People's Democracy

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


No. 29

July 17, 2011


Counter Land Reforms Begun


HAROA of North 24-Parganas in West Bengal has witnessed the reversal of land reforms done by the Left Front government. Trinamool Congress’ stance to protect the class interests of the land owners has also become evident. The mask of love for the peasants, which the TMC used to carry before the assembly election, has fallen off.


In Haroa, the landlords with the help of TMC land-grabbers are trying to drive away poor farmers from their land and prevent them from cultivation by resorting to organised attacks. The police and the administration are offering full support to the attackers. A wide area of this region is virtually under siege after assembly elections. In the first week of July, a massive eviction drive took place in which near about 7000 bighas (one bigha is nearly one-third of an acre)  of land have been snatched away from more than 10,000 peasants, most of who belonged to the group of bargadars or sharecroppers and patta-holders (vested land given to landless). Not only have the TMC goons snatched land from the poor peasants, their crops have also been destroyed. The invaders have placed several flags of TMC in the occupied land and have set fire to the makeshift shelters of peasants, locally known as ‘ala ghar.’ Even the tribal families were not spared. 640 CPI(M) workers and supporters had to migrate from only in South Haroa. Severe terror has been initiated in Haroa by the TMC hoodlums.


A delegation, led by the leader of the opposition in the West Bengal assembly, Dr  Surya Kanta Mishra, had visited Haroa on July 8 to stand beside the peasants under attack. The Left Front leadership also addressed a meeting organised by the evicted poor peasants, bargadars and pattadars.  Dr Mishra unequivocally said in the meeting that those evicted should be allowed to return to their fields and that the police would have to ensure that their right to till their rightful lands was safeguarded. He further said that the Red flag has ensured right of land in the state of West Bengal and the same Red flag will show direction in the struggle of protecting that earned right.


On July 9, when evicted peasants assembled at a place called Gazitala in Haroa to re-establish their right to cultivate in their own land, to resist their forcible eviction, the TMC land-grabbers who were armed with deadly weapons attacked them from different directions. Even the police opened fire on the assemblage of those poor cultivators without any provocation. Four persons, all tribals, were injured in this joint attack of TMC and police. Twelve rounds of firing by the police marked the barbaric act of terrorism and Saharab Sardar, Dipak Bera, Kanai Sardar and Mantu Sardar received serious bullet injuries. Assisted by TMC hoodlums, the police cordoned off a wide area at Haroa and did not allow even injured persons to be shifted to hospital for treatment.


Condemning the incident, Left Front chairman Biman Bose charged the state government of patronising the attempts to rob farmers of the rights they had earned during the Left Front tenure. A joint committee of krishak sabhas (farmers’ organisations) of four Left parties has given a call to their units across the West Bengal to observe “Haroa Dibas” on July 14.


While in Haroa in North 24-Parganas alone recorded an eviction figure of more than 10,000 persons, in West Midnapore and Birbhum the number of sharecroppers and patta-holders evicted is more than 3000 in each district. The reports of eviction are also coming from Bankura and Hooghly. In Burdwan, already 1199 bighas of ‘khas’(issued against patta) land has been snatched by the TMC goons and  the number of affected peasants is 2219. In many places the TMC activists have been engaged by the jotedars and zamindars whose lands are cultivated by the bargadars. Bargadars or sharecroppers were given hereditary right to cultivate land of landlords by the Left Front government. The Left Front government also distributed its own land (patta or khas land). Now, with Trinamool Congress coming to power, its cadres have resorted to land-grabbing in an organised manner.