People's Democracy

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


No. 31

July 31, 2011




Peasants Resist Land Grabbing & Eviction


From Our Special

Correspondent in Kolkata


THE peasants of West Bengal have started to fight back. After the assembly elections in the state, massive attacks began to take place to evict peasants from their lands. The peasants who had benefitted by the land reforms programmes of the Left Front government, sharecroppers who were given legal rights, even the ryots have been driven out from their lands in large part of the state. It was particularly evident in South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, West Midnapore, Burdwan, Birbhum and Hooghly districts. The modus operandi was more or less common. In most cases, the erstwhile landed gentry took the change in government as an opportunity and tried to grab the land. Trinamool Congress and in some areas Congress activists moved in and forcibly took over land and posted their flags. They have even threatened the villagers not to move in the lands they were given by the earlier government. In many cases, the police acted as cohorts to armed gangs of TMC. Police even fired on the peasants in Haroa in North 24 Parganas. Hundreads of acres of land were thus captured by those who did not have any legal rights over them.


Initial fear of such atrocity is now withering away. Peasants have begun to resist, writing another new chapter in the history of glorious peasant movement in the state.


The first such resistance was seen at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas. Almost 400 bighas of land were vested and distributed among peasants during the Left Front period. Sharecroppers were also given rights in due process. The peasants were cultivating the lands for more than three decades without any disturbances. Around a fortnight back, TMC gangs posted their flags in the lands and forced the peasants to stop working. The peasants, including 35 tribal families, lodged a FIR in local police station but no action was taken. On July 23, peasants were mobilised and they recaptured their lands. AIKS and CPI(M) activists joined in the struggle. Women led the procession which went in the lands and they started working. The next day, the peasants used tractors and nobody dared to stop them anymore. CPI(M) leader and local MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah was present in the procession.


The next resistance was in Galsi, in Burdwan district. Many acres of  land in Paraj, Jotekolko, Bholagora, Pulsa and some other villages were forcibly captured by erstwhile landlords with active support from TMC. Peasants were evicted. In many cases, lands of those who even voted for TMC were snatched away from them. A new wave of rethinking swayed through Galsi for the last few days. Finally, on July 25 and 26, hundreds of peasants marched in to restore their legal rights. With Red flags on their shoulders, peasants moved from one village to another and started cultivation. It was a rare sight of peasant mobilisation. Those who did not lose their lands joined in huge numbers to help their fellow villagers to restore lands. Galsi, one of the best agricultural zones in the whole state, reverberated with slogans: “Defend the rights of poor peasants”.


Almost 230 bighas were forcibly captured in Bhatar, in Burdwan district. In Ambona, TMC armed gangs even declared that all land reforms now stood invalid. More than 200 peasant families were evicted in Bhatar where all kinds of terror  was unleashed. There was a gloom in the villages for some days. But the scene changed on July 25 and 26. The peasants decided to fight back and they were joined by AIKS. With Red flags, hundreds of villagers came out of their homes and ‘liberated’ their lands from the henchmen of landlords. The courage shown by the poor and marginal peasants forced the TMC gangs to stay away. The peasants started sowing once again in Ambona, Bhumsor and other villages. Tractors were used as hundreds of others stood guard.


Both in Galsi and Bhatar, senior villagers recounted how they fought against the landlords decades ago and how the Left Front government distributed lands among them. The villagers alleged that the real face of TMC stands exposed now.