People's Democracy

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


No. 32

August 07, 2011


Peasants of Kamarkati Fight

And Regain Their Land


From Our Special

Correspondent in Kolkata


PEASANTS in West Bengal have intensified their resistance against land grabbing. Thousands of acres of land have been forcefully grabbed and peasants evicted by older landowning classes with direct connivance of Trinamool Congress. In many places, police actively helped the armed land grabbers. As this was a complete new experience for the peasantry after three decades of unquestioned land rights, initially they were forced to step back.  But the situation has began to turn now, and more and more villages have witnessed resistance and strong fight back by the evicted peasants.


The latest event has taken place in Kamarkati in Burdwan district. The old landlord family, suddenly reactivated by change of guard in Writers’ Building, demanded that their land would have to be returned back. Eighteen acres of land were distributed among the peasants during the early period of Left Front government. It was not merely a verbal threat. The paddy seeds were destroyed by tractor in one night. The peasants, shocked and traumatised, sought the help of police. The local police officers replied that the regime has changed and now the landlord would be landlord again. There was frustration among 435 families who had legal rights over these lands. They felt that they have lost everything. It is rainy season now in West Bengal and the best period of sowing. It was the worst of nightmares.


But, the situation changed within few days. The villagers, even those who have voted for Trinamool Congress, realised the nature of catastrophe and decided to fight back. Once again they mobilised with Red flags on their shoulders and recaptured a section of the land grabbed by the landlord. Immediately, the peasants started sowing again. The peasants were in good numbers and that forced the landlords to stay back. Later, Trinamool Congress leaders came and threatened the peasants with dire consequences. The peasants defied the threats and hundreds more gathered to fetch the rest of the lands. On August 1, the poor peasants of Kamarkati won back the whole land. They were joined by youths from agricultural workers’ families. The women played a leading role in this courageous assertion of democratic rights. The collective force of the peasants proved mightier than the armed gangs of the landlords.


Kamarkati is an example. In last two months, 1200 bighas of land were forcefully grabbed from 2200 peasants. The peasants have won back more than 700 bighas through spirited struggle. The anti-land grabbing resistance has spread in Mateswar, Memari, Galsi, Bhatar, Mangalkot, Ketugram and other areas of Burdwan district. One of the fiercest attacks that have come with the new government in the state was on the gains of land reforms. It is not merely individual or sporadic incidents, but a systematic attack on land rights of the poor, marginal peasantry and share croppers. The peasants are now fighting back this assault with determination.