Sunday, March 11, 2007

Indomitable Struggle is on at Singur & Nandigram...

. **The repressive state and vulgar politics continues to be challenged.

*Singur has not given up. Nor has Tata started its work. A wall that is beingbuilt & is already upto 2 to 3 kms in length and 10 feet in height does not seemto be of Tatas. The Tata officials and employees don't seem to be present.People in whose name this well known conflict has been raised are not aware ofeither who is building the wall or where are Tata's men. The only outsider forcethat is in and around is still of policemen and women.Hundreds of the police, may be tired of being on the land in the open but theyare not timid. They may not have section 144 to support but the State is withthem.
Even without CPM cadres now entering Singur to harass and pressurize thefarmers, bargadars and labourers there, the State's presence is felt and facedby those whose land is being encroached upon, who are brutally beaten, who aretrying to be lured and scared to give away their land.Singur, unlike the impressions outside, is still fighting with strength andspirit. Thousands of bargadars, labourers and also landholders are not for theforcible occupation of land although fencing of 997 acres of the land, protectedby the sheer police force ie., the State's might stands. People too were on thesit-in, in front of the fence on the land not to be acquired.
One does find TMC& SUCI representatives there, the Trimanool Congress MLA, Rabindranath, MasterMoshai, with other people, student activists supporting them by staying with andbeing with the village folk, but the whole community is in the struggle, exceptof course those who have allowed their land to be taken over and acceptedcheques not all of which, we are told, are still fully encashed.When we reached Singur and walked through Beraberi, everything was the same-women, young and old, coming out of their houses, leaving their chores andchanting slogans, welcoming us; at least are at every few furlongs blowing theshell. However, the moment we decided to move towards the fence only to have alook at the fields under siege, hundreds of police encircled us, as if we wereto uproot the fence. When they began walking with us it was all right, till theystarted touching and slightly pushing some of us.
The women got upset with thesame and started questioning the police who hadencroached upon the land not under acquisition plan. No one had any weapon inthe hands except the voice that all of them raised. The police however were bentupon creating a law and order problem and pretending to protect us, the outsidevisitors, they actually started manhandling the local leaders when we were onefoot away from the fence and repeatedly saying that we would not uproot it butwe did have the right to touch it. With in a few minutes, when I had three yearsold child in my hand, I saw the police beating Mamatha Bag and they also beganlathi charging others including Prasanth Sinha and Suprathik Das. With inminutes after our raising voice asking them to leave, they withdrew leavingbehind seven wounded persons and us to fight the sheer illegality and brutalityof the State machinery. Women not belonging to partisan politics kept onchallenging the police officials including Kalyan Mukherjee, the ill reputedSDPO, Mr. Sirkar, Mr. Sandeep Bannerjee, Mr. Asit Pal (the names I remember maybe with slight mistake) and it was a scene of the peasantry taking thesupporters of capitalism byhorns.We did go to the nearest police station with comrades from APDR (Mr. Amit DutyKumar), NAPM (Pranab Bannerjee, Debjeet and others) as well as Chhatra Sanhatiand the wounded villagers lodged FIRs.This is not the end of the matter. Tata's as well as CPM is bent upon continuingwith and forcibly pushing Tata-Fiat project. Tata's are being awarded whileMr. Prody, the PM of Italy was conferred a Doctorate by the Calcutta University.How powerful is going Krishi Raksha Samiti to be in fighting these giants is toyet to be seen.
Much depends on us, those who are for a secular yet popular "andhumane agenda and Development perspective" Do whatever you can to spread themessage of Singur, the truth that is suppressed with the campaign of falsehood,write to the Italians--parliamentarians, power holders, activists, as well ascommon people fighting corporatisation themselves--and also with priority,questioning the Left Front.Will CPI and RSP, Forward Bloc take further courage and stand by people., askthem, please.And all of this before the movement gets crushed....*In Singur, People continue to face repression** ***Nandigram is still burning with anger and anguish both. The battle is far fromover. As the women told us, they are awake every night protecting the land andhabitats with a threat of armed cadres and policemen entering the region toattack and grab the land. It was an intense people's response toevery meeting of ours organized by Krishi Bhumi Uchched Virodhi Samiti. Witheach meeting covering about 10 small and large villages, had a gathering of 2000- 5000 people attending, with women as majority. We could thus cover 20,000 ormore people and address them. We, the representatives of National Alliance ofPeople's Movements with our allies including Jan Sangharsh Samiti, Pashcim BangKhet Mazdoor Samiti and others, moved on the motor bikes in the area which hasbecome a battle field and is cut-off from the rest of the state and country dueto the trenches dug all over and smallbridges broken with temporary rafts for the residents and the admitted guests tocross.Whatever the people of chemical hub- SEZ affected area have gone through duringlast few days and months was evident from the articulated presentation by thelocal leaders such as Nand Patra of SUCI, Abdus Samad of Jamiyat Ulema Hind, andwomen too, all united under the banner of Bhavni Uched Virodhi Samiti.
They havebeen on the watch, day and night since during last one month too, there havebeen at-least two serious attacks when a few hundred CPM cadres entered thearea, with the help of police and tried to threaten and even harass and move thepeople. When they looked as if they were scared, there came a prompt reply to myquestion: we are not, we will not be tired or timid either we can't afford tobe. The attacking men have been the Communist Party of India cadres, no doubtand recently when crisis erupts, the violence by the villagers is not justreported to the press but cases are filed against the to-be affected, strugglingpeople. The wounded youths showed us a cut finger, a fractured hand while theiraged parents wept. The latest among the fake allegation was of raping a woman,which is totally denied by the movement, which has large participation of women.When we decided to visit Nandigram, it was to assess the latest situation, theState repression, if any and the people's response. Since the area was cut-offfrom the rest of the region, we were bound to proceed only with the aid ofactivists-representatives who could take us on the bikes but notwelcome or even allow others.On the way to Nandigram in Midnapore, Tamluk and a few other small towns, wewere welcome and felicitated by a number of local and state level organizationsincluding trader's organization, teacher's, women's, freedom fighter'sorganization & SUCI with its various fronts.When we reached closer to Nandigram, followed and escorted by atleast 4 policevehicles, it was at Hanfchara where there were red flags and cadre members ofCPI (M) protesting against our visiting Nandigram.
They were less than hundredbut shouting with all strength and fervour, challenging ourposition against SEZ & Industrialisation at the cost of farmers and farmland. Wesensed their attacking mood and did not get down the jeeps we were in, butagainst the police advice, I did peep out trying with folded hands, expressingwillingness to have a dialogue but in response, they didn't attack me but brokethe side mirror of our jeep and hit the driver of another jeep, also slightlyhurting Anuradha Talwar who was inside that jeep. The police escorted us,clearing the way and it seemed the partyagitators too were not determined to stop us for ever. We faced the same at onemore point and could reach Nandigram.With photographers & supporters, atleast 15 motorcycles led us to the firstmeeting place, crossing the breached bridges, dug-pits and trenches whereatleast 1000 people had gathered. A majority of them women, the crowd appearedoverwhelmed to receive us and all including the leaders were been to hear thenews from outside.
Hindu-Muslim unity and beyond, the solidarity was expressedthrough their gestures, welcoming slogans and our speeches. At every meetingpoint, where we reached on bikes, people had gathered walking down longdistances and yet women had overcrowded, bringing children along. Not all womanspoke from the dais-like table and mike wherever it was arranged but theirpresence, communication with us, before and after the meeting, anxious looks andpatient hearing, slogan raising, ending gesture conveyed their keen interest aswell as commitment. I remembered our first meeting in Nandigram on December 7thwhen only a handful of women had gathered in a corner and I had to comment onthe same while the picture has changed much today.Discussing some strategic issues, gathering information on varied events andoccurrences during last one month or so. We addressed a last Bhumi UcchedPratirodh Committee meeting where party politics were kept out to the extentpossible.When we were about to move, we were informed, warned of the likely and moreintense demonstrations by CPM but we expressed our confidence and asked theleaders not to worry.Amidst a number of police vehicles full of intelligence to action force, wereached a village(Fullimore) called apparently called CPM stronghold and foundabout 125 CPM workers with flags fluttering on the top, standing with theirbacks towards us & sharing us the buttocks as appealed by Biman Bose.
Theirvulgar postures meant showing buttocks to us and spitting at us too. It appearedthat women didn't take to this action, probably because they were hesitant totake to such disgraceful form of protest. Our jeeps passed by with full policeprotection leaving the small number of protestors as well as large masses facingand struggling against violence of every kind.What conclusion can one draw from the above incidences? First, the Left front isstill stubborn and not for any dialogue (Refer my two letters to Left Frontleaders - remain unanswered.) *Second, *the people position whether in Singur orin Nadigram is the same. While the West Bengal government is trying to show itis for democratic decision in Nandigram, thousands of women and men havenarrated to us stories of continued attacks from CPM cadres, till as late aslast week. There is no doubt that people ofNandigram are also creating barriers and reverting the attackers.
The news thatbomb in preparation got burst and few of CPM cadres died is not denied by thegovernment, and confirms the people's allegation of weaponization of theopponents. In Singur TMC, SUCI and other party / organizations continue to haveprograms under the banner of KMRC as also separately.The question is not what is happening in Singur and Nandigram or other places inBengal where this struggle is spread at, but what are the progressive peopleacross the country doing? Inspite of a few teams of activists, academicians,historians, advocates etc., having visited the places of struggle as factfinders, the reports and continued stories by the regional language media inWest Bengal (if not the national media), the Left Front office bearers to theCabinet has not felt the need to respond to people's demands. The somewhatdifferent position taken by CPI, RSP, and forward bloc has not been able tocompel the state government withdraw its onslaught on the people. No doubt SEZby Salim Industries, Mitsubishi (Japan) and other global corporates is kept onhold for the time being but the violent threat and intimidation as also falseaccusations to harassment through legal actions and unwarranted, undemocraticattitude and insulting actions in arrogance against the supporters continue.When thousands of intellectuals, including advocates and academicians have takena stance and boldly supported the people's struggles; raised a serious publicdebated through art and articles, it is indeed shameful that the Left front doesnot heed to the voice of the villagers--proletariat-- and the civil society.When there is a civil war on, and when the fate of Singur and Nandigram is tosurely influence the course of future decision on SEZ and people's rights tonatural resources, *WE CANNOT KEEP QUIET.
*Let us write to Sonia Gandhi, Pranab Mukerjee, the PM and our once own ChiefMinister.Do it at the earliest, please, asking them to intervene and stop the atrocities,withdraw TATA-FIAT project in Singur and the Chemical Hub in Nandigram.*BE WITH US. **Medha Patkar*

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