People's Democracy

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


No. 28

July 10, 2011




Organised Attack on

Land Reforms in Bengal


From our Special

Correspondent in Kolkata


THE ‘change’ is now showing its true colour in West Bengal. Not only are the Left activists being murdered and attacked in different parts of the state almost daily, the most precious achievement of the rural people in the last three decades is under tremendous attack.  Thousands of peasants, who benefited through land reforms programme during the Left Front period, are being forcefully evicted from their land. In most cases, the former landlords have come in the forefront to regain control of their ‘lost’ land. Trinamool Congress gangs have taken charge of evicting and chasing away poor peasants with active connivance of police. Even sharecroppers and agricultural workers have become victims of this repression.


The most vicious attack took place in Haroa, in North 24 Parganas district. This area was under seige after assembly elections. In the first week of July, a massive eviction drive has taken place in which 7063 bighas (one bigha is nearly one-third of an acre) of land have been snatched away from the nearly 10,000 peasants. Most of these lands belonged to legal patta holders and peasants who were cultivating with due permission from administration. Trinamool gangs attacked one after another villages and forced the peasants to stop work in fields. They have posted Trinamool flags, destroyed cultivation and burnt makeshift shelters of peasants, locally known as ‘ala’. In Tentulia mouza, 1263 bighas have been forcibly taken over; in Batagachi 800 bighas, in Munshir Gheri 1200 bighas, in Nebutala 2800 bighas were snatched. In Munshir Gheri, 150 tribal families were given homestead lands during the Left Front period. Homes of 10 such families were destroyed. In Tentulia, 508 bighas of vested land were distributed in land reforms among 1205 peasants during the Left Front period. Another 755 bighas were under court cases and therefore no formal land holding pattas were issued to peasants. However, 2000 peasants were cultivating that land and even the Supreme Court ordered maintaining of that status quo. Now, Trinamool gangs attacked the peasants with the help of police and evicted all three thousand peasants from their legally held lands. Haroa was once a stronghold of the feudal landed gentry who were ousted by strong peasant movement and land reforms were implemented thoroughly by the Left Front government. With the new government in place, these forces are back in action. To accomplish the eviction process, so-called ‘arms search’ is taking place in Left activists’ houses. To pre-empt any resistance hundreds of CPI(M) and Kisan Sabha activists have been chased away from villages. In south Haroa, already 640 CPI(M) workers have been forced to flee from villages. The evicted people are small and marginal peasants.


In Birbhum, hundreds of peasants have been ousted from their legally held lands in Nanur, Dubrajpur, Ilambazar. At least 1400 peasants in this district have been forced to surrender their right to till under terror.  The story is same here. The members of erstwhile zamindar families are leading the assault with help from Trinamool gangs.


In Bankura, 9 acres of land were snatched away from peasants in Kotulpur. Almost 50 families, who held legal rights for last 30 years,  have been evicted. They were threatened not to go near their land. In Indpur of same districts, peasants were forced to stop work. Almost all the peasants are from scheduled caste families.


In East Midnapore, eviction drive is taking place in Kanthi, Nandigram, Khejuri, Bhaganpur, Patashpur, Egra. In 75 mouzas of district, there are specific instances of eviction of legal pattadars. In Hooghly, eviction has taken place in Purshura, Khanakul, Dhaniakhali. In many cases, cultivated produces were looted.


The government led by Mamata Banerjee has shown extraordinary speed in enacting new law for Singur. At the same time, a process of undoing the land reforms in the state has gained momentum. The real nature of those who have posed as ‘saviour of peasants’ is now being exposed in rural Bengal.


Left Kisan organisations have decided to move jointly against these attacks on peasantry.