News updates and reports on the ongoing resistance of evicted people at Nonadanga

June 26, 2012

Also check the other page on petitions and statements on events following the April 8 arrests related to the Nonadanga agitation.

Click here to read about earlier news updates

Chronological table of contents :

26 June 2012 : APDR Statement on the Nonadanga case
23 June 2012 : Sanhati statement on the recent events
21 June 2012 : Statement from activists and intellectuals against lathicharge and arrests
21 June 2012 : Police attack and arrest demonstrators during Jun 21 dharna – Evolving updates.
17 June 2012 : Update from Uchched Pratirodh Committee
15 June 2012 : Statement on the attack on Nonadanga inhabitants by TMC goons
14 June 2012 : Update on the continuing struggle at Nonadanga – Partho Sarathi Ray
25 May 2012 : A report on the march to Writers Building – Nilanjan Dutta
28 April 2012 : A report on the arrests during the police attack at Nonadanga – Nilanjan Dutta
28 April 2012 : Government attacks Nonadanga again – Partho Sarathi Ray
22 April 2012 : Changing face of ‘paribartan’ : movement in Nonadanga – Dwaipayan
18 April 2012 : A Report on the Mass Convention of April 18 and Ongoing Struggle at Nonadanga – Sudipto Muhuri
18 April 2012 : Photos from the mass convention – P. Rudra
17 April 2012 : Daily developments and videos of the resistance
17 April 2012 : Aila refugees of the Sunderbans have taken shelter in the new shanties of Nonadanga – Sriman Chakraborty
16 April 2012 : Press statement from All India Co-ordination of Slum Dwellers and Homeless People
16 April 2012 : Pamphlet issued by Uchhed Pratirodh Committee; posters
15 April 2012 : Photos from the Hunger-strike and demolition at Nonadanga, Kolkata – P. Rudra
11 April 2012 : Background and demands from Bapi Mandal, veteran social activist and resident of Nonadanga.

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APDR Statement on the Nonadanga case

25 June 2012

The police remand of the 33 activists of the Nonadanga anti-eviction movement who had been arrested on 20 June 2012 has been extended today till 30 June.

The previous day, the state lawyers had stated as grounds of their demand for police custody that the arrested persons were preparing for an armed rebellion at Nonadanga and that arms and ammunitions had to be recovered. Today they made a new argument: police custody was necessary to determine how many of the arrested persons had actually been residents of Nonadanga.

Activists arrested in connection with the Nonadanga movement earlier had also been accused of possessing arms. That allegation could not be proved. As it could not be sustained this time, too, a new argument was forwarded. If one has to accept it, participating in people’s movement or political activities at a place without being a local resident must have become a crime under Indian law.

This is only a ploy by the government to mislead the court and reveals its vengeful attitude.

We demand that the government should shun this approach without delay, withdraw the false cases registered against the activists and begin a dialogue with them.

Debaprasad Roy Chowdhury
General Secretary, APDR

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Statement from activists and intellectuals

Last evening police made a barbaric lathi charge at Kolkata’s Esplanade on a sit-in demonstration against evictions at Nonadanga. The assault was unprovoked. Even the police did not allege at any point that the demonstration had turned violent.

Thirty-three people have been arrested from the spot. All of them were remanded in police custody till 25 June. A documentary filmmaker was also arrested and his camera seized. Several persons were injured in police beatings. At least two of them are in a serious condition.

We condemn this attack on democratic rights and blatant violation of constitutional and legal norms. We appeal to the government to abandon the policy of repression and sit with the anti-eviction activists as soon as possible to find out a peaceful and honourable solution.

Mahasveta Devi, Asoke Mitra, Kabir Suman, Gautam Bhadra, Sujato Bhadra, Kaushik Sen, Tarun Sanyal, Sunanda Sanyal,Dipanjan Roy Chowdhury, Subhendu Dasgupta, Sabyasachi Deb, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Raghav Bandyopadhyay, Srijan Sen, Satarupa Sanyal, Meher Engineer, Subhasis Mukhopadhyay, Soumya Guha Thakurta, Sumitra Purakayastha, Manas Joardar, Ratan Khasnabis, Amit Bhattacharya, Salil Biswas, Rabin Chakraborty, Sumit Chowdhury, Premangsu Dasgupta, Nisha Biswas, Krishna Bandyopadhyay, Miratun Nahar, Naba Datta, Kumar Rana, Gautam Sen, Partha Sarathi Ray, Punyabrata Gun, Muktesh Ghosh, Ashok Chattopadhyay, Pranab De, Bipul Chakraborty, Dilip Chakraborty, Abhijit Sengupta, Sachidananda Bandyopadhyay, Dipankar Chakraborty, Tapas Chakraborty, Amitadyuti Kumar, Debaprasad Roy Chowdhury.

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Update June 21 : All the arrested persons have been remanded to police custody till June 25.

Update June 20 : Police attack and arrest demonstrators during dharna

A Report by Nilanjan Dutta

The day before, police said they would not permit any rally at Esplanade by the evicted people from Nonadanga.

On the morning of 20 June, they did not object when the rally was held and allowed the 200-odd participants to occupy the ‘Y Channel’, which is actually a narrow strip of land beside a huge garbage vat between the main tram and bus stations at Esplanade. Of late, this highly inconvenient and acutely stinking spot seems to have been earmarked to accommodate all the ‘non-mainstream’ demonstrators who are no better than garbage in the eyes of the administration.

As the public meeting went on, at one stage the police brought an offer from the Writers’ Buildings that the minister in charge would meet the committee delegation on 26 June. The assembly discussed the matter instantly and agreed to disperse on the basis of this assurance, if the authorities agreed to clear the outlets of the settlement field at Nonadanga that had been blocked by raising a boundary wall. This was causing tremendous inconvenience for the residents.

The police messengers went to convey this to the minister but came back with the message that he had now said he would meet the delegates on 3 July instead of 26 June.

The protesters became restive and demanded an early appointment.

Again, a vague assurance came that the appointment would be advanced, without specifying any date.

The people decided they would not leave until the government made a commitment on the date of the talks. There was no further communication from the latter, but not a rejection of the demand either.

Late in the evening, police officers even came and inquired with the activists whether they planned to stay at the spot for the night and paternalistically talked about the necessity of arranging “protection” as there were so many women among them.

And Suddenly There Was The Lathi Charge.

The wounded were initially herded into the central lock-up at the Kolkata Police headquarters along with the others. They were taken to the Calcutta Medical College Hospital only after their co-prisoners raised a hue and cry inside the lock-up particularly after seeing Sanjay Mandal, a committee member from Nonadanga, writhing in pain before them and from the outside, APDR members began to intervene and express concern to high-ranking police officials calling for urgent medical attention.

The officers though still denied that there was any lathi charge at all!

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Further reporting by Partho Sarathi Ray

The police had dispersed all the women and children by the lathicharge and specifically targeted men for arrest this time. 35 people were arrested, with around 15 people suffering injuries. The police chased the people down roads and beat them up. The injuries of two people, Sanjay Mandal and Subrata Sapui being serious, they were sent to medical college. At around 9 pm the dispersed women and children started to collect together again. Some of us went to Lalbazar, and from there to the Hare Street police station. There we had a long debate with the OC, who said that he was saying with confidence and all integrity that no lathicharge had taken place! Thereafter he said that all the detained people would be granted bail, but we should first go to medical college and see the conditions of the two injured. Thereafter we went to medical college where already some people were gathered. We went to the emergency section and checked out the condition of the injured. Subrata Sapui is okay, but Sanjay Mandal was nearly unconscious from the trauma. He informed that he had been kicked in his groin. However, he did not have life threatening injuries. Then started another drama, which was reminiscent of the duplicitous behaviour of the police during our arrest on April 8. They said that we should first get the bail of these two people done, and only thereafter they would bail the 32 people in the Lalbazar lockup. We clearly understood their intention: they wanted to get these two injury cases out of their hands so that they would not need to produce them in court, but had no plans of releasing the other. We started reasoning with the police, trying to explain to them the irrationality of their proposal. But they stuck on to it, and therefore after haggling till 2 AM, we decided not get the bail for these two people. Thereafter, some of us went to meet the doctor on duty to complain about the treatment meted out to these two people (they had been lying on tables in the emergency section from 9.30 pm) and requested them to get these people admitted. While we were arguing with the medical officer, the police surreptitiously took these two people out in an ambulance and took them away. The entire episode is a hallmark of the duplicitous and deceptive behaviour of the police and administration. The arrested people should be produced in the Bankshall court on June 21.

Earlier report –

Since 11am, residents of Nonadanga started a roadside demonstration/dharna in the Esplanade area. It is being reported that the police carried out a massive lathicharge on the dharna and several persons had to be admitted to Medical College for treatment. While negotiations were going on about when the concerned minister can give an appointment to hear about the grievances, police started picking up certain selected activists at around 8pm and then lathicharged to disperse the rest. Around 40 persons have been arrested including Amitabha Bhattacharya (the chairman of the Uchched Pratirodh Committee) and Samik Chakraborty (who is also an activist of Sanhati).

More details soon.

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Update from Uchched Pratirodh Committee

Reported by Parag

After a brief period of relative lull, the struggle of the people of Nonadanga region in Kolkata has entered a new phase. While the collusion of the corporate entities for whom land is sought to be acquired with the ruling dispensation and its machineries, the metropolitan development authority, the police, judiciary has become clearer as the struggle intensified, there is now a new strategy in the direction of repression, as new terms for getting rehabilitation: “You have to become Trinamool Congress cadres, and detach yourselves from the ‘outsiders’ who have supported the movement till now, denouncing it as a mistake”. This is what Firhad Hakim, the Municipal and Development Minister of West Bengal, put as a condition before the slum-dwellers when he came to Nonadanga on 14th June, at around 7:30 pm. Addressing the residents, he gave the condition that if the slum dwellers agree to give a public statement that have mistakenly ‘allied with the outsiders’, only then will rehabilitation be given. For the rehabilitation, he said that primarily a 10ft-10ft room (temporary shelter) near Nonadanga will be given, and did not mention anything specific towards any permanent rehabilitation under B.S.U.P. project. When he was pressed by the slum dwellers to either give a written assurance or a public statement to the effect in front of press laying out his promise and conditions, because earlier they have been deceived by false promises of various ministers and political leaders, he refused to give any such written and public statement.

Later in the same day, when four representatives of the slum-dwellers of Nonadanga went to meet the local TMC councilor from ward 107, Swarup Ghosh, he repeated the same warning – put down the banner of “Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee” and uphold the banner of “Trinamool Congress”. He elaborated it further- by threatening to kill Amitava Bhattacharya, President, Uchchhed Protirodh Committee (Resistance-to-eviction Committee) and General Secretary, Mazdoor Kranti Parishad. That the toiling people of Nonadanga, while fighting for the right to proper housing and living condition, have formed their own autonomous organisation without links to the standard vote-shops of the TMC or the CPI(M), and are carrying forward their struggle uncompromisingly, is not acceptable to the ruling dispensation- to exist in Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal today, you must be lay down any legitimate struggle and affiliate yourself to the ruling Trinamool Congress.

On 15th June 2012, the residents were preparing for a pre-declared demonstration program to be held before the K.M.D.A., at around 10 a.m. under the banner of the local autonomous body, Uchched Pratirodh Committee. Before the beginning of the program, a number of lumpen Trinamool cadres under the leadership of the local councilor, Swarup Ghosh, came to the site and threatened the local people to dismantle the program. But when they realized that all their efforts were going in vain given the resoluteness of the residents, they attacked Sourav, organizer of Uchched Pratirodh Committee. The local residents, particularly the women members of the Committee retaliated and counter attacked the goons in defense and Sourav was rescued. This clearly demonstrated what the local people thought of the so-called ‘outsiders’, the supporters of the movement from the beginning, which the ruling dispensation is adamant to show as mere instigators. Throughout the movement the toiling people have fought hand-in-hand with these supporters undeterred by continuous spate of attacks and intimidations, and have posited their independence from both the TMC and the CPI(M).

During this entire period, the whole police force posted in the field played the role of silent spectators, which again demonstrated for the n-th time, where their loyalties lay. In fact, the police camp just in front of the area, has continued to play a proactive role since the beginning of the demolition and the subsequent struggle as a organ of repression and harassment. Recently, the police has given poison in the nearby pond, where the slum dwellers used to wash utensils and even take bath, and the water has now become completely unusable. Later, even though sent on their backfoot after confrontation with the local people and sent away from the field, the Trinamool goons remained in the local area. Two sympathizers of the movement, Probal and Sriman, while coming to the movement site after the incident in the morning, were attacked and assaulted by the goons. An F.I.R. has been lodged by the Uchched Pratirodh Committee.

Meanwhile, the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority has closed all the entrances of passage to the Nonadanga site, baring one through which only one person can pass at a time. To close one gate, they have dragged in a waste-bin. It is impossible through that one small gate, for the rickshaw-puller or van-puller to bring their vehicle inside the field. Harassment is various forms continue. On 16th June, there was a mass hunger strike of the residents in Nonadanga, where a renewed enthusiasm to take the struggle forward in this difficult phase was seen. A rally to Ruby junction has been called for 17th June. The residents will not take these new repressive measures, hooligan attacks and threats of murder and further dispossession lying down, and are determined to struggle further, and call upon all progressive and democratic sections to stand in solidarity with the movement.

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Statement on the attack on Nonadanga inhabitants by TMC goons

We unequivocally condemn the dastardly attack on the morning of 15 June, 2012, Friday by Trinamool goons on the defenceless inhabitants, including women and children, of Nonadanga.

We also denounce the undemocratic statement made by the Hon’ble Minister Firhad Hakim in Ananda Bazar Patrika (June 15, 2012) which threatens with illegal arrest any democratic expression of protest by the people of Nonadanga.

We urge all democratic minded people of West Bengal to protest against this assault on democratic rights and the right of people to undisturbed living without facing the menace of eviction and hooliganism.

We demand that the government desist from all unlawful eviction and restore to the people their land and houses withdrawing all the false cases pending against them in court.

Signed

Mahasveta Devi, Asoke Mitra, Tarun Sanyal, Sunanda Sanyal, Kabir Suman, Kaushik Sen, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Dipankar Chakrabarti, Sabyasachi Deb,
Sachchidananda Banerjee, Debaprasad RoyChowdhury, Pratul Mukhopadhyay, Bolan Gangopadhyay, Ratan Khasnabish, Raghab Bandyopadhyay,
Suvendu Dasgupta, Naba Datta, Miratun Nahar, Debabrata Panda, Bipul Chakrabarti, Amitdyuti Kumar, Tapas Chakrabarti, Kumar Rana Ranesh Roy,
Pranab De, Chandana Mitra, Premangsu Dasgupta, Ashok Chattopadhyay, Srijan Sen, Dipanjan Rai Chaudhuri, Partho Sarathi Ray, Meher Engineer,
Salil Biswas, Subhasis Mukhopadhyay, Rabin Chakraborty, Sumitro Purkayastha, Soumyabrata Guhathakurta

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Update on the continuing struggle at Nonadanga

Report by Partho Sarathi Ray

June 14, 2012

Recently the police have slapped new charges against eight activists involved with the Nonadanga struggle. This is an ominous addition to the current clamp down on all democratic forms of protest in Kolkata which began with the arrest on 8th April. The details of this incident are as follows:

On 21st May, the 11-party combine (a grouping of 11 radical left parties which have participated actively in the Nonadanga movement) held a rally from the Ruby hospital junction to Nonadanga where a public meeting was held. As usual they had asked for permission from the police, but no written permission was given after they were made to do the usual rounds from the Tiljala police station to Lalbazar to the office of the ACP (South) and back to Tiljala PS. The rally and public meeting was nevertheless held, and was extensively photographed by the police. On 6th June, 8 of the speakers in the public meeting were served notices stating that they were charged for unlawful assembly. The charged people include three people from the Nonadanga area, including Bapi Mandal, Nisha Biswas, who had previously been arrested from Lalgarh by the Left Front government and imprisoned for 45 days, Joyita Das, member of Matangini Mahila Samity and wife of Abhijnan, Indrani Dutta, member of CPI(ML) Liberation womens’ wing and who was detained on 8th April, later released, a member of CPI(ML) Red Flag, and someone called Santash Routh, who people think is Santosh Rana, leader of CPI(ML) PCC, and a veteran Naxalite. Interestingly, there were some people who spoke at the meeting but not charged which include Samik Chakrabarty of MKP, Pradeep Singh Thakur of CPI(ML)-ND and Prafulla Chakrabarty of Kanoria Sramik Sangram Committee. It is clearly a case where the state wants to intimidate vulnerable people such as Joyita and Nisha Biswas and also want to send out a warning to other groups not to get involved in the Nonadanga movement, but done in the usual shoddy manner. Some of these people went to the court on 8th June, but the court was closed because the lawyers have stopped working because of the heat.

On 10th June there was a meeting in Nonadanga of all the organizations and individuals involved in the struggle. Together with discussion on forthcoming programmes, two issues have come up importantly. One is the continuation of the collective kitchen, which has been running from the beginning of the movement. The kitchen had to be shut down for ten days recently as the funds had completely been exhausted. It has restarted a couple of days ago after some money was collected and then CPI(ML) Liberation contributed rice, dal etc. The continuation of the kitchen is important both politically and strategically, and funds are required for it. Secondly, the monsoons are going to come soon. The slumdwellers are living in absolutely flimsy bamboo and tarpaulin structures, which will not survive the rainfall. Secondly, and more dangerously, as the government has built a wall all around the perimeter of the area, there is no way for the rain water to drain out. Therefore, the apprehension is that the entire field will get waterlogged, and people will be forced to leave. The government will take that opportunity to declare that they have freed the land. The activists have discussed contingency plans regarding this situation. Moreover, funds for making the structures more durable, and also to make arrangements for draining the rainwater are required.

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May 24 : A report on the march to Writers Building

by Nilanjan Dutta

The Nonadanga movement claimed a little victory on 24 May when for the first time since the eviction of residence from the colony on 30 March, a high-level government official met a delegation of the Anti-eviction Committee at the Writers’ Buildings. The committee organised a march to the Writers’ from College Square during the day. When the procession reached Esplanade, a public meeting was held. The chief minister’s office had been informed earlier that a delegation would go to the Writers’ and submit a memorandum. But, a huge police contingent encircled them and said the government would not meet their representatives. The marchers announced that until the government changed its mind, they would continue their sit-in at Esplanade. Tension escalated as more police forces were brought in and prisoner vans were lined up threatening a crackdown and mass arrests. However, late in the evening, the government blinked. Representatives of the committee were called to the Writers’ and chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s personal secretary had a discussion with them on their demands. He promised that the government would give them due consideration and let them know its decision soon. This was indeed a climbdown of the part of the government that had been refusing to listen to the evicted residents all along and proved the effectiveness of the resolute struggle.

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April 28 : A report on the arrests during the police attack at Nonadanga

by Nilanjan Dutta

Five women and six male residents of Nonadanga were arrested and charged under a host of sections of the Indian Penal Code, three of which are non-bailable, along with an Act that pertains to the destruction of public property, for protesting inhuman and illegal actions of the authorities on 28 April.

They are: Pratima Baidya, Minati Sardar, Saraswati Dasi, Ranjita Baidya, Pratima Baij, Bapi Mandal, Manindra Mandal, Purna Mandal, Ujjwal Saha, Sona Bar and Rabin Haldar.

They have been charged under sections 147, 148, 149, 186, 323, 325, 332, 333 and 353 of IPC and 3 PDPP Act, in Tiljala PS Case No. 133 dated 28.04.2012.

Earlier, two other women along with an infant who were also dragged into the police van and taken to the central lock-up were brought back to Nonadanga, perhaps because the police wanted to avoid the controversy that arose when they took children from Nonadanga into custody on two earlier occasions. One of them fainted when she was being brought down from the police van. Seeing this, the residents burst out in anger against the police. Late in the night, the duty officer of the Tiljala police station, while stating the charges against the 11 persons who were still in custody, told members of APDR that the two women had also been charged separately under section 151 CrPC.

The 11 arrested persons were brought to the Calcutta Medical College at night for a medical examination. There again, Pratima Baidya fainted and Minati Sardar complained of severe sickness. Suffering hunger and thirst for about eight hours of detention in the sweltering summer had begun to have its effects. Also, before being arrested, they had been beaten and manhandled by the police.

After a few days of lull, the state authorities, who are hell-bent on handing over the land at Nonadanga to commercial interests after cleansing it of the poor settlers, struck with their full might. Not content with erecting a fence around the whole plot, now they tried to seal even the two small openings that had been the only ways for the residents to keep physical touch with the outside world. By putting up a heroic resistance to this effort, Nonadanga today saved Kolkata from the shame of allowing a fascistic town architecture to come up within the city — call it by any name, strategic hamlet or concentration camp.

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April 28 : Government attacks Nonadanga again

by Partho Sarathi Ray

Today morning the police and KMDA has again unleashed violence on the evicted slum dwellers of Nonadanga. The slum dwellers had partially reconstructed some of the dwellings and were living there. KMDA had constructed a wall around the plot and today they came to block up the entry and exit points in the wall, effectively enclosing the people inside. The people resisted and broke down this filled up part. The police attacked them and have arrested sixteen people, including Bapi Mandal, who is a long time resident and organizer there. More ominously, some of the people who live in the surrounding flats (these are the people who have been rehabilitated to these flats) were being instigated for the past few weeks by the Trinamool Congress, and there was a confrontation today between these people and the evicted slum dwellers. The government will try to instigate these people and launch an all out attack to displace the evicted slum dwellers. The situation is very tense with the RAF surrounding the area.

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April 19

- It was a day free from police intimidation; therefore construction of several temporary shelters could be undertaken by the residents.
- A medical camp was held today from 10 a.m. at Nonadanga by Shramajibi Swasthya Udyog. Dr. Sumita Das, Dr. Soumyakanti Bag and Dr. Pratik Deb treated about 50 patients. Anxiety, tension headache, depression are common amongst the evicted people. Apart from the evicted, a few people from the surrounding buildings also visited the make-shift clinic. The physical condition of the participants in the hunger-strike is stable till now.

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April 18: Photos from the Mass Convention (Reported by Purba Rudra)

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Above: Rajkumar, day 8 of hunger strike

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Above: Purna: ” There is no place for the poor in didi’s London”

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April 17: Videos from the resistance at Nonadanga



Apr. 17 Reports received:

1. Mr. Anwar Mondal, one of the participants of the hunger strike, was admitted to Medical College, Kolkata tonight at 7:45pm. He was fasting since 10th and today we discovered his CBG (capillary bloog glucose level) to be 38 at 1 p.m. Though the media and the officers of intelligent bureau took a great interest in taking note of that, the govt. didn’t do a single thing to interfere. No medical team or personnel was sent on behalf of the government. At 5, we the physicians present there, decided that he needed to be hospitalised as his life couldn’t be put into jeopardy for the callousness of the government and he was taken to Medical College Kolkata where he was admitted in general medicine acute male ward. (Reported by P. Deb)

2. This morning the Police paid a visit again but they left without any confrontation after taking stock of the situation. Some of the shanties have been repaired. The local TMC brought 5 truck load of outsiders to the site and took out a rally. One of the participants of the hunger strike got seriously ill and had to be hospitalized. At this point there are 8 participants. Their condition is getting worse under the sweltering heat.

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April 16: KMDA staff came to the area along with police prison vans, bulldozers and tried to intimidate the protesters. They started loading the bamboo poles and other structures lying around, in trucks they had brought. When they were confronted by the activists/protesters inquiring about written they had any written orders, they mellowed down stating that they had no order to evict them by force or to remove the structures. They promptly unloaded whatever they took.

The Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee has invited everyone to assemble in strength at an open convention at Nonadanga on Wednesday April 18, when the hunger-strike protesting the evictions will be completing its eighth day.

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Photos courtesy Sayan Das.

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April 16: Pamphlet issued by Uchhed Pratirodh Committee – in Bengali (original version) and in English

Posters from the eviction site
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April 15: Photos from the Hunger-strike and demolition at Nonadanga, Kolkata (from P. Rudra)

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April 11: Background and demands from Bapi Mandal, veteran social activist and resident of Nonadanga.

(Obtained from khobordar.com)

Transcript below

Q. What are your thoughts on the requirement of identity papers for rehabilitation?

The respected Urban Development Minister is saying something laughable. If you care to find out the evicted people who have gotten rehabilitation in the past, a majority do not have voter cards, ration cards, identity papers. Many are not voters. How did they get rehabilitation? Today they are saying these things, but at that time, when evictions happened all over Kolkata, people didn’t have voter cards or ration cards.

In the aftermath of Aila, many people have come from the villages. Others who have come have been driven out by lack of employment, they have come to Kolkata to live, their identity papers are back in the villages. They have come to Kolkata for barely a year; there are many in the city who have lived for thirty years and do not have identity papers! It is unacceptable that rehabilitation is contingent upon identity papers.

Are we not citizens of India? It is the responsibility of the governemnt to make identity papers for us. If we don’t have papers, the government should first make our papers and then give us rehabilitation. Why hasn’t the government provided papers to us for so many years? I can tell you – in the village – a girl got married and her in-laws sent her back because she didn’t have a ration card. Is it her or her family’s fault, or the government’s fault?

They have come from the villages, their identity papers are back there or have been flooded away. The government should provide new papers.

Have they come from Germany, Japan, or Bangladesh? Have they come from Pakistan? No. They have come from other villages of West Bengal. They are citizens of West Bengal, of India. They have been driven out of the villages by poverty, they have come to live.

Q. The government says that those who have come due to Aila – they already have the Aila housing scheme available. They should avail of that scheme and go back to the village.

I have gone to many villages, and just the other day came back from a village. At the time of Aila, I worked in many villages, saw, that money came for the people who lost their homes, but that money did not reach such people. The people who were not harmed by Aila received the money. They are saying that land will be given to the landless – but that is on paper. If you check, you see that people with land and homes are receiving money.

Does anybody leave their birthplace just for a whim? Do you think they came here because they are enjoying it?

The money that the Central Governemnt is setting aside for the poor – read the papers to find out who gets that money. Half goes to the ministers and politicians, half goes to the local power elite. Whatever is left goes to the local politician of the village, Panchayat, the families of political parties. The people for whom the money is meant don’t get it. This is the truth, this is what you see on TV. What the Left Front did for 34 years – these people have commented upon. The ma-mati governemnt has continuously asked – what happened to that money? Then why are they now saying that the Scheme is there, so the people will get the money?

Now – the people of this governemtn are themselves reporting what is going on in the villages. You read in the papers regularly – in this or that Panchayat, some ma-mati Panchayat, the leader is doing TMC, the Panchayat pradhan does TMC, the money goes to them.

There are many villagers here – am I saying anything wrong? (People present concur)

So the main thing is: not everybody has come due to Aila. But there is no work back in the village. Just having a home doesn’t fill up your stomach – you need a job, you need money. If somebody guarantees them two meals a day back there, nobody will come here.

If the government says – please go back to your respective villages, we will feed you there – people will go back immediately. (Asks people present – won’t you? – People loudly agree)

The government is playing a theater – there is a Scheme, this and that, people get it, etc. – that is all on paper.

India has been independent for 64 years. Even today, this is the condition of our mothers – they have to work as domestic help in other peoples homes. Babies are dying due to lack of treatment. Due to lack of treatment, thousands of people are dying daily. Independent India, after 64 years – why this, brother?

Q. What are the goals of this mass fasting? Are the demands rehabilitation? How are you telling the government to do the rehabilitation?

This fast is centered around two issues. One: Rehabilitation. Two: they have wrongfully arrested seven people. We demand their release.

From the very first day, when the governemnt came here with loudspeakers and announced that we were being given 24 hours notice, that after that our homes would be demolished, all the people went to the Ward 108 TMC president. He heard everything, and agreed – where can people go in 24 hours, it wasn’t right, etc. He advised us to go to the bidhayak Javed Khan. So we all went to Javed Khan, who wasn’t there that day, so the people went back the next day, and he promised to look into it. The next day the authorities came again with loudspeakers, and announced that demolition would begin in 12 hours. So all the people went to Mamata Banerjee. When they reached her home, the police stopped them, and told them to wait and speak to the Urban Development Minister.

The people were brought to Kalighat police station. The Urban Development Minister met them there, and said that they were against eviction! He advised them to go after two days, with their identity papers, to the Development Office in Salt Lake. Some people said that their papers were back in the villages – the Minister assured them that all that was needed was proof that they were Indian citizens. The 200 families who were living here got their papers from the village, went to the office of the Urban Development Minister, he looked at everything and said he would look into it. He assured them that they had nothing to fear.

The next day the bulldozers came.

That means that this whole process, where the people put forward their demands in a peaceful way, and received promises, it transpired later, that the whole thing was a charade. How can anybody lie to these people – these poor, working people? That too a respected Minister?

These people need rehabilitation. And they demand the release of the seven innocent people who have been arrested.

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UPDATES (all times are IST) :

26.4.2012 :

Debalina Chakrabarty and Abhijnan Sarkar were granted bail on the case related to the Nonadanga arrests, but they remain in judicial custody after being tagged to cases in Nandigram and Bishnupur.

23.4.2012 :

In today’s hearing at Alipore court, Samik Chakraborty, Siddhartha Gupta, Manas Chatterjee and Debjani Ghosh were granted bail. At a hearing in Haldia court related to the Nandigram agitation, Debalina Chakrabarty and Abhijnan Sarkar were again remanded in police custody for two days.

21.4.2012 :

There was high drama at Alipore court on 21 April, during the case hearing of Debalina and Abhijnan. The two activists had earlier been separated from the rest of the seven, who had been arrested for protesting the Nonadanga evictions, by tagging them with old cases from Nandigram and elsewhere which are under CID investigation. Debalina has faced long interrogation by the CID. On Saturday, similar to the previous hearing, they were not produced in the open court but taken straight to the magistrate’s chamber from where they were remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.

Their lawyer, Subhashis Roy, raised strong objections to the denial of hearing in the open court. An altercation followed and in an unprecedented step, the counsel himself was detained at the court on the allegation that he had been trying to take pictures inside the courtroom with his cellphone. He was, however, released at night.

Debalina and Abhijnan will now be in jail until 5 May, if the police do not seek their custody in some other case before that. They will not be lodged at the Alipore Central Jail like the others though. Abhijnan has already been shifted to the Haldia subjail in East Midnapore district, and Debalina is also likely to be kept there. The case of the others will be heard on Monday.

18.4.2012 :

A protest and burning of an effigy of Mamata Banarjee organized by Basti Surakshya Mancha constituent of the All-India Coordination of Slum Dwellers and Homeless People occurred at Lower PMG Square in Bhubaneswar yesterday. The protest was organised in opposition to the eviction of Nonadonga slums, the inhuman attacks on the protesters and people who inhabited the slums, and the arrest of the seven activists. Photographs and a press note are available.

16.4.2012 :

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Photographs courtesy of Debal Mazumder.

14.4.2012 :

A mass hunger strike has started over the Nonadanga issue. The dispossessed of Nonadanga are continuing their hunger strike. Debolina Chakraborty has started hunger strike while in CID custody; the other six jailed activists will start a hunger strike from Saturday. Finally, political prisoners in different jails have decided to start hunger strikes to show their solidarity with the anti-eviction movement and the Nonadanga seven. Read the Times of India article.

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Photo courtesy of Moloy Bar

13.4.2012 :

Today APDR general secretary Debaprasad Bhattacharya lodged a formal complaint with the Bhowanipore police station against the police and hoodlums who had attacked the rally at Jatin Das Park yesterday. Two of the injured persons, Rangta Munshi and Shubhadeep Bera, also got their injury reports from the Calcutta Medical College. They had to be administered injections and tablets to relieve them of their continuing pain.

12.4.2012 :

****** The seven detained activists have been remanded to jail custody until 26 April. Two of them, Debalina and Abhijnan, have been tagged to old cases from Nandigram; Debalina has been further tagged to a case under UAPA from Bishnupur in South 24-Parganas district. The CID has sought custody of both.

****** Police and ruling party goons attacked an assembly of concerned citizens, including APDR activists, from Jatin Das Park. The group had gathered at the park before proceeding to Alipore court, where the seven anti-eviction activists under police custody are to appear later in the day. At least six persons were arrested, including APDR assistant secretary Rangta Munshi, and taken to Lalbazar. They were released on personal bonds after nine hours of detention at Lalbazar, however, a case under Section 151 CrPC has been slapped on them. See the Star Ananda video of the attacks. 24Ghanta reports that some of the attacking ruffians have been identified. One of them, Mayna, is known as an active TMC worker. Moreover, Shambhu and Santu are two other TMC cadres involved in Thursday’s attack.

****** A protest rally was held yesterday in Delhi over the Nonadanga issue. Those gathered at the protest strongly condemned the anti-people development model and eviction of slum-dwellers and hawkers in Nonadanga and all over Kolkata; they also demanded that this model be brought to a halt and the question of housing and rehabilitation of the residents be addressed. Finally, the group demanded that the seven arrested activists be released and the false charges be immediately dropped. A memorandum was submitted to the resident commissioner of Banga Bhawan.

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Photos courtesy of Ankit Sharma

11.4.2012 :

Photos of a procession in Shiliguri (11 April, 2012) demanding release of the seven detained activists and suitable compensation and rehabilitation for the dispossessed residents of Nonadanga, who are continuing their hunger strike.

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Courtesy : Ananyo Mukherjee.

***** Join us in Delhi, Kolkata on Apr 12 to protest against evictions and arrests
***** Video report on hunger-strike by the dispossesed people of Nonadanga (Star Ananda)
***** Police undertook a “land survey” at Nonadanga on the afternoon of 10.4.2012 and declared they would start fencing the plot tomorrow. The residents, who are living in the open field after their huts have been razed down, will sit in a hunger-strike in protest. The police also did not permit the persons in custody to meet with their family members.

10.4.2012 : Online Sanhati petition demanding the release of arrested activists

9.4.2012 :

*** All seven detained activists (including members of Sanhati) who were arrested yesterday have been remanded to police custody till April 12, after being produced at Alipore court today.
*** Around 2pm, 66 persons (40 men and 26 women) and 4 children were apprehended during the College Street demonstration and transported to Lalbazar. Those not taken into police custody continued the protest in College Square and a gathering of various activists began. Engaging in activities like sloganeering, addressing the local masses, postering, etc., the College Street protest continued till 8:30pm, until those 66 arrested men and women were released on bail.

9.4.2012 : Mass arrests of protestors at College Square.

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Photos courtesy of Sayan Das and Moloy Bar.