Leaflet from Maitree, a women’s rights network, on Nandigram

Maitree had taken the responsibility of campaigning for a day, on Friday, 7th December, 2007, at the temporary structure being called Dharna Mancha (in the Metro Channel, Kolkata). The following leaflet was distributed there. Several Maitree members took part in a 24 Hour fast, including Madhuchchanda Karlekar, Anuradha Kapoor, Swapna Banerjee, Saraswatidi, and Saswati Ghosh. There was also a mass collection of signatures condemning the violence, on a canvas. Other programmes of various kinds were also organized. A candlelight vigil was held in the evening. Cultural programmes and speeches were interspersed throughout the day.

In solidarity,
Soma Marik

Our Strong Condemnation of the Recent Violence in Nandigram

We, members of Maitree, a women’s rights network active in West Bengal for the last twelve years, are distraught and appalled by the events in and around Nandigram in West Bengal’s East Medinipur district over the past year.

We strongly condemn the manner in which the anti-socials of the dominant party in the ruling Left Front (CPI-M) attacked and assaulted the residents of Nandigram in order to re-establish their domination over the area since mid-October, with the explicit support of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Chief Minister, West Bengal, who has openly justified their actions. Until the time they re-established their control over the area, no one including journalists, activists, relief workers nor the CRPF were allowed to enter Nandigram, indicating that those who were perpetrating violence wanted to make sure that whatever was happening in Nandigram should not be brought out into the open.

We also condemn the politics of violence and rumour mongering by any political party – a politics of violence that has caused the death of many people, injured many, led to the eviction of many more, and that has created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Thousands of women, children and men have fled their homes with only the clothes on their backs and have been compelled to take shelter in relief camps. Many of their homes have been burnt and looted. Women have been the target of rape and sexual abuse and are terrified of returning home for fear that they may be raped or beaten up. Those who were able to, have sent young girls to their relatives homes outside Nandigram. We condemn this kind of violence on women.
The conditions of the relief camps are abysmal. Rations are meagre, people have no warm clothes and the administration has not been forthcoming with relief. The condition of children is especially deplorable since they are helpless victims of the politics of violence. They do not have an environment in which they can survive in a healthy way. They have been deprived of their right to education for almost a year. In addition, they will have to pay, for a long time, the price of the traumas that they have undergone.

We strongly denounce the violence in Nandigram and adjacent areas due to the complete failure and inaction of State Administration and demand

* An immediate end to State violence and normalisation of life and activity in Nandigram

* That peace is ensured for all at Nandigram, irrespective of their political affiliation

* That compensation be paid to all the families of those who were killed, and to those injured, raped or sexually assaulted

* That there must be an immediate halt to the victimisation of families of Nandigram who hold dissenting political viewpoints

* An immediate end to using rape and sexual assault on women as a tool of revenge.

* That enquiries and investigations are completed at the earliest, charges framed, speedy trials conducted and proper punishment is given to all those who are found guilty

* That adequate provisions are made for all those living in relief camps keeping in mind the specific needs of women and children

* Provisions are made for those living in relief camps to return home safely

* Provisions are made for rehabilitation and adequate compensation for all those who have lost their property and homes