Perspectives on Nandigram – articles by Dipankar Bhattacharya (Liberation), Mazdoor Mukti, and RDF

November 25, 2007


Contents:

Nandigram Dared to Spread its Wings – A Mazdoor Mukti Publication
Nandigram-III: Lessons and Challenges – Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI(ML) Liberation
Nandigram, Salwa Judum and Post-Godhra – Many clothes of the Emperor – Article from RDF

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Nandigram Dared to Spread its Wings – A Mazdoor Mukti Publication

By Asis Kumar Das

They have been paid back in the same coin.” November 13, 2007 Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Nandigram is being beaten black and blue. CPI(M) red flags are fluttering from rooftops and shops. “Red terror” still continues.

Argentinian guerilla filmmaker Solanas, who was special guest in Kolkata Film Festival, left Kolkata in utter despair expressing that he felt virtually in a prison, under constant surveillance in the “Left” ruled West Bengal. Drawing parallels between the violence in Nandigram and post-Godhra riots in Gujarat, veteran Left-leaning historian Sumit Sarkar reacted in pain, “Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is like Narendra Modi”! Large numbers of intellectuals have denounced this CPM-orchestrated violence, many of them previously publicly known as supporters of CPIM and left Front.

Unleashing a murderous campaign of terror, the trigger-happy government of West Bengal has recaptured Nandigram. The whole area was blocked off by the CPIM goons and the police, and the media was not allowed to enter — all with the connivance of the State government. All entry points of Nandigram, as well as Khejuri, the launching place of the armed attack and hideout of CPIM-hired goons and mafias from districts, were kept totally isolated by CPM so as to carry out systematic killing of people. They have ensured that there were no witnesses!

Armed mercenaries organized by the CPI(M) with red headbands killed at least ten persons if not more in a week of violence, which began on November 6. Many fled the Nandigram area, about 10,000 villagers or more to find refuge in relief camps or with relatives.

The horror was best described by the Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi in his Statement on 9th November:

The ardour of Deepavali has been dampened in the whole State by the events in Nandigram. Several villages in Nandigram are oscillating from the deepest gloom to panic. Large numbers of armed persons from outside the district have, it is undeniable, forced themselves onto villages in Nandigram Block I and II for territorial assertion. Thousands of villagers have consequently been intimidated into leaving their homes … several huts are ablaze. Large numbers of villagers have taken refuge in the local high school in Nandigram, bereft of food and personal security…”. “At the time of writing, the most accurate description for Nandigram is the one used by our Home Secretary, namely, it has become “a war zone”. No Government or society can allow a war zone to exist without immediate and effective action…the manner in which the “recapture” of Nandigram villages is being attempted is totally unlawful and unacceptable. I find it equally unacceptable that while Nandigram has been ingressed with ease by armed people on the one hand, political and non-political persons trying to reach it have been violently obstructed. Some of them were bearing relief articles for the homeless. …effective action will have to be taken … These includes (i) the immediate return of the ingressers (ii) the giving of urgent relief to the displaced persons in Nandigram and (iii) the facilitation of their return to their homes… unless these steps are taken within hours, and the syndrome of “capture and recapture” is not ended, … the peace talks process will remain grounded. …Let me conclude by saying: Enough is enough. …”.

Earlier, reacting immediate after 14 March carnage the shocked and outraged Governor, “Pro-active” as labeled by “Left Front” Chairman Biman Bose obliquely, had questioned the use of police firing. The killing filled him “with a sense of cold horror”.

Encouraged by senior party leaders to crush the rebellious villagers, and learning from their March 14th experience, this time the CPM goons were even more ruthless. Some 200 CPI(M) men from Khejuri armed with long-range rifles, single-barrel guns, pipe guns and bombs crossed the Talpatti canal and attacked villages of Nandigram. Two teenage girls have been admitted to hospital after allegedly being gang-raped by them, armed cadres prevented the injured from getting medical attention. In a move reminiscent of medieval warfares, the CPM organised a huge rally placing 500 captured BUPC members, all tied up, on the forefront as human shields.

Activists of BUPC and opposition parties are now being hunted and singled out by the CPIM cadres ravaging Nandigram. Brinda Karat’s Dumdum Dawai outburst came on a day the SFI — the student wing of her party — suffered a debacle in Jawaharlal Nehru University, the cradle of socialism and the alma mater of her husband Prakash. Another coincidence: the rout is being blamed on Nandigram.

Following the footsteps of her elderly leader Benoy Konar, one of the main instigators of the 14 March carnage, Brinda Karat signalled her audience to let loose retaliatory violence on the 4th day of November. In a rally at Dumdum she called for Dum Dum Dawai (ruthless public-beating) to the troublemakers in Nandigram. The next day a fresh bout of violence erupted at Nandigram when the CPI(M) launched concerted efforts to recapture the area. Over 400 armed CPI(M) men converged upon Nandigram from six different directions that virtually crushed the BUPC resistance.

The CPI (M) finally re-established its political hegemony at Nandigram in East Midnapore district of West Bengal on Thursday 8th November following a four-day-long pitched battle. At last “hell” has descended on the people of Nandigram. Benoy Konar, the President of the Krishak Sabha [the Peasant wing of CPI(M)] has the satisfaction to see his prophecy come true: in January, he had predicted that “We’ll surround from all sides all the four gram panchayats and make life hell for them. Then they will understand the fun”!

CPM cadres are busy celebrating the “sunrise in Nandigram”. The killings in West Bengal have ignited anew the apparently lost memories of Sainbari incident in 1969, and a long list of other atrocities — Panskura, Nanoor, Chhoto Angaria, Garbeta, Ghatal, Goghat, Khanakul, Keshpur and Singur. Each of these places has a gory tale to tell.

At present, Bengal politics seems polarised between the CPI(M)-led pro-SEZ camp and the camp of Anti-SEZ people who dared to oppose their atrocities, anti-people policies. It is true that other parties like the Trinamul, Congress, BJP and others are pretending to be friends of people so that they can lap up growing anti-CPIM anger. The same politics has also been reflected over the past three decades, marked often by clashes between the CPI(M) and its smaller allies.

Why is the CPIM so keen to establish their supremacy, even opting for outright muscle power? Recapturing Nandigram had become a political compulsion for the CPI(M) in view of the forthcoming panchayat elections in the state due in a few months. The CPI(M) has used land reforms and the panchayat as weapons to mobilize up popular support. The panchayat, which appears to be a source of funds and a vote-catching machine, has become virtually an arm of the party. “To control the panchayat is to control the village. To survive, one had either to keep quiet or decide that if you can’t lick them, join them.” But since this capitulation was forced by the compulsion to survive, lacking genuine will, the support- base of the CPI(M) became hollow at the core and fed discontent. Not only middle-ranking farmers, but farm labourers also feel from their heart that muscle-power does not help them in any way to face real life. In the absence of any people’s-friendly policy and right to assert control over decision-making bodies effectively, the slow and retarded progress of development in all spheres of social life remained at the heart of the villages’ problems. It is this collective anger against the ruling CPI(M) that burst forth in West Bengal especially in Nandigram. No doubt it is a sign of the moment that the situation is becoming more and more explosive. Acting on behalf of Indian and international capital, the CPM-led State Government and its main constituent CPIM have sought complete prostration of the people. It is true that capitalism opts for terror, whenever needed, to assert its hegemony, but equally it prefers peace in whatever manner. It does not matter if that peace is a peace of the graveyard. And for that it requires a party or parties, “A Suitable Boy”, who can keep their helm secure. The CPIM is now trying to obtain that certificate from the capitalist class by using muscle power, a combination of partisan thugs and legalized as well as organized criminals.

What happened in Nandigram? Nandigram learnt from the experience of Singur and put up a mass resistance which West Bengal has not seen for a long time. The people of Nandigram, irrespective of their religious, gender or political affiliations, instantaneously organized themselves under the banner of Bhumi Uchhed Protirodh Committee (Committee Against Eviction from Land) against any attempt to grab their land when West Bengal Government had announced its intention of handing over land in Nandigram to the infamous Indonesian capitalist Salem to set up a SEZ. On 28 December 2006, the notorious Laksham Seth, the sitting MP of the CPM declared on behalf of the Haldia Development Authority that about 14,000 acres of land would be acquired from the villagers for the creation of a ‘mega chemical hub’.

On 3 January 2007, villagers gathered and shouted slogans against the government order in front of the Panchayat office. Called by the Panchayat Pradhan, the police came and started firing on the villagers. As a result, four persons were badly wounded. The villagers quickly reacted by attacking the police force, driving them out. Sensing retalliation the villagers started putting up barricades on the road by felling trees, digging roads and placing massive stones on the roads at regular gaps so as to prevent the entry of police jeeps.

It was the beginning of the formation of a mass resistance line which soon started encountering the CPIM hoodlums. On 7 January CPM hooligans attacked the villagers with arms from Khejuri, the other side of the Talpatikhal, as well as from the house of Sankar Samanta, a CPM leader living on the Sonachura side. They killed three villagers who were resisting the intruders. However, the intruders did not go unpunished. Sankar Samanta, who was leading the attack was lynched by the angry crowd. They set up a parallel administration in the area forming resistance groups to protect themselves from the police and the CPM goons.

Then came bloody March 14, when unarmed protestors were shot at their back. Hundreds of heavily armed CPM goons, acting with the foreknowledge and complicity of the police, mounted an armed assault on Nandigram. Fourteen villagers were killed and many injured, but ultimately the attack was beaten off. Binoy Konar, the so-called Kisan leader of CPIM, openly instigated this action by threatening to bring hell to the people. All sensible citizens including many comrades-in-arms activists and intellectuals who even campaigned in the last Assembly Election for CPIM were demanding resignation of the cold-blooded murderer Buddha, the mastermind of this massacre. Within 48 hours of the bloodbath of 14th, the people of Nandigram established their control over entire Nandigram driving away the CPM attackers. Men and women, armed with sticks and iron rods, chased out the CPM cadres. The paramilitary forces were restrained to enter the village.

More than 2,000 advocates of the West Bengal Bar Association had taken out protest march against the killing at Nandigram on that day. Returning their Rabindra Puraskars, the highest literary awards by the West Bengal government eminent historian couple Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar, close to CPI, reacted then instantly saying in an interview that “Jallianwala massacre happened in colonial India but what happened in Nandigram is shocking since it happened in a Left-ruled government in independent India… here the entire CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) machinery and the government were involved in the killings.”

The CPIM has continuously tried to fool us with their propaganda. They said, “As far as the specific violent incidents related to Nandigram is concerned there has been no notice issued for land acquisition” [January 9, 2007, CPIM Statement. People’s Democracy]. Slyly they forgot to mention that here really “only a notice” had been issued by the Haldia Development Authority which could not have been served without the consent of the Chief Minister. Later they have tried to mend the loopholes of their lie with a clever twist saying, “There was no notification for land acquisition in Nandigram. There was only a notice issued by the Haldia Development Authority announcing the intention to acquire land in certain areas.” [March 19, 2007, CPIM Statement. People’s Democracy]. Now question is, who dictated or gave authority to Haldia Development Authority to serve such a notice? It would be interesting to notice how the author of the statement here tried to fudge the fact with the words “notification”, “only a notice” and “intention”.

In the next paragraph it said, “On February 9, the Chief Minister announced that no land will be acquired without the consent of the people of Nandigram”. That means they were in fact trying to do so without the consent of the people! But it (February 9) was already too late to undone the lost of lives on 6 January! And only after the 14 March carnage Buddha finally declared that the land of Nandigram will never be acquired! What a shame! Raping of women, traumatized people, and above all, 14 lives were required for that realization!

Some persons are constantly parroting their deep concern over expulsion of “more than thousand CPIM followers” from Nadigram to justify armed onslaught on the villagers of Nandigram who refused to comply with CPIM diktats. At first CPIM claimed that their 2500 people were driven out. In later phases the claim dropped down to 1500 or even less to not more than 500 by some of their own spokespersons! What was the basis of their claim? CPIM has never submitted a full-proof list of them so far. And moreover, who are these anti-government Nandigram people? Till the beginning of 2007 they were mostly CPIM supporters. Now they have lost faith on the government, their own party. Herein lies the genesis of BUPC, an endeavour to embrace all dissenting voice of individuals, parties, and obviously a large section of disillusioned Left forces that have deserted CPIM. How one can compare organized and planned attacks one after another by the Police and CPIM thugs with the cases of expulsion? We should not take the cases of expulsion from Nandigram after 14 March incident at its face value. It is true that Nandigram people have chased out some CPIM cadres who were terrorizing the movement locally and were keeping links with the CPIM goons outside.

Death and plight of the two sides – Khejuri and Nandigram – can’t be appraised on the same plane. One is an attacker, the other attacked. One has assisted the government’s plan to evict people from their land and endanger their livelihood in the name of development and industrialization, and the other is fighting tooth and nail to save their own. When two distinct sets of logic and interest crash together with a violent impact upon lives, the reality pushes us to take a side with all the limitations of the resistance movement. If it is not, how would we justify the Paris Commune and the October Revolution when some innocent lives were lost in the face of angry rebels? In the same breath we must agree that this loss of lives is unfortunate and regrettable. Friends, now it is time to decide: Which side you are on? It is not surprising to us that some of our old guards and their spokespersons have already chosen the trail of capitalist logic as loyal partisans.

What an irony: while the CPIM state unit (party in state power) of West Bengal suppresses movements in Nandigram, Singur and elsewhere, their CPIM counterparts in other states do not oppose it; rather, they justify it while fighting in Raigad or in other places against SEZ policy of the Central government. And herein lies the hypocrisy of their politics. Nandigram, Singur or Raigad were not isolated events. They were integral parts of the nationwide anti-SEZ movements. Therefore, the attitude and role of different political parties like CPIM (who are commonly considered by some well within the Left camp) regarding various issues like failure of public distribution system (PDS), lack of education and health for the poor and etc. should be considered in their totality and dynamics, and be judged on the basis of their class position – what class they serve the interest.

Stating that we have no intention for chemical hub, the government wanted to trap the villagers into talks. But that did not work when people refused, remembering their earlier experiences of the befuddling tactics of the CPIM and the government. The villagers of Nandigram were reluctant to surrender their hard-won victory. But what they failed to realize were (firstly) the movement lacked the preparedness to build up its own leadership from below, (secondly) a network and correlation with the working masses beyond their social and geographical limitations, (thirdly) to mobilize more and more people effectively and actively on the resistance line instead of growing dependence upon arms power (fourthly) building up the courage to accept the strategy of retreat so as to consolidate achievements. Lastly and most importantly, working masses of the people never asserted their presence in the forefront to transcend the limit of mere land question, replacing it by the spirit of demanding the right to work and livelihood for all , which has the power to appeal to greater sections of the working masses as well as inspire them by heart to revolt.

Friends, the gate has opened up already with a flurry of mass movements. Let us come out and team up to nurture this new possibility. Stop the juggernaut of capitalist onslaught!

Asis Kumar Das 20.11.2007
asis.kumar.das@gmail.com

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Nandigram-III: Lessons and Challenges

By Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation

The year 2007 will be remembered as the year when the CPI(M) completely unmasked itself in the mirror of Nandigram. If January 2007 (Nandigram-I) was re-enacted in March (Nandigram-II), November (Nandigram-III) witnessed a brutal replay of the atrocities perpetrated in March 2007. Each time the operation has been more lethal and barbaric than the previous episode. If in March, the massacre was perpetrated under the joint auspices of the police force and armed marauders patronized by the party, in November the CPI(M) chose to keep the police in the background letting the party’s armed machinery be in exclusive charge of the entire operation. But sure enough, on every occasion, the killings have been preceded by categorical commands from some central leaders of the CPI(M).

The March 14-15 mayhem had followed in the wake of a televised threat issued by CPI(M) Central Committee member and peasant association leader Benoy Konar to make Nandigram a “living hell”. Likewise, the November killings too were forewarned by none other than Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha MP when she publicly advocated “Dumdum dawai” (direct physical action) to silence Nandigram.

What cruel jokes history can play! The expression “Dumdum dawai” had gained popular currency in Bengal in the course of the food movement of the 1960s when the Left-led masses administered this medicine of physical action against hoarders and profiteers. Today once again, West Bengal is in the throes of a powerful food movement, and this time the movement is directed against the CPI(M)-led government and the nexus of corrupt PDS dealers, panchayat functionaries, middlemen and government officials that is almost invariably identified with and blessed by the CPI(M). There is also another dimension to the “Dumdum dawai” irony. Rural women have visibly been in the forefront of the Singur-Nandigram resistance, and they have also had to bear the brunt of the barbaric repression unleashed by the state-CPI(M) combine. The “Dumdum dawai” advocated by the ‘firebrand’ women’s leader of the CPI(M) has been duly delivered in the form of more abuse, rapes and killings directed at the brave and fighting women of Nandigram.

A comparative study of the post-incident statements of West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee will also be in order. After Nandigram-I, the CM said it was wrong on the part of the Haldia Development Authority to issue the notice announcing the impending acquisition of land. He asked for the HDA land acquisition notice to be torn and consigned to the waste-paper basket. Following Nandigram-II, he said the ‘incident’ was unfortunate and as Chief Minister he owned all moral responsibility (without of course taking any concrete corrective step except withdrawing the SEZ proposal). The same CM has now greeted Nandigram-III as a case of tit-for-tat justice: “they have been paid back in their own coin!”

The timing of the operation is also worth noting. Nandigram-III happened at a time when the whole of West Bengal was immersed in Kalipuja-Dipavali festivities. The focus of the media had already shifted to other issues – Rizwanur’s ‘mysterious death’ in particular. As for the discourse concerning Nandigram, debates had veered around the need for deployment of central paramilitary forces with the State Government itself requesting the Centre for CRPF battalions. In fact, while the operation was on, CRPF jawans were already on their way to Nandigram, but the actual posting was delayed by the district administration and the CPI(M) machinery till “Operation Nandigrab” came to a temporary conclusion! Meanwhile, activists and mediapersons trying to enter Nandigram also got a taste of Brinda’s “Dumdum dawai” concoction.

The CPI(M) may well believe that it has now conclusively won the battle of Nandigram. With only a few months to go before the forthcoming panchayat elections, it may reasonably calculate that it has now sufficiently galvanized its ‘electoral machinery’. But there are indications galore that it has already lost heavily in the larger war of Nandigram. Inside West Bengal, the CPI(M)’s mass isolation has reached a new high as demonstrated so visibly by the unprecedented scale and composition of the November 14 dhikkar michhil (march of the people condemning the CPI(M) and its government and congratulating the fighting people of Singur and Nandigram). From the Governor and High Court and the NHRC Chief to the media and intelligentsia to its own partners in the Left Front – the CPI(M) now has to direct its barbs almost at everybody except its own poor shadow in West Bengal.

In many ways, the pattern of ossification and degeneration of the CPI(M) rule in West Bengal resembles the East European syndrome. For an authentic and moving description of the signs of degeneration of the ‘Left’ powerlords of West Bengal, one does not have to go any farther than veteran Marxist economist and writer Ashok Mitra. In one of his recent articles, Mitra has even gone to the extent of comparing the ruling CPI(M) in Buddahadeb’s dispensation to the anti-social dominated Congress of the 1970s in Siddhartha Shankar Ray’s regime. The veteran Marxist is alarmed that this degeneration may well pave the way for some sort of reactionary and even fascist revival in West Bengal. Yet Mitra has no hope of a Left and democratic resurgence in West Bengal and his only weapon against the rotten present and a frightening future is an ‘appeal’ to the CPI(M) central leadership to read the writing on Kolkata walls.

At the other end of this spectrum of disillusionment are activists and intellectuals who either harbour fond hopes of ‘democratising’ and ‘radicalising’ Mamata Banerjee or see a resurgent civil society as the panacea for all that ails Bengal.

We beg to differ from both these approaches. While fully sharing the anguish of Ashok Mitra and wholeheartedly welcoming the new-found activism of the civil society, we firmly believe that the need of the hour is to reorient the Left movement in the country along revolutionary lines. The CPI(M) leaders who camouflage their capitulation to capital and capitalism as ‘development-oriented class struggle’ and seek to justify the serial massacres and continuous bloodletting in Nandigram in the name of ‘peace, justice and democracy’ are doing an unpardonable disservice to the entire Left and democratic camp in the country. The Left movement therefore needs a bold new direction and a new leadership. Indeed, from the fighting rural poor of West Bengal to the progressive student community of JNU, the yearning for a radical alternative can be felt everywhere. Let us do all we can to strengthen this alternative direction and back it with an alternative framework of Left and democratic unity.

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Nandigram, Salwa Judum and Post-Godhra – Many clothes of the Emperor

An article by the Revolutionary Democratic Front of India, Nov. 12, 2007

When this is being written, six days have passed since the unprecedented brutal attack on the people of Nandigram began. The present phase of massacre, fascistic by all means, has made the brutal assault on 14th March this year pale to oblivion. The brutal massacre of the people and the manner in which the CPM government, Central government and all other parliamentary parties are playing their politics of deception and lies in connivance with the media is going to have far reaching implications on the way the discourse and practice of politics will unfold in the days to come in the state of West Bengal in particular and the country in general. One shudders to think that the happiest man today would be Narendra Modi of Gujarat who could see how things were being replayed, albeit under a different script, of ‘development’. Another proud brother who would also be ready to pat Budhha and Narendra Modi would be Mahendra Karma who had foreseen the clinical execution of salwa judum on the tribals of Chhattisgarh again under the grand slogan of ‘development’.

On Sunday the attack has intensified to such levels that the Governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi described it as ‘recapture’ of Nandigram by the CPI (M) cadres. In the meantime, the National Security Advisor M K Narayanan has on board the flight to Moscow with Manmohan has expressed his grave fear of violence in Nandigram due to the presence of Maoists! As if had the Maoists been not there everything would have been peaceful!

As the journalists, intellectuals and social activists have not been allowed entry inside Nandigram, the actual picture is not coming out to the full public view. The telephonic conversations with the leaders and activists of Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) and the people of Nandigram are the sources for real information.

Trinamul Congress member and an activist of Nishikant Mandal, informs from ground zero to Prof. Amit Bhattacharya, head of the Department of Jadavpur University that most of the activists of BUPC will be killed by the day and himself will not be spared. Mahasweta Devi taking cue of this information talked to the Governor by noon in the day. The Governor promised to save the lives of the activists as the relentless hunt goes unabated in the burning villages of Nandigram.

Planned Massacre

From reports of the people through telephonic conversations so far, in the last six days 150 people have been killed and 2000 people are missing. About 550 people are kidnapped by the CPI (M) goons and taken to Khejuri village where they are tortured and used as human shield to prevent any possible counter-attack from the people of Nandigram. It is in Khejuri that CPI (M) gathered more than 1500 goons (who are also their party members) from all over West Bengal and Bihar and trained for the brutal massacre to be carried out on 14th March and at present.

About 100 people who are badly injured have been admitted in various hospitals whereas thousands of injured people have fled the area without any medical care. Those 550 people who were kidnapped in the process of ‘recapture’ of Nandigram by the marauders of CPM were tied with ropes.

Active involvement of known criminal elements of the CPI (M)

Eye-witness reports pouring in for several prominent people in Kolkata and Delhi corroborate the fact that activists and people of Nandigram in hundreds caught red-handed Tapan Ghosh and Sukur Ali, two CPI (M) leaders from Gorbeta, who were forcefully taking away four injured women. Several reports also point to the fact that dead bodies were being made to disappear under the leadership and supervision of these two known criminals. One may recall that these two CPI (M) leaders of Gorbeta were chargesheeted in a case of lynching of Maoist cadres belonging to erstwhile CPI (ML) People’s War and destruction of all evidence by ensuring that their dead bodies disappear in Chotoangaria of Gorbeta in 2001. Significantly, Sukur Ali and Tapan Ghosh who are wanted by CBI for the last 5 years in the Chotoangaria case were now being used by the CPI (M) to lead the Nandigram massacre. They have been absconding for the past five years after they were chargesheeted and arrest warrants issued with the blessings of the top leaders of their Party. They were intercepted by the activists of BUPC while taking away four injured women and handed over to the local police.

On Thursday, 8th November when members of APDR (Association of People’s Democratic Rights), Bandi Mukti Committee and Medha Patkar, and others were going to Nandigram to express their solidarity with the struggling people of Nandigram as news started pouring in about the renewed attack on the people of Nandigram by the CPM goons. The team was stopped on the way and attacked brutally with many of them being badly beaten. Medha Patkar was slapped. As per the reports of the several Bengali dailies, this particular attack was organized by Ashok Patnaik, a leader of CPI (M) and able henchman of Lakhsaman Seth, the Haldia sitting MP of CPI (M). Lakhsaman Seth is also known as the land mafia leader of the region who first announced the procedure for acquisition of land from Nandigram for the proposed SEZ. Ashok Patnaik led the attack on the civil rights leaders and Medha Patkar and closed all the 6 entry points leading to Nandigram. A black out was created by putting off the street lights in all villages and towns like Nandigram, Tamluk and other places in and around Nandigram so that thousands of hoodlums who were already waiting at several points could enter Nandigram without any suspicion.

Planning from the top

The intention of the CPI (M)’s top leadership could be understood when we see the planned attack by gathering all their party cadres (basically goons notorious in various places) not only from West Bengal, but also from other states like Jharkhand and Bihar and other parts of West Bengal. The preparations for this ‘final attack’, as it is being described by the CPI (M) land mafia, started several months ago after the Nandigram people successfully established their movement within days after 14th March massacre this year. Mercenaries from Ranigunj-Asansol coal-belt, Gorbeta and Keshpur were also hired. For months training and rehearsals were being conducted in Khejuri. In Khejuri village, permanent bunkers were constructed and huge quantities of arms and ammunition were stocked for months for this ‘final attack’. The kind of preparations that were made clearly show that the entire CPI (M)’s top leadership is involved in the process. At the ground level, as is pointed out by many of the eminent speakers repeatedly and quite openly in the past five days in all public protest meetings in Kolkata, atleast there are three more MPs of CPI (M) who are directly involved in these preparations apart from Lakhsaman Seth, the MP of Haldia. They are Torit Topdar, MP representing Barrackpur constituency, Amitabha Nandi, of Dum Dum constituency, and Sushant Ghosh of Midnapur constituency. It is an open talk in every nook and corner of West Bengal today that these four MPs are directly involved in the armed operations to kill, maim, rape and mutilate and make the dead bodies disappear. These four MPs are assisted by Nirupam Sen, the Minister for Industry of Buddhadeb Basu’s cabinet, who is from Bardwan district.

Sophisticated weapons were given to thousands of mercenary elements of the CPI (M). Rifles like AK 47 and SLRs in hundreds are given apart from elaborate logistical support such as vehicles, trucks, bombs and bottles of liquor. These mercenaries entered the villages and captured some villages in the beginning while they kept on moving further. Reportedly, so far about 550 people including some of the leaders, cadres and supporters of Bhoomi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) were taken hostage and used as human-shield both in the battle field and in the Khejuri base zone—the training centre of CPI (M).

It is expected that the central paramilitary forces (1 battalion of CRPF) will arrive in Nandigram latest by Monday evening. Earlier Mamata Benerjee supported the deployment of CRPF in Nandigram. But by Sunday morning she changed her opinion and started opposing the deployment of the CRPF battalion. Now all democratic and civil rights organizations and individual democrats are opposing the deployment of the CRPF battalion.

Women the target of reprisal

Many women were dragged into school buildings and raped. As per the reports from the villages, some of the notorious leaders of CPI(M) who are involved in the massacre are Ashok Guria, Ashok Beda and Himanshu Das all local leaders from East Midnapur. These butchers are at present leading the mobs going around the villages of Nandigram block.

Village after village is burnt down. Before burning the houses the hoodlums looted the property, humiliated the women including raping them. For example, by early morning on Sunday, 300 houses were looted and burnt down in a village called Sathengaberi. By evening, Gokulnagar and Sonachura villages, the epicentre of Nandigram resistance were looted and completely burnt down.

Nandigram has become the representation of India, while CPI (M) the typical fascist brutal ruling elite of Indian social order in the ‘post-colonial’ period.

None other than a fascist force

The fresh attack on the people of Nandigram in the last four days by the ‘Harmed Vahini’—the CPI (M) version of VHP—has all the features of 1984 massacre of Sikhs engineered by the Congress Party and RSS-BJP engineered post-Godhra massacre. This time around, the CPI (M) prepared larger number of its goon-cadres compared to 14 March massacre this year from all over the state to unleash organised violence and ‘recapture’ its ‘lost territory’ for the last 8 months. The brutal massacre is continuing unabated by closing all ways for the outsiders including the press. The fascist forces of CPI (M) armed to the teeth with at least 3 months of training started marching into the areas of Nandigram on Thursday, a day before Diwali. But the top leadership of the CPI (M) in the state were shocked to witness the stiff resistance from the people as this was beyond their expectation.

The farce of the coalition drama

The CPI (M) and the ruling UPA coalition are now jointly operating to step up violence on the resisting people of Nandigram with a battalion of CRPF soon expected in this area, while as the Congress calls for a West Bengal bandh against the attack on Nandigram. When the CRPF battalion reaches Nandigram, it will be standing by the goons aiding and protecting them while they continue their brutalities on the people with much renewed strength. The Centre’s gesture of sending a CRPF battalion is like bribing the CPI (M) not to push their demand of de-operationalising of the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement. The CPI (M) will now stage a ‘mock opposition’ in the impending parliamentary debate on the Nuclear deal, while BJP tries to cash it by creating a much more vigorous mockery of the usual parliamentary stunt. Thus, today Nandigram and Nuclear deal are closely linked on the macabre theatre of the absurd called parliamentary democracy.

Once again Nandigram provides us of another major example to understand the nature of the political process in our country. The fresh attacks on the people of Nandigram shows how CPI(M) is waging organized armed oppression on the people openly while the state armed forces stand mute witnesses on the battlefield supporting the attackers.

CPI (M) is a history sheeter when it comes to murdering people

The armed attacks on the rural populace by the CPI (M) is nothing new. The CPI (M) has been controlling (ruling) the people of West Bengal in the past 30 years using arms and goons through its party network election after election. What is new with the Nandigram is, for the first time people started resisting the arms and muscle power of the CPI (M) and made its goons flee from their area during the 14 March incidents and after. Since then, in the past 7 months, CPI (M) has been trying to ‘recapture’ the Nandigram area. The tensions continued all along day by day and night as CPI (M) armed cadres continuously attacked the villages. They have isolated Nandigram by not allowing food supplies, consumer goods, power, and water supply to the Nandigram cluster of villages under struggle.

The 10th November public statement of West Bengal Governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi makes it clear that CPI (M) cadres blocked all ways leading to Nandigram from all the four sides. Mr Gandhi asks the administration ‘to remove the new unauthorized man-made blocks at entry points,’ to Nandigram. He pleads his ‘own Government’ to end the ‘isolation of Nandigram from the rest of the state.’ The statement enraged Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government which launched a frontal attack on the Governor while the Chief Minister continued to allow more and more intruders into Nandigram from outside the district.

The distinction between the state and the ruling political party (the main player in the Government) had disappeared in West Bengal long ago.

Nandigram Resistance: A brief recap

The heroic Nandigram struggle started on 3rd January when for the first time Lakhsaman Seth, as the chairman of Haldia Development Authority announced the setting up of an SEZ in the area. 10 months the people of Nandigram fought continuously and valiantly with and without arms resisting tooth and nail the acquisition of their fertile fields, hearths and homes. They forced the CPI (M) led West Bengal Government and Congress led UPA Government to take back their permissions and orders by closing down the SEZ project. The heroic struggle of Nandigram continued with women at the forefront. Hundreds of thousands of people spent sleepless nights preventing CPI (M) goons enter their villages. They have stood upto the challenge. They are continuing to fight. They don’t certainly have the kind of sophisticated arms as the CPI (M) has and the state power is pressed into action to suppress the resistance movement of Nandigram as it was being done by Modi in Gujarat in 2002 or the Congress in Delhi in 1984.

The writing on the wall in West Bengal today indicates that by the time CRPF will enter tomorrow evening, that is, 12th November, the ‘operation brutality’ will be completed. The Centre knows the brutalities and atrocities that have been perpetrated on the struggling people of Nandigram particularly in the past five days. UPA Government led by Manmohan Singh is giving complete support and abetting the Buddhadev Basu’s Government to massacre the struggling people as both the Governments share the same vision and they stand in support to each other. One shouldn’t be carried away by the mock opposition to Manmohan’s Nuclear deal by CPI (M) and the so-called Congress protest bandh call of West Bengal on 12th November opposing the massacre at Nandigram.

It may be true that the present resistance may be smashed. But the heroic fight of the people of Nandigram cannot be suppressed for ever. In no time the resistance will re-appear to end the three decades long fascist rule in West Bengal.

12th Nov 2007
Revolutionary Democratic Front of India

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