Delhi – Report and Joint Statement from the protest against evictions and state repression

July 6, 2012

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A number of mass and democratic rights organisations of Delhi participated in a protest demonstration in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi against unleashing of continued state repression and TMC-terror on the militant resistance of the Nonadanga residents in Kolkata spiritedly fighting against forceful eviction and displacement and for the cost of their reproduction. The protest conveyed its solidarity with the people of Nonadanga resolutely and collectively struggling under the leadership of Uchhed Pratirodh Committee and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the 35 residents and activists involved in the struggle who were arrested after a brutal lathi-charge on peaceful demonstrators on 20 June 2012. A strong protest was registered against the arrests and repressive measures against activists at various points, including the demand for the release of Debalina Chakrabarti and Abhignan Sarkar–two activists who have been incarcerated since April after being framed under draconian laws such as UAPA for associating with the Noandanga anti-eviction struggle.

While expressing solidarity with the movement in Nonadanga, speakers from the participant organisations addressing the demonstration noted that this curbing of democratic voices asking for legitimate rights of livelihood and land is seen everywhere from the recent incident of repression and eviction in Patiala, Punjab to the recent killing of 20 tribals in Chhattisgarh. However such terror tactics have however failed to dampen the indomitable spirit of resistance among the resisting people in these areas, of which Nonadanga is a spirited example. Today’s protest again asserted the solidarity of the democratic and progressive organisations and individuals of Delhi with these militant resistance movements across the country.

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Joint Statement and Memorandum to the Prime Minister and West Bengal Governor

Date: 5th July 2012

We unequivocally condemn the continued state repression on the militant resistance of the residents of the Noandanga area of Kolkata. After the demolitions of their houses on 30th March 2012 by the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (with the full support of the Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government and its police force) in order to hand over the land to capitalist land sharks, the residents rebuild their houses and have continued to press the demand for proper rehabilitation. A continuous barrage of state repression has been let loose since then. First, on 11th April police lathicharged and arrested demonstrators, who were peacefully demanding their rights. Later two of the arrested activists, Debalina Chakrabarty and Abhijnan Sarkar have been tagged under various cases and the draconian UAPA has been clamped on them. The local Ucched Pratirodh Committee (Resistance to Eviction Committee) particularly has been the target of vicious attacks as it dared to posit an independent assertion of the people of Noandanga along with the activists of various mass and democratic rights organizations.

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. The state ran a continued disinformation campaign to delegitimize the struggle decrying it as ‘preparation for armed rebellion’, Nonadanga being used as ground for ‘stockpiling arms and ammunitions’ and its residents as ‘illegal encroachers’. In Nonadnaga, TMC goons continue to create an atmosphere of terror, having publicly threatened to kill the president of the Ucched Pratirodh Committee, Amitava Bhattacharya, beating up residents and many activists, only to be resisted by the collective might of the residents. Failing to break the popular resistance, a new strategy has been adopted by the ruling party: in order to be eligible for rehabilitation, residents of Nonadanga have been asked to ‘align with the TMC, severe ties with the ‘outsiders’, and take down the banner of Ucchhed Pratirodh Committee’. The police has meanwhile poisoned the local water body from where the residents get their water, and the boundary wall surrounding the area has been scaled up.

On June 20th when around 250 residents and activists demonstrated in front of the Writers Building, a brutal police lathicharge, seriously injuring two, and arrest of 35 people was the state’s answer. After this, the shrinkage of democratic space has become even starker as no permission for any demonstration in Kolkata or anywhere in West Bengal is being given. TMC goons even attacked a local photocopy shop which had ‘dared to’ print the leaflets of the Ucched Pratirodh Committee.

We are witnessing in India today, an uninterrupted spate of forcible slum demolitions and evictions, buttressed by state repression. In our country altogether 256 lakh people are homeless or live in abject conditions in slums, and this number is progressively on the rise.. Evicting the labouring masses from their huts has become the norm, as the cities are restructured according to the needs of the ruling classes. In Delhi, Shiela Dixit’s government has drawn up a list of 44 colonies to be evicted in the next few months- 33 in the first phase. We remember the spate of demolitions which was the run-up to the Commonwealth games 2010, and how the rulers attempted to hide our ‘dirty’ dwellings and crush our then disunited voices of protest. This continues daily, even today. On 20th April 2012, the DDA with over 2000 police force, attempted to demolish and evict slum-dwellers from Gayatri Colony near Anand Parbat industrial area in Delhi, but were forced to retreat faced with the unity and resistance of the residents.

Likewise planned evictions are taking place in different part of the country. In Patiala, Punjab, on 19th June 2012 hundreds of policemen with police officials accompanied the higher officials of Panchayat and Development department and Revenue officials and other state officials to wrest control of about 140 acres of land from the peasants who have been cultivating it for the last four to five decades. The police suddenly descended on the village in great numbers to forcibly take possession of the lands of poor peasants without informing the elected Panchayat and people of the village as usually is the norm. The police not only used rubber bullets and water cannon but also resorted to firing and lathicharge when a large crowd of people from Balberah and Charason villages and adjoining villages assembled to resist acquisition. The injured includes women too. The police were hunting down and dragging people from various tube wells in the area and mercilessly beating them. They have also destroyed dozens of motorcycles belonging to the people

When the peasants had brought their injured to the Rajindra Government Hospital in Patiala for their treatment and the district leadership of BKU Dakaunda, Punjab and other people arrived to meet the injured in hospital, the police officials arrived and arrested a number of people from the hospital premises. A total of ten persons were taken to the local thana, booked under various cases and then turned them over to the Sadar police station. The arrested persons included Patiala District President of BKU Dakaunda Dr. Darshan Pal, District Secretary Satwant Singh Wajidpur, and Writer of Jangalnama Satnam Two of the leaders were severely beaten up in the Sadar Thana.

Recently the Indian state has intensified its eviction and extermination campaign against the adivasis of central and eastern India under the rubric of Operation Green Hunt. On the night of 28 June 2012 when the adivasi peasants of Sirkegudem, Kothagudem and Rajupenta – adjacent villages separated by not more than a kilometre in the Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh – gathered in hundreds to plan the performance of the traditional festival Beej Pandum (seed festival), they were surrounded by six hundred armed forces personnel of the Indian state. The Para-military forces resorted to indiscriminate firing killing at least 18 adivasis cold-blooded. Two other villagers were likewise killed near Jagargunda village of Sukma district the same night, and predictably, were shown as casualties of an ‘encounter’ between the Maoists and the armed forces. As the testimonies of the eyewitnesses coming through the media and the statements of different social-political forces now confirm, the killing of the adivasis was a heinous massacre committed by the Cobra battalion of the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh police under the command of top police officials.

In this situation we must raise our voice against the eviction and the continued state repression on the militant resistance of the residents of the Noandanga. We must resist the eviction plan of the Shiela Dixit’s government of Delhi. We condemn the brutal repression on the farmers of Punjab and the massacre of 20 tribals in Chattisgarh.

WE DEMAND:

(1) Immediate and unconditional release of all the 35 activists and residents of Nonadanga arrested on June 20. The continuous state repression through joint effort by the police, administration and TMC party workers to harass and intimidate the Nonadanga residents must be stopped.

(2) Withdrawal of all cases registered against all persons arrested at various points over the past few months in connection with the Nonadanga movement, including Debalina Chakraborty and Abhijnan Sarkar who had been arrested for participating in this mass movement but later tagged to other cases including under the draconian UAPA, which has resulted in their continued imprisonment.

(3) The right to housing and rehabilitation of the slum-dwellers and hawkers in Nonadanga must be immediately ensured in a fair and just manner so that that their existence is not further devalued. All construction in Nonadanga by the KMDA must come to an immediate halt. The eviction drive in the city, and the anti-people programme of neo-liberalism of which it is an integral part, must be stopped.

(4) The process of slum-eviction in Delhi must be stopped immediately and inhabitants of the jhuggi-jhopri clusters in the city should be provided with adequate land, and respectable housing with clean drinking-water sources and proper sanitation amenities.

(5) The concerned police officials and Block Development and Panchayat Officer of Patiala Dist., Punjab be booked for inflicting injuries, smashing motorcycles, firing without warning and without any orders from the Sub Div. Magistrate and torturing in the Sadar Thana. Cases against the people and BKU Dakaunda leaders should be withdrawn immediately.

(6) The police personnel, police officers and their political masters who are directly responsible for perpetrating the Sirkegudem massacre, including the CEO of Operation Green Hunt should be booked in cases and punished accordingly.

Sd/-

All India Federation of Trade Unions(New)
Bigul Mazdoor Dasta
Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP)
CPHRD
Correspondence
Democratic Students Union (DSU)
Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra (IMK)
Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU)
Krantikari Naujawan Sabha (KNS)
Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS)
Mazdoor Patrika
Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha (MMM)
Naujawan Bharat Sabha (NBS)
Peoples’ Front
People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)
Peoples’ Democratic Front of India (PDFI)
Posco Pratirodh Solidarity-Delhi
Pragatisheel Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha (PMMM)
Radical Notes
Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF)
Students For Resistance (SFR)
Sanhati-Delhi