatives of the people to intervene.
The delegation consisted of Taritbaran Topdar (who led the delegation), Prasanta Pradhan, Sudhangsu Sil, Mainul Hasan, all MPs, and Rupa Bagchi, MLA. The Bengal governor assured the delegation that he would have the issue looked into towards amelioration.
The full text of the memorandum that the delegation presented to the Bengal governor is given below:
WE would like to draw your attention to the developments that have taken place at Nandigram and its surrounding areas over the past eleven months, and the consequences thereof.
From the beginning of 2007, a large number of people have been put to a great deal of distress. The train of events started on January 3 when a meeting in progress at the Kalicharanpur Gram Panchayat, for declaration of a Nirmal Gram, was misconstrued deliberately by the Trinamul Congress leadership as a plan to take over land for a proposed chemical hub. An attacking gang of the Trinamul Congress and the Naxalites, the Panchayat broke up the meeting and chased away government officials, set on fire police vehicles, and ransacked houses of CPI(M) supporters nearby. This set the pattern of things to develop over the next ten months.
From the evening of January 3, houses of CPI(M) supporters were attacked by an organisation called the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Samity (BUPS) or the so-called ‘committee to prevent eviction from land’ that was set up and run by the Trinamul Congress and its allies the Naxalites, and the SUCI with outside support declared by the local units of the Congress and the BJP.
Since the night of the January 3, the entire area of Nandigram, and its surrounding localities were forcefully taken over by the armed gangs of the BUPS and the Trinamul Congress and they allowed only their writ to run, they would not allow either the police or the civil administration any entry. This was the time when they aligned themselves with the armed Maoists from Jharkhand and Orissa to enter the area.
Bridges were destroyed, culverts were broken up, all roads leading onto and out of Nandigram were slashed up, and Nandigram was declared a ‘liberated zone’ where the state government would not be allowed entry.
A large amount of explosives and a large number of guns by then had been sneaked into Nandigram and they were distributed to a large number goons and anti-socials who swore allegiance to the Trinamul Congress, the Naxalites, and the SUCI under the garb and guise of the BUPS. Ostensibly, the violent ‘movement’ was to ‘prevent the LF government from acquiring land for a chemical hub project,’ which was a lie.
Bengal chief minister declared in a huge CPI(M) rally at Khejuri in February that the LF government had not issued any notice at all for any such acquisition of land for any such project that would include Nandigram and its surrounds. However, the violence was continued with by the Trinamul Congress and its allies.
On the morning of March 14, a police firing had to be resorted to when violence was let loose by the Trinamul Congress and its allies. Bengal Left Front chairman and Bengal chief minister both expressed regret at the incident and called for peace.
Specific targets have been made of the CPI(M) workers, and supporters and their houses were looted and then set on fire, forcing them to leave hearth-and-home and take refuge in the miserable conditions of relief camps that were set up on an emergency basis. Even the relief camps have since then been routinely attacked, and the refugees prevented form going back to their villages.
The Trinamul Congress now joined by cadres of the Maoists ejected at gunpoint hundreds of people every day from Nandigram villages and from surrounding areas. At present more than 3,500 people are rendered refugees in their own homeland. 1,500 live in the inadequacies of relief camps and the rest have found shelter in houses of relatives away from Nandigram. Men, women, and children are not able to lead a normal life and are terror-struck.
What is criminal in intent are the acts of commission by the Trinamul Congress and its allies even after the Bengal chief minister again clearly declared subsequently in September that there was no plan to set up a chemical hub at Nandigram and that the desolate sandhead at the mouth of the River Ganges called Nayachar has been selected for the chemical hub extending from Haldia.
In the meanwhile, more and more attacks have been organised on the CPI(M) workers and CPI(M) supporters. Until date, 13 more CPI (M) supporters have been done to death. Women have been raped and killed. Cattle, poultry, and fishes poisoned. Stocks of cereals, vegetables, food stuff looted. A business is run by the Trinamul Congress and the Maoists (under the cover of the BUPS) where funds are extracted from the villagers before allowing them to till the land and harvest crops, or to run shops.
Every kind of developmental work was brought to a standstill. 15,000 children could not take doses of pulse polio. Rs 2 crore worth of health infrastructural work had to be abandoned. The health centres and the subsidiary health centres virtually could not function. Rs 2 crore worth of electrification could not be done. With no developmental work allowed by the Trinamul Congress-Maoists, the future of development even next year looks bleak with the inability of the district administration to produce utilisation certificates for funds allocated and not used.
The CPI (Maoist) has added a violent dimension to the imbroglio at Nandigram. They have brought in groups of armed and trained action forces from outside of Nandigram, even outside of the two Midnapores, east, and west from Jharkhand and Orissa. They have coordinated efforts with the Trinamul Congress setting up joint commands at Nandigram and surrounding areas. The action is coordinated by Ranjit Pal of the Maoists (the self-declared killer of JMM MP Sunil Mahato), and Subhendu Adhikari of the Trinamul Congress. Three landmine bursts have occurred recently killing two CPI(M) supporters and it is apprehended that many more landmines have been planted in and around Nandigram. The Maoists control a large tract of land from Garchakraberia to Sonachura. The DNA of Mumbai and the national daily Economic Times (copies enclosed) have carried the details of the Maoist plans of action very recently.
To fund the armed activities the Trinamul Congress and the Maoists have stolen a huge quantity of products from the Burn Standard factory at Jellingham and sold them in localities of south 24 Parganas. They also cut down and illegally sold a large number of prime and valuable trees. In both instances, the criminal were caught and they confessed to the crimes.
The need of the hour is peace and development. The Bengal chief minister has already briefed the media about the outcome of a meeting between the district administration and the BUPS led by the Trinamul Congress where it was agreed that the remaining concerned police officers would be transferred, cases lodged withdrawn, and payment compensation to victims fixed. In return, refugees living in the unhealthy conditions of the relief camps would be allowed a safe return. To this, the Trinamul Congress, and the BUPS agreed but later did not allow the refugees to go back to their villages.
The Trinamul Congress leadership has recently declared publicly at a rally at Riyapara that anyone willing to live at Nandigram shall have to become a member of the Trinamul Congress or else will be either killed or ousted. In attacking the CPI(M) office there, the miscreants also tore down and burnt two Red Flags.
A violent turn of events occurred soon after. Following the attack on the Riyapara office of the CPI(M), the combined forces of the Trinamul Congress, the BUPS, and the Maoists crossed a canal on November 5, entered into newer areas, a process they have started during the festival season, and threatened to do away with relief camps. People in the relief camps have had a very miserable time for the past eleven months.
You may kindly recall that the destitute people of Nandigram who were driven out from home-and-hearth had met you earlier in deputation (copy enclosed) communicating to you the misery they faced at the relief camps.
They could take it no longer. In utter desperation and braving bullets and bombs, they with the help of the people in the nearby areas came out of the camps and marched peacefully towards their home villages.
Bengal Left Front has issued a specific appeal for peace and for the safe and secure return to villages of all people living outside of them, irrespective of political affiliation. The men, women, and children are to be ensured a safe rehabilitation. The Left Front has also called upon the people of Nandigram to cooperate with the police and the civil administration to help establish peace and ensure a new beginning for the stalled works of development. There should not be allowed any instance of retaliation.
The state administration has recently reiterated what the chief minister told the media earlier. The package announced include compensation for the victims, shifting of the remaining police officers, punishment for the guilty, withdrawal of cases, and providing relief to the distressed people. The police will with permission of the concerned political parties enter the Nandigram zone and set up police camps to begin the peace process.
Out of fear, some villagers have very recently left their places, and have taken shelter in the Nandigram police station and a nearby school. A section of them has already gone back to their villages after assurance of safety and security by the erstwhile and returned refugees.
Currently, peace talks have been initiated at the lower level and the concerned political parties have agreed that they want to restore normalcy and allow to the setting up of police camps. If there is no interference from above, everything will be normal very soon.
Peace negotiations have commenced at the level of the district administration with participation of political parties. Negotiations can be continued with the BUPS and the Trinamul Congress but cannot be organised with the CPI (Maoist) for the latter has been the propagators of an intense violence taking the shelter of the Trinamul Congress and the BUPS.