People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 09, 2007
SITARAM YECHURY IN RAJYA SABHA
Design To Destabilise An Elected Govt
Through Maoist Violence
I WANT to begin my presentation with a question. The question of a discussion [on Nandigram] arose on the very first day of the session, the day the house was adjourned after passing an obituary reference. We have been saying since then that law and order is a state subject and it is not correct to discuss this issue in parliament. If you want, you discuss the Nandigram issue in connection with that of SEZs [special economic zones]….discuss it in connection with the Maoist violence. If only they [the BJP] had accepted this suggestion, they won’t have got a chance to disrupt the house for two days……
The first thing is that we condemn this violence. We don’t want violence there or, for hat matter, anywhere. Nandigram and Bengal should not have been subjected to the events that have been taking place there since January 3 . Now, while condemning it, we would like to tell the house why all this happened after all. The question of the SEZs came up first in 1998, when the then NDA government wanted to push it through a government order. A law was passed later on, during the UPA regime, and so many objections came up in the process; we are still urging the government to take them into consideration.
There were four main points in these objections and call for an amended approach, not only in the context of Nandigram but of the events taking place in the country. The first issue is of land acquisition, which is being done under an 1894 law; even after 60 years of independence we are without a law about several questions in land acquisition. What will be the basis of land acquisition? How will the owners of the acquired land be compensated? What will happen to those who are not the owners of the land they depend upon? We have been asking for a law on these matters when they were in the government, and now they are trying to corner us on the same issues!
The second issue is that, of the land being allotted for the SEZs today, only 25 percent will be used for production and the rest will go to the developers. It was done 50:50 after some hullabaloo, but we don’t want that any amount of land should go to the real estate mafia in the name of the SEZs.
Third, the tax concessions being given to the SEZs are distorting the non-SEZ industrialisation process and, lastly, labour laws should be mandatory in the SEZs.
We have very categorically said that a law was indeed passed about these four aspects, we too contributed to its passage, but we do say on the basis of experience so far that all these aspects call for amendments. The government of West Bengal too has categorically said that no SEZ proposal would come from there unless necessary amendments are made about these aspects. Those who wanted a discussion on Nandigram, forgot to say anything regarding the SEZs and remained silent on these aspects. Remaining silent on these issues is, of course, their democratic right but we do want that the government must seriously ponder the same.
As for Nandigram, there are 341 blocks in West Bengal but the discussion is on only one block and a half. It is on the basis of these one and a half blocks that the opposition is demanding that article 356 be clamped upon Bengal.
They say that we have recaptured Nandigram by force but the fact is that our people, who are the legitimate owners of their houses have gone back to their houses; our people, who till the lands there have gone back to their lands; the children who were denied schooling are now restarting their life after a year. Is it a crime for people to go back to their houses? To go back to till their lands? If they are charging us that we have done this through force, I say that we have done it by resisting force, not by employing force. For 11 months they were deprived of a home, thrown out as refugees, and left to live in camps. Not a word of sympathy was there for them. Are they not human beings? But now that they have gone back to their houses, there is great agony! There is great outburst!
I have stated again and again that the entire issue of Nandigram started when there was a proposal, as part of an all-India choice, and Nandigram was one out of the nine locations called the petrochemical and petroleum investment regions. There was a proposal for a chemical hub there. There was indeed a misapprehension among the people that their lands would be acquired, but no formal acquisition notice was ever issued. There as a notice issued by the Haldia Development Authority which was rescinded and, on February 9, the chief minister of the state publicly and clearly stated that there would be no land acquisition in Nandigram.
After the events of the 3rd all the approach routes to Nandigram are cut off and bridges destroyed on the 4th and 5th. You have no access to the civil administration on these dates. Attempts were made to form peace committees there to bring normalcy, and all-party meetings were organised with the participation of all political parties except the main opposition which boycotted. It was decided that the civil administration needs to be restored there. But the opposition just laughed it away. If you say that 8 out of 14 persons were killed there by the police firing on [March] 14, why don’t you tell as to how the remaining 6 were killed? Let me tell you, those innocent 6 were killed in a cross-firing with the police.
The same people who used to say that thousands were killed in Nandigram, their bodies were thrown into rivers, and what not, today admit that 14 were killed on that day. We do not deny it. But they do not say how 6 persons out of these 14 died. A number of persons have been killed by Maoist violence in the states ruled by them, in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere, but we do not demand article 356 there. That is a separate issue and we would discuss it separately.
Who were those 6 persons? In the meantime, more than 5,000 people were uprooted from their homes and lands, and had to live in refugee camps.
So far, 27 persons of our party have been killed. I would give here a complete list with names and addresses, and I challenge that others too come up with their lists……. Let me tell you that so far more than 50 cases of rape and other crimes have been lodged there, and our people have been the victims in most of the cases.
The real facts are being ignored. The leader of the opposition correctly said that now there is no difference on this matter. It is a fact --- from the Islamic extremists to the RSS and BJP, to the Trinamul Congress, to the foreign funded NGOs, all have ganged up today, and we know that this is not new when it is against the communists.
I am prepared to quote here a number of press clippings quoting the Maoists themselves about their penetration there. The prime minister said, “Maoist violence is the single most danger for internal security in our country.” The National Security Adviser accepts Maoist presence in Nandigram, and he is on record saying that this is there. The country’s Intelligence Bureau says so. I quote the the newspaper DNA, “The Intelligence Bureau has come to the conclusion that arms and ammunition are being sent to the activists of the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee spearheading a movement to retain control over Nandigram.” The home minister [too said so]….. and this is a quotation from a Maoist leader which appeared in the mainstream media. It says, “The Maoists stepped into Nandigram in January 2007 and quickly put together a party unit. They rustled up a 350-strong people’s militia and fought.” It also goes on to say, “The ammunition was mostly supplied by local Trinamul Congress leaders.”
The Defence Quarterly, a most respected defence journal in the country, says, “As recent as in October 2006, the Indian Army recovered a massive cache of state-manufactured arms and ammunition in the eastern state of Calcutta. Three people including a soldier were arrested in connection with the seizure of arms. The hoard included anti-person mines and ammunition.” Again, according to an October 3, 2006 BBC report, an Army spokesman said, “The cache of arms was meant for Maoist rebels and other terrorist groups active in and around eastern West Bengal state.”
What more proof does one need? They are themselves saying they are there, that the movement is going on in our leadership. They won’t of course say where they are getting arms from. There was violence in several states of the country during the 48 hours bandh on the question of Nandigram.
I am grateful to the Congress party that they gave me the chance to speak first; I would have all the more grateful if they had sent the CRPF there earlier. The state government’s demand to send the CRPF in was made on October 27 and it was sent in on November 12. much could have been saved if only they had sent it earlier. For, during this gap, the Maoists say, “we laid mines on all approach roads to Sonachura, Garchakraberia and Gokulnagar…… by then, the CPI(M) would have been destroyed in East Midnapore.” So, that the political objective --- destruction of the CPI(M) --- and for this destruction, who are all reigned together? It is from Islamic fundamentalists to the RSS, from the Trinamul Congress and the Congress to the foreign funded NGOs, and all that under the leadership of the Maoists…… This they say is the Keshpur line. But what Keshpur line! It was done in Panshkura, in Garbeta. Under the patronage of a political party, armed Maoists or terrorists go to an area and drive the local people out by terror. In Bengal it is not happening for the first time. It has already taken place thrice and now is the fourth time. But they were defeated three times, and would be defeated a fourth time. They have to understand that it would cost much for the country if they, in their narrow political interests, continue to shelter the Maoists.
It is a larger battle if, as the prime minister says, Maoist violence is on an increase in the country. The question is: what you are doing about it; how do you want to tackle it? Our appeal to all political parties is that they, in their narrow political interest, must not shelter the forces of this kind. Sushma-ji said several times that we are talking to them in Nepal but we are opposing them here. Yes, we would talk to them here as well if they shun violence and give up arms. If the Maoists are prepared o lay down arms and come to the democratic mainstream, Sitaram Yechury would go to talk to them, whether it is in India or in Nepal.
The basic point is that whatever has happened in Nandigram in recent months should not have taken place.
In the last eleven months whatever has happened in Nandigram is actually a direct political challenge to destabilize an elected government there, and this is precisely the logical conclusion – that they all want to lead up to imposing President’s Rule there. The destabilization of an elected government --- if this is permitted by the use of extremist forces and Maoist violence – is something that is not in the interest of India; forget West Bengal, forget the CPI(M). We are playing with fire. If you are stoking them and actually patronizing and supporting them in order to settle petty political scores here and there, you are actually playing with the future of the entire country. So, Nandigram is an abject lesson for all of us. All this evidence that I have given shows how the Maoists penetrated, how they have gone into each of those villages, and, how they themselves mocked at the Trinamul Congress saying, “they think they are the leaders, they are not; but we are the ones who are actually controlling.”
When they have given an open declaration that this is a battle against the state, is has nothing to do with the land, it has nothing to do with the area, this is an open declaration of an armed action against an Indian state. If this is ignored, if that is not taken seriously because of your petty politics of trying to settle scores with the CPI(M) or others, I think, the larger picture is being lost for which we all will have to pay a heavy price.
Therefore, with the responsibility that is required of all of us, we will have to take up this issue in the larger context. People who had actually been driven out of their homes have gone back to their homes, as I said, not by using force but resisting. We want peace, we want tranquility, and all efforts would be made in this regard. Let me assure this house that no crime, if at all has happened there, will go unpunished; no crime will be ignored and action would be taken. Now, let this matter be at rest with the point that this is a larger question that we can only ignore at our own peril and that the larger issue must be kept in mind. Do not reduce it to settling petty political scores. Keep the interests of India in mind.
This is the appeal that we have to make. I want to assure this august house that as far as the CPI(M) is concerned, with the fullest confidence and commitment to democracy that we have shown all these years and which we will continue to show, we do not want this process to be undermined. These forces must be put to check, and, that is my sincere appeal.