(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 03, 2011
From Our Special
Correspondent in Kolkata
Pandaveswar MLA Gouranga Chatterjee and 16 others were injured on June 21 when police, CISF and RAF personnel resorted to lathicharge to disperse villagers protesting against the forcible acquisition of land to expand a coal mine. The incident took place at Hansdiha village in Pandaveswar, near Raniganj.
project against which the villagers are
protesting is a Rs 250-crore coal excavation project under the Sonepur
Open Cast Mine of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL). A private
the past few days, the villagers had been
preventing the private contractor and ECL from starting work on the
June 21, villagers heard that bulldozers have started operation in
a few hundreds of people started a protest rally. They were joined by
leaders and coal workers from the local area. The procession was
the villagers reached near Shonpur Bazar, police officers, along with
RAF, started lathicharge. Gouranga Chatterjee, local MLA and a front
leader of coal workers was particularly targeted. He was beaten
even after he fell on the ground, he was thrashed. Chatterjee sustained
injury and was later admitted in a hospital in
On June 22, at the call of the CPI(M), a total and spontaneous bandh was observed in Raniganj, Pandebeswar and Jamuria protesting the police atrocity. Even the coal mines came to a standstill though there was no formal call. A delegation of CPI(M), including Polit Bureau member Nirupam Sen, the leader of the opposition in assembly Suryakanta Misra, Madan Ghosh, Amal Halder visited the affected areas and talked with the people. The villagers alleged that ECL has not even waited for a scheduled discussion and went on rampaging their houses.
The villagers also reminded of Mamata Banerjee's announcement that no land would be acquired forcefully from villagers. "But in reality, it is her police who have beaten up villagers for protesting land acquisition," they alleged.
All India Coal Workers’ Federation of India (ACWFI) condemned the police atrocities, expressed its anguish and indignation against the state policy on labour, so reversed under the current regime from the policy followed by the LF government on the matter of state’s role in disputes between labour and the employers. In a statement, ACWFI said, incidentally, the lathicharge on labour has been first of the kind after Left Front government had been installed in June 1977.