People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 29

July 18, 2010

TWO KILLED IN THE THIRD INCIDENT OF FIRING IN AP

 

Blood Thirsty Congress Regime

Fires On Peaceful Agitators

 

THE blood thirstiness of the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh is yet to be quenched. The brutal firing and lathicharge on peaceful protestors opposing the construction of a thermal power project in Sompeta on July 14 killing two persons and injuring scores of others is the third such major incident of police firing in the last four years.

 

During its first tenure under Y S Rajashekar Reddy, in 2006 it unleashed the police in Mudigonda where the people struggling for house sites under the leadership of CPI(M) were brutally fired upon killing seven persons. The next year in July 2007, the police were let loose on peacefully protesting fishermen in Gangavaram village who were opposing the acquisition of their lands for the sake of extension of Vishakapatnam Port. And now it repeated the same in Sompeta.

 

The barbarity of the state police shocked the entire state and all political parties have strongly condemned the action. Even elderly women were not spared and beaten black and blue by male police. The horrible feature has been the use of private goons under the guise of construction workers by the Nagarjuna Construction Company which is building the 1320 MW power project in Sompeta. These goons interspersed with the police and along with them wielded lathis and beat up the people indiscriminately. The company has been allotted 1890 acres of land by the AP Industrial Infrastructure Company, which has today become basically a real estate broker for private industry, and another 210 acres of land was privately acquired by the company.

 

The people of this coastal region have been consistently opposing the setting up of this project and have been holding dharnas, hunger strikes etc for the last nine months. Concerns about setting up such a huge thermal power project in this wetlands area have brought many well-meaning people into the struggle against the power project. They made their arguments during the public hearing and as recently as a week ago no less than union environment minister Jairam Ramesh assured the protestors that the government would look into their concerns and take a decision after his visit to Sompeta.

 

But the people of Sompeta had to face the betrayal of the Congress government. Throwing the assurance of the union minister to the wind, the company that has still not got clearance from the AP Pollution Control Board decided to lay the foundation stone for the project today and also undertake fencing work around the land of the project. This was their fifth attempt as the earlier four attempts were foiled due to the resistance of the locals. And the state government instead of advising against such blatant provocation by the company, decided to marshal the police forces in support of the company's latest effort. It put 2000 police personnel at the disposal of the company. In fact the district collector and SP held a press conference a day before in Sompeta warning against any opposition to the beginning of the works by the company. The company too made its own arrangements by arming its private goondas with lathis.

 

When the people came in large numbers questioning how the company can start work even as so many issues were pending and even as they were promised of a review by union environment minister, the police and the goondas brutally attacked them. The protesters, including women were beaten and chased in the fields even as tear gas shells were being fired. TV channel reporters were also  attacked and their cameras smashed in order to prevent the recording of this barbarity. However, footage of one channel clearly showed how the police were bent on killing the protestors. One policeman was heard egging the others to shoot to kill.

 

The police forces, it has been reported, have gone on the rampage later in many areas of Sompeta, beating up people indiscriminately. They also attacked a hospital whose owner-doctor has been prominently participating in the environmental opposition of the project and where the injured in the police action were being treated. Outraged by these attacks people gathered in front of the police station and tried to attack it. They burnt some police vehicles. The situation in Sompeta was tense at the time of filing this report. Leaders of opposition parties are set to reach the place on Thursday. Meanwhile, the assembly was stalled with the news of the firing. Opposition members demanded discussion on the subject which the government refused. The state home minister defended the action of the police saying they were forced to resort to firing because of the violence of the mob.

 

CPI(M) CONDEMNS

THE FIRING

 

The state committee of the CPI(M) has strongly condemned the police firing and lathicharge in Sompeta on peacefully protesting fishermen. Terming it as the most atrocious action by the police, Party state secretary B V Raghavulu has demanded high level inquiry and action against the concerned officers.

 

He condemned the attitude of the government which was seeking to crush the people's struggles using repression. The CPI(M) leader also demanded immediate stoppage of all works related to the project and  withdrawal of police forces from the region. Condoling the reported death of three persons, he demanded the government to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to the kin of those killed.

(NSA)