Nandigram to Nonadanga – Onslaught against democracy continues unabated

April 16, 2012

NANDIGRAM TO NONADANGA – ONSLAGUHT OF DEMOCRACY CONTINUES UNABATED WITH A CHANGE OF FACE

FORUM AGAINST EVICTION AND MAL-DEVELOPMENT
16.4.2012, KOLKATA

A year back, the Left Front government faced their first defeat after 34 years and Mamata Banerjee assumed power riding on the popular strength of an anti-displacement movement giving people a new ray of hope. Now, the same government has become the oppressor of any voices of dissent and forcefully evicts the marginalised in the interest of corporate and other so-called development projects without even considering rehabilitation for the displaced.

On 30 March 2012, the state government used its police forces to forcefully evict hundreds of residents from Nonadanga on the pretext that they were illegal settlers. The police bulldozed the slum and some huts were razed to the ground. Nearly 700 people were rendered homeless. Most of them work as house helps, rickshaw pullers and construction workers. Some of the families are ecological refugees who were displaced from Sunderbans by the super cyclone Aila in 2009 and were forced to make Nonadanga their home as they didn’t get any benefits from the state government. Many of the families were evicted earlier for the expansion of Metro rail and cement factory site in South Kolkata.

In view of this unprovoked aggression of the state the residents of Nonadanga backed by several social activists and civil rights group staged a protest on April 4th, 2012 near Ruby junction. They were brutally beaten by the police and a pregnant woman in her third trimester was injured. This incident was condemned by several intellectuals and rights groups. In protest of this incident and forceful eviction of the residents of Nonadanga, many left organisations and individuals staged a peaceful sit-in demonstration on 30 March 2012. Without any provocation, the police arrested nearly 70 people including a nine year old girl and her mother. Later, all of them were released except for seven activists whom the police accused of having connections with the Maoists.

These seven activists are Deblina Chakraborty (activist of Matagini Mahila Samity), Abhijnan Sarkar (research scholar at Jadavpur University, Kolkata), Partha Sarathi Roy (member of SANHATI, Faculty of IISER Kolkata and alumni of IISc Bangalore), Debjani Ghosh (student activist of USDF, pursuing an M.Phil from Jadavpur University) , Siddhartha Gupta (Doctor), Shamik Chakroborty (Activist of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad) and Manas Chatterjee (Activist of CPI-ML-Liberation). As if this was not enough, the state then tagged two old cases from Nandigram against Debolina and Abhijnan. Deblina has been further charged with a case from Bishnupur under the draconian act UAPA.

Deblina along with Debjani and Abhijnan has been in the forefront of Singur-Nandigram movements and was instrumental in mobilising students against state repression during the Left Front era. Partha Sarathi Roy has been vocal against the repressive policies of the Left Front government. He always spoke in favor of people’s resistance and protested against the flawed policies of the government. It seems that the current government has taken a page out of its predecessor and branding any kind of dissent as a Maoist menace. To protest against the implication of fake charges, Deblina along with the other jailed activists started a hunger strike. Some political prisoners from different jails too, have decided to start hunger strike to show solidarity with the Nonadanga residents.

As responsible citizens it is our duty to stand for those who are fighting for the rights for the marginalized and the downtrodden. We appeal to all sections of the society to oppose the slaughter of democracy by the state government on the pretext of development and by using force to evict the residents of Nonadanga. We strongly condemn the arrest of seven activists and demand unconditional release of all those who have been implicated on false charges immediately.

Contact : LOKESWARI DASGUPTA, USDF (9836902950)

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Join us, if all of these incidents have outraged you (or your modesty). Walk, even if you can hear the ring “Off with your heads” whispering in your ears.

The recent arrest of Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra has brought to light the increasing violations of democratic rights in our state. This arrest is a reminder that the patterns which were emerging from various incidents in the past two months are very serious indicators of changing times.

The increasing violence against women (the rape cases in Bally Bridge, Katoa, Dhakuria and Park Street) and the state’s insensitivity towards the case at Park Street, the transfer of IPS officer Damayanti Sen, refusal to buy certain newspapers for the public libraries, the arrest of seven individuals who were protesting against eviction of slum dwellers from Nonadanga, and finally, the arrest of Prof. Mahapatra for sharing a political graphic via email – point towards the worrying state of affairs in West Bengal. The message has been clearly relayed to us – no protest against or critique of the state will be tolerated. The ‘conspirators’ will be brought to ‘justice’.

On the occasion of Bengali New Year, our Chief Minister has wished us well, and has invited us to create a ‘New Bengal’. We are safe in this imagined Utopia; our state will protect us and our system will watch over us lovingly as long as we decide to turn a blind eye to what happens to dissenting voices.

This is the time. This is the reason. To walk, to sing, to speak and to send message across. We will fight for change every time change is essential. We will think free, read free, walk free. Every time we are raped or arrested, a thousand voices will unite in protest. We will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The march on Tuesday is not presided over by any political organisation. It will have no banners of any party or any institution.

Join us, if all of these incidents have outraged you (or your modesty). Walk, even if you can hear the ring “Off with your heads” whispering in your ears.

From the representatives of general students :

Nandita, Anotorip, Sarbjaya, Avik, Soumyajit, Sanmit, Amlan