Nandigram – November 2007 violence: Archives

Commentary from Sanhati:

Commentary from Sanhati: Nandigram, facts and myths. Articles by Debarshi Das, Saikat Bandyopadhyay, Suvarup Saha, Siddhartha Mitra, Partho Sarathi Roy

Citizens’ reports:

1. Nov. 20, 2007 – November in Nandigram – A detailed report from Nandigram by civil society team including Patkar

2. Nov. 30, 2007 – Interim Report by Womens’ Group

3. Our men or their men – nowhere men! – An eyewitness report from Khejuri, by Sahana Roy, Dept. of Applied Psychology, University of Calcutta

Photo and Video Coverage:

Paid back in the same coin:A montage of posters from the historic rally in Kolkata, November 14, 2007

Videos on Sanhati’s video page : http://sanhati.com/media/

Posters on Nandigram
by Saikat Bandyopadhyay

Petition appealing LF partners to withdraw

Petition : Appeal Left Front Partners to Withdraw from West Bengal State Government

Statement from Sanhati

Statement from Sanhati on ongoing Nandigram violence

Analytical Articles on the nature of the State and the “Left”

Nov. 15, 2007 – You are not what you were – Ashok Mitra on Nandigram, Translated by Debarshi Das, Sanhati.
Nov. 24, 2007 – Perspectives on Nandigram – articles from Dipankar Bhattacharya (Liberation), Mazdoor Mukti, and RDF
Nov. 23, 2007 – Nandigram: The Beating of Medha Patkar, and what it means for the Left
Nov. 28, 2007 – Has the Left taken one Right Turn too many? – By D. Bandyopadhyay
Nov. 24, 2007 – Nandigram and the Fight Against the War in Iraq – By Saroj Giri, Sanhati
Nov. 16, 2007 – Nandigram Redux: Reading Sudhanva Deshpande – By Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Kafila
Nov. 16, 2007 – Lifting the veil : Marichjhampi then, Nandigram now – By Jai Sen
Nov. 13, 2007 – Statement from Sumit Sarkar, Anand Patwardhan, Sandeep Pandey and other concerned citizens
Nov. 15, 2007 – Joto Mot Aktai Poth – Chandril Bhattacharya [PDF, Bengali]
Nov. 15, 2007 – Lessons from Nandigram’s Heroic Resistance – Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Countercurrents

Articles written to Chomsky, Tariq Ali, and others

Nov. 24, 2007 – Susan George withdraws her signature from statement issued by intellectuals on Nandigram
Nov. 21, 2007 – An Open Letter to Tariq Ali – By Kunal Chattopadhyay
Nov. 24, 2007 – Response to Chomsky et al. from Arundhati Roy, Sumit Sarkar, Saroj Giri and others
Nov. 22, 2007 – A pointwise rebuttal of Chomsky etc.’s statement on Nandigram – By Rajesh Ramakrishnan

Articles on development of events

Nov. 17, 2007 – Criminal face of a cognoscente – By Sankar Ray (contributed article)
Nov. 16, 2007 – Joe Bhattacharjee on the prowl – the CM’s veiled threats of “shutting the media down”
Nov. 16, 2007 – Power flows from gun & bottle – Encounter with Comrade X, a hooded hunter ( a The Telegraph report)
Nov. 16, 2007 – Court slams Bengal govt for Nandigram killings
Nov. 12, 2007 – (1) How CPM recaptured Nandigram – Guns, criminals, police, and party, (2) Arrest of students and intellectuals from peaceful rally: An eyewitness account, (3) Foul smell over Nandigram: A Dainik Statesman report , (4) Gujarat and Bangalore Solidarity: Concerned citizens and groups strongly condemn the recent incident of Nandigram
Nov. 11, 2007 – (1) 70 intellectuals arrested in Kolkata over Nandigram, (2) Esplanade – More than 100 people arrested from citizens’ procession
Nov. 10, 2007 – (1) Chhoto Angaria criminals caught smuggling out Nandigram victims, (2) RSP joins Medha Patkar, (3) Kshiti Goswami decides to resign over violence, Intellectuals boycott Film Fest, (4) Police arrest students at Nandan
Nov. 9, 2007 – (1) Press Release from Medha Patkar, 2-day fast announced following attack on activists
Nov. 8, 2007 – 30 people arrested in College Square, ambulance destroyed
Nov. 6, 2007 – (1) Cadres unleash violence, (2) Planned Attack : RSP Minister, (3) Lakshman Seth gives the call “kill or get killed”
Saviors of the World!

Messages of Solidarity

Nov. 19, 2007 – Bangalore Protests over Nandigram violence

Nov. 13, 2007 – (1) Mumbai Solidarity: Narmada Bachao Andolan and other groups demand justice in Nandigram, (2) Amnesty International report

Nov. 12, 2007 – Gujarat and Bangalore Solidarity: Concerned citizens and groups strongly condemn the recent incident of Nandigram

Articles above placed chronologically

Nov. 24, 2007 – Susan George withdraws her signature from statement issued by intellectuals on Nandigram
Nov. 24, 2007 – Nandigram and the Fight Against the War in Iraq – By Saroj Giri, Sanhati
Nov. 24, 2007 – Perspectives on Nandigram – articles from Dipankar Bhattacharya (Liberation), Mazdoor Mukti, and RDF
Nov. 24, 2007 – Response to Chomsky et al. from Arundhati Roy, Sumit Sarkar, Saroj Giri and others
Nov. 23, 2007 – Nandigram: The Beating of Medha Patkar
Nov. 22, 2007 – A pointwise rebuttal of Chomsky etc.’s statement on Nandigram – By Rajesh Ramakrishnan
Nov. 21, 2007 – An Open Letter to Tariq Ali – By Kunal Chattopadhyay
Nov. 20, 2007 – November in Nandigram – A detailed report from Nandigram by civil society team including Patkar
Nov. 17, 2007 – Criminal face of a cognoscente – By Sankar Ray (contributed article)
Nov. 16, 2007 – Nandigram Redux: Reading Sudhanva Deshpande – By Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Kafila
Nov. 16, 2007 – Lifting the veil : Marichjhampi then, Nandigram now – By Jai Sen
Nov. 16, 2007 – Joe Bhattacharjee on the prowl – the CM’s veiled threats of “shutting the media down”
Nov. 16, 2007 – Students protesting against Nandigram violence attacked by SFI
Nov. 16, 2007 – Power flows from gun & bottle – Encounter with Comrade X, a hooded hunter ( a The Telegraph report)
Nov. 16, 2007 – Terror in a microcosm – Taipara, Burdwan – the Party GRIP.
Nov. 16, 2007 – Court slams Bengal govt for Nandigram killings
Nov. 15, 2007 – (1) You are not what you were – Ashok Mitra on Nandigram, Translated by Debarshi Das, Sanhati. (2) Joto Mot Aktai Poth – Chandril Bhattacharya [PDF, Bengali] (3) Lessons from Nandigram’s Heroic Resistance – Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Countercurrents
Nov. 13, 2007 – (1) Mumbai Solidarity: Narmada Bachao Andolan and other groups demand justice in Nandigram, (2) Amnesty International report, (3) Statement from Sumit Sarkar, Anand Patwardhan, Sandeep Pandey and other concerned citizens
Nov. 12, 2007 – (1) How CPM recaptured Nandigram – Guns, criminals, police, and party, (2) Arrest of students and intellectuals from peaceful rally: An eyewitness account, (3) Foul smell over Nandigram: A Dainik Statesman report , (4) Gujarat and Bangalore Solidarity: Concerned citizens and groups strongly condemn the recent incident of Nandigram
Nov. 11, 2007 – (1) 70 intellectuals arrested in Kolkata over Nandigram, (2) Esplanade – More than 100 people arrested from citizens’ procession
Nov. 10, 2007 – (1) Chhoto Angaria criminals caught smuggling out Nandigram victims, (2) RSP joins Medha Patkar, (3) Kshiti Goswami decides to resign over violence, Intellectuals boycott Film Fest, (4) Police arrest students at Nandan
Nov. 9, 2007 – (1) Press Release from Medha Patkar, 2-day fast announced following attack on activists
Nov. 8, 2007 – 30 people arrested in College Square, ambulance destroyed
Nov. 6, 2007 – (1) Cadres unleash violence, (2) Planned Attack : RSP Minister, (3) Lakshman Seth gives the call “kill or get killed”
Saviors of the World!

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Statement from Sanhati on ongoing Nandigram violence
We are horrified by the barbaric attack being committed on the people of Nandigram by a veritable army of CPI(M) cadres and anti-social elements. In a clearly pre-planned move, co-ordinated with the West Bengal government, the CPI(M) is out to recapture what it identifies as lost territory, and to teach the people of Nandigram a lesson for originally resisting the attempt to acquire their lands for setting up an SEZ by the Salim group of Indonesia. The ongoing atrocities, which includes the surrounding of Nandigram from all sides, penetration by armed brigades of CPI(M) cadres, widespread firing, looting, destruction and burning of homes and eviction of thousands of people all signify this absolutely fascist move. The attackers have erected road-blocks all around Nandigram and have physically assaulted and prevented human rights workers and social activists from entering Nandigram, and have also prevented the injured from getting medical attention. More disturbingly, the police has remained a silent spectator at all places, suggesting direct abetment by the state government of West Bengal. This ongoing chain of events, which the CPI(M) is claiming to be in order for its displaced supporters to return to their homes in Nandigram, has been cleverly timed to coincide with the Kali puja/Diwali festivities so that peoples’ attention can be kept diverted from these crimes. However, this attempt has failed miserably as strong protests from all sections of people have already erupted in Kolkata, and further protests are planned in the days to come. We express our strong condemnation of these horrifying atrocities, being committed by the CPI(M) in collusion with the state government of West Bengal. We demand an immediate end to the ongoing operation to “recapture” Nandigram, allowing medical workers, journalists and human rights activists immediate access and peaceful return of all displaced people to their homes. We also appeal to all pro-people individuals and forces, such as human rights organizations, social activists, trade unions and all progressive political parties, including members of the Left Front, to unite to resist these brutalities being perpetrated by the CPI(M).

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Joe Bhattacharjee on the prowl – the CM’s veiled threats of “shutting the media down”

By Ravindra Kumar. A The Statesman report

In the wake of his party’s adventures in Nandigram, the Chief Minister of West Bengal has found it expedient to issue several outrageous statements. Perhaps the most shocking of these is that Bartaman, a widely-respected Bengali newspaper, has been provocative in the context of Nandigram during the past few months; that if it had been any other State, the government would have shut it down but that he, the Chief Minister, did not wish to dirty his hands by ordering such a shutdown.

Mr Bhattacharjee labours under several misconceptions, not the least of which is an exaggerated estimation of his own legal powers, a fact highlighted by the Calcutta High Court today in the context of the 14 March firings. Mere provocativeness does not militate against the Constitutional right to free speech; indeed it oftentimes embellishes it. But assuming a newspaper has been more than provocative, the law provides several remedies to an aggrieved party, such as a complaint to the Press Council of India or civil and criminal action for defamation.

The law does not however allow a government, any government, the power to shut down a newspaper and Mr Bhattacharjee’s assertion to the contrary is wholly misconceived. The Chief Minister may well believe that he has resisted the temptation to dirty his hands. He might, though, wish to reflect on the fact that by voicing his sentiments, he has done something far worse. Unexpectedly for a politician of such experience as he possesses, he has shown his hand.

Unlike the protections granted to the judiciary and legislatures, the law ~ anticipating perhaps the quality of rulers we would give ourselves ~ does not characterise contempt of an administrator, or of a Chief Minister, as a crime. Mr Bhattacharjee’s comment is beneath contempt, but it is ominous.

For implicit in the statement is the lament ~ a la Henry II ~ who will rid me of this troublesome newspaper? As cadre of his party has demonstrated so emphatically in Nandigram over the past few days, there may well be within the shadowy precincts of a building in Alimuddin Street many more than the four knights necessary for a dastardly deed.

While the law allows no means of shutting down a “provocative” newspaper, there are other ways to accomplish this. Newspaper vendors, many of them affiliated to the Centre for Indian Trade Unions and a part of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist, could claim unavailability of a particular newspaper and inject into households less provocative newspapers. The flow of government advertisement could be re-calibrated. Journalists of a provocative newspaper could be denied access. Tax regulations could be re-examined to target specific newspapers while creating exceptions to protect friendly ones. Government’s capacity for mischief is endless and matched only by its experience in inflicting mischief. By stating that he does not wish to dirty his hands, Mr. Bhattacharjee has telegraphed his intentions. The danger is both clear and present. The Press would do well to pay heed and do whatever it thinks it must to survive ~ either acquiesce as many newspapers have already done, or prepare to resist in such manner as the law permits, to protect the rights guaranteed to it by the Constitution.

The Stalinist we gave birth to, through an act of unimpassioned conception, is on the prowl and by Joe, the evidence of Nandigram suggests his bite is far worse than his bark.

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Nov. 16, 2007: Students protesting against Nandigram violence attacked by SFI

From the morning, around 20-30 PDSF members from various colleges in Kolkata were going on a Matador to various colleges in North Kolkata in order to raise awareness on Nandigram issue and also to collect funds for the victims. At around 2:30 pm, neas St. Paul’s College, the team was surrounded by a gang of 200 SFI goons from St. Pauls and Surendranath College and was severely beaten up.
After breaking the microphones & mouthpieces, the hooligans set the leaflets on fire and looted the collected money for Nandigram relief. Students of Presidency college, Medical college, Jadavpur University & others has condemned the incidence strongly. An FIR has been launched against the hooligans at Amherst Street police station. State President Sourav and many others are seriously injured and have been taken to Medical College Hospital for treatment. Press release from PDSF is awaited.

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Nov. 16, 2007- The Telegraph team travelled to Khejuri and met a member of the Red Brigade that recaptured Nandigram.

The nondescript hut stood next to the Talpati canal, a brand new motorcycle parked outside lending it an unexpected sheen. It was one of the Hero Hondas on which the hooded hunters had been roaring down Nandigram. It did not have a number plate.

A 24-year-old stout man was sitting on a mat, clad in black bermudas and T-shirt and a red flag wrapped around his forehead. A peek into a room, and there was more red — hundreds of flags carpeted the floor.

He was packing his clothes into a red bag, two country-made revolvers and ammunition lying next to him and around 20 bottles of whisky neatly piled up in a corner of the hut.

The CPM leader — our escort — signalled with his eyes that this was “our man”. He asked us to sit before hurriedly covering the revolvers and ammunition with a red flag.

“Apnader ki khobor kagaj (Which newspaper are you from)?” the man asked us, his breath filling the air with the stench of alcohol.

When we replied, he said: “Newspapers have written so much about Nandigram and our party. But we have been able to paint Nandigram red. There will not be any voice of dissent here.”

Asked where he was from — for he clearly was not from Nandigram — he stared at us for a few minutes. “That is none of your business. Have I asked about your whereabouts? My identity is my party and nothing else. We live for the party and die for it,” he said, picking up a mineral water bottle.

Are you returning home?

That stare again. Then he looked at the CPM leader and nodded.

“Our job is done. Most of the members of my group returned early today and I will go back by tomorrow,” he said.

Pointing to the hut, he said: “See, this is where 20 members of our group had been staying since last Saturday. This was our control room,” he said.

Asked whether they had anticipated resistance from the Opposition, he said: “We were all prepared this time and the party instructed us to recapture Nandigram at any cost. There was a huge amount of arms and ammunition at our disposal. We were given a time frame to execute the attack, and we were successful in our attempt. But the resistance was not as much we had thought,” he said.

Did his family know about his mission?

He paused for a moment. “No. I do not discuss all this with them. I got married last year and before leaving, I told my wife that the party has sought my services and that I was going to Calcutta. I told her I would return after a week. I spoke to her on the phone two days ago,” he said.

“I have been attached to the party over the past six years. Before leaving, our leader had a meeting with 20 cadres like me from my village and we were paid in advance for the job. He also assured us that the party would look after our families if we died for the its cause. We were each given a new motorcycle,” he said.

The words were flowing thick and fast now, the man seemed to be warming up to us. So, we quickly threw the next question at him — how much were you paid?

He smashed it right back. “Apnader ke onek kichhu bolechhi. Beshi kotha bolben na. (I have told you so many things. Do not talk too much),” he said and stood up.

Sensing that time was running out, we moved to the next question — was it fair for any party to kill people rather than protect them?

He frowned. “This is the problem with reporters. So many CPM people were rendered homeless and had been staying in refugee camps. The government had to ensure their return at any cost. Everything is fair when you are in power. Trinamul would have done the same thing if they were in power. It was a battle for survival,” he said.

“We do not want any opposition here. Whenever the party needs us, we will come back,” he signed off, before speeding off on his bike.

We walked to the other side of the Tekhali bridge, and a smile crossed the CPM leader’s lips. “Our cadres have bridged the gulf between Khejuri and Nandigram. It is so nice to see the red flags fluttering across the bridge,” he said.

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Nov. 16, 2007: Court slams Bengal govt for Nandigram killings – CNN-IBN news

For a detailed chronological account of the case up to this point, click here.

New Delhi: The Calcutta High Court hearing a PIL filed on the March 14 Nandigram killings on Friday rejected all arguments made by the West Bengal government.

Calling the police firing totally unconstitutional and avoidable, the court ordered the state government to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation for those killed in the violence and Rs 2 lakh to those raped and molested.

The court also directed CBI to continue the inquiry into the incident and submit a report in a month’s time.

The verdict comes a day after the High Court lawyers boycotted proceedings protesting the delay in giving the ruling.

News agency PTI quoted angry lawyers venting their anger. “We have boycotted the High Court because the hearing of the PIL filed by the High Court Bar Association on the March 14 Nandigram killing was over in July this year, but the Chief Justice has been delaying the verdict,” Secretary of HCBA Uttam Majumdar was quoted as saying.

Such was the agitation that the lawyers even took out a procession and demanded immediate action on the matter.

High Court sources told the agencies that the verdict was, in fact, to be delivered on Thursday itself but the death of a judge forced the postponement.

Meanwhile, the state government is trying to rally support on its role in Nandigram, but with little success.

While the intellectuals took to the street against the Nandigram violence on Wednesday, a CPI-M rally backed by government justified the violence.

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Nov. 13, 2007 – Statement from Sumit Sarkar, Anand Patwardhan, Sandeep Pandey and other concerned citizens

Statement from Concerned Citizens
On the Shameful Events in Nandigram in the last few days.

We the undersigned have been dismayed and revolted by the events of the past few days in and around Nandigram in West Bengal’s East Midinapur district. The manner in which the anti-socials of the dominant party in the ruling front attacked the residents to reestablish the domination over the area exposes the party’s lack of commitment to democratic values, principles and norms. The actions of these people under the benign indulgence of the State administration can only strengthen the criminalized and anti-democratic forces in our polity. For four days since the operation began the media and journalists have not been allowed to enter Nandigram, indicating that there is much to hide.

We condemn the assault by the anti-socials carrying the Red flag and functioning under the protection and encouragement of the ruling CPM on the group of reputed social activists, writers, intellectuals and artists led by Medha Patkar who were on a visit to Nandigram to find out first hand what was going on and express their solidarity with the hapless residents evicted from their hearths and homes. Not only were they prevented from entering Nandigram, they were subjected to physical violence and intimidation. The events in Nandigram are inconsistent with the norms of democratic functioning, claims of creating an alternative political culture and the traditions of Bengali culture.

We see in this the application of the so-called “Dum Dum dawai” that a senior CPM Polit-Bureau member approvingly advocated the other day. This is unfortunate since this slogan was coined as a part of the democratic resistance during the memorable food movement in the State in 1966, whereas it is now sought to be applied against the people themselves. All this is reflective of not just intolerance but a strong anti-democratic tendency in the dominant component of West Bengal’s ruling party today. What is happening in West Bengal today is indeed unprecedented in contemporary India and has doubtless besmirched the State’s rich history of democratic struggles so that even the Governor of West Bengal who has shown tremendous restraint has been pained to issue a statement against the unfolding events in the State.

We are dismayed at the attitude of the CPM’s State and Central leadership which not only did not rein in its cadres but did not deem it necessary or worthwhile to tender unqualified apology to the group led by Medha Patkar for the undemocratic actions of their cadres. This suggests that they are condoning such activity.

If such activities continue even for a day more it would be tantamount to the State government abdicating its constitutional responsibility and a break down of the constitutional functioning in the State.

We demand that the CPM leadership, both at the Centre and in the State immediately put a stop to the undemocratic actions let loose by their cadres.

We also demand that they convey their sincere apology to the people of Nandigram and to the group of citizens led by Medha Patkar that were trying to visit the area.

We demand a solemn assurance that such things will not recur in the days ahead.

We demand that the state government facilitate the visit of a fact finding team consisting of concerned citizens to visit the area.

We appeal to all democratic forces, representing various shades of opinion, to stand up and defend the very edifice of our democracy which is in peril by taking whatever action they can wherever they are (say, by sending copies of this statement (or one based on this) to the Chief Minister and the Governor and by holding demonstrations and protests on November 12th at 1 pm.

1. Sumit Chakravarty, Journalist.
2. Meher Engineer, Social Activist.
3. Prashant Bhushan, Lawyer
4. Arvind Kejriwal, Social Activist
5. Amit Bhaduri, JNU
6. Sumit Sarkar, Retd. Delhi University.
7. Manoranjan Mohanty, Delhi University.
8. Ramaswamy R. Iyer, Retd. Civil Servant
9. Madhu Bhaduri, Retd Ambassador
10. Achin Vanaik, Delhi University
11. Praful Bidwai, Journalist.
12. Arundhati Dhuru, Social Activist
13. Sandeep Pandey, Social Activist.
14. Thomas Kocherry, Social Activist.
15. Ambarish Rai, Social Activist.
16. Vijay Pratap, Social Activist
17. Yogendra Yadav, CSDS.
18. Sukumar Mukhopadhyay, Retd. Civil Servant
19. Vitusha Oberoi, Journalist
20. Mythili Bhusnurmath, Journalist
21. Rami Chabra, Social Activist.
22. Mira Shiva, Social Activist.
23. Mani Subramanian, Retd. Police Officer
24. Suhas Borkar, Social Activist.
25. Ashok Aggrawal, Lawyer.
26. Smitu Kothari, Social Activist.
27. Fr Cedric Prakash, Social Activist.
28. Dr. A.S. Ravindra Rao, Doctor.
29. Ms. Jayashree Rao, Businesswoman
30. Sukla Sen , Social Activist.
31. Mukta Shrivastava, Social Activist
32. Prasad Chacko, Social Activist.
33. Kalpana Mehta, Social Activist.
34. Atal Behari Sharma, Social Activist.
35. Gaurang Raval, Social Activist.
36. Kavita Das Gupta, Social Activist.
37. Nimmi Chauhan, Social Activist.
38. Meenakshi Ganguly, Social Activist.
39. Asit, Social Activist
40. Sauquat Hussain, Social activist
41. Satya Sivaraman, Social Activist
42. Jimmy Dabhi, Social Activist
43. Nityanand Jayaraman, Independent Journalist
44. Sunil Gupta, Social Activist.
45. Vijay Parmar, Social Activist.
46. Saurabha Bhattacharya, The Other Media.
47. Kalyani Menon-sen, Social Activist
48. Rudy Herdia, Social Activist.
49. Rasmi Ranjan, Advocate
50. Dhruva Narayan, Publisher
51. J Saikia, Academic, Assam
52. Arun K Bidani, Social Activist
53. Persis Ginwalla, Social Activist
54. Pradeep Gawande, Social Activist.
55. Arvind Shukla, Economist
56. Harish Dhawan, Delhi University.
57. Sunil Dharan, Delhi University.
58. Srijit Mishra, Economist.
59. Rohit Prasad, MDI.
60. N P Chaubey, Academic, Allahabad
61. R. C. Tripathi, Academic, Allahabad
62. T Karunakaran, Academic, Tamil Nadu.
63. Ghanshyam Shah, Academic, Ahmedabad
64. Mahendra Verma I.I.T. Kanpur
65. Rahul Varman, I. I. T. Kanpur
66. Sujata Patel, Academic, Pune
67. Romar Correa, Mumbai University
68. Anil Sadgopal, Delhi University.
69. B. Vivekanandan, Formerly in JNU.
70. Saumen Chattopadhyaya, JNU.
71. Ritu Priya Mehrotra, JNU
72. Krishnendu Dastidar, JNU
73. Avijit Pathak, JNU
74. Shashi Kant Jha, JNU
75. Sudhir Vombatkere,NAPM
76. Pradipta Chaudhury, JNU
77. Satish Jain, JNU
78. Anjan Mukherji, JNU
79. Promod Yadav, JNU
80. Alokesh Barua, JNU
81. Birendra Nath Mallick, JNU.
82. Arun Kumar, JNU
83. Sridevi Panikkar, Delhi Solidarity Group
84. Thomas Kocherry, NFF
85. Geetha Ramakrishnan, NCC-USW
86. Sanjay M.G, NAPM
87. Gabriele D, NAPM
88. Sister Celia, NAPM
89. Anand Patwardhan, Film Maker
90. Suniti S.R, NAPM
91. Simpreet Singh, NAPM
92. Vijayan MJ, Delhi Forum
93. (Rt. Major General) Sudhir Vombetkere
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Nov. 13, 2007 – Amnesty International concerned over reports of state officials being complicit in Nandigram violence

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Public Statement

AI Index: ASA 20/020/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 217
9 November 2007

India: Need for effective investigations and prosecutions as political violence continues in West Bengal
Amnesty International is concerned at reports of an upsurge in political violence since 6 November in Nandigram, eastern Midnapore (West Bengal), which has led to at least nine deaths, more than 15 persons injured and the displacement of hundreds of local inhabitants.

Amnesty International is particularly concerned at reports that state officials may have been complicit in attacks on farmers belonging to the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC — Anti Displacement Committee) — an organization formed in late 2006 to protest against their [?] possible displacement due to planned construction of a industrial project in the area. Read the full statement

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Nov. 13, 2007 – Solidarity for Nandigram from Mumbai: Narmada Bachao Andolan and other groups

The juggernaut of development threatens to roll on and on!
From Narmada to Nandigarm, Mumbai to Kashipur. No respite, no regard – for human lives and livelihoods! Corporate profit is the only thing that counts! Nothing else matters!
That’s why the struggle of WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA is indivisible! From Narmada to Nandigarm, Mumbai to Kalinganagar!
The history of resistance – against “development”, against “SEZ”, against “Sanghai”, against “big dams”, against forced eviction, against further pauperisation of the already poor, is thus being written all over the place in the blood and sweat of ours.

Nandigram is a burning leaf, still burning, from the pages of that ongoing history.
It is in a remote corner of West Bengal in East Medinipur district, 180 kms. From Kolkata. On January 3 this year a notification was issued by the Haldia Development Authority indicating that 19000 acres of cultivated land would be acquired for establishment of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the area to be developed mainly by the Salim group of Indonesia as a chemical hub. But the villagers of Nandigram protested and refused to budge and all hell broke loose. On March 14 the police came, and came the CPIM cadres from outside, to raid the villages. The villagers were fired upon. Official death toll stood at 14. But still the villagers refused to budge. And because of High Court intervention the raiders had to turn back. After a relative lull of about 8 months, large gangs of professional mercenaries came down heavily on the area on Nov. 5 early morning from all the sides to recapture Nandigram with sophisticated arms – gunning down people, burning huts, looting and raping. The state machinery deliberately looking the other way chillingly mimicking, in fact even surpassing, what had happened in Gujarat in early 2002. Roads were blocked. Journalists were stopped. So were social and political activists. Prominent and well-known respected figures were publicly roughed up.
The mayhem is still on. However, the operation recapture got virtually over in about a week. Thousands stand evicted, tens killed, innumerable huts burnt, women raped.

Under the circumstances, we the people of Mumbai voice our strongest protest against the state-sponsored mafia-raj, the rule of jungle in Nandigram.
We all demand that the West Bengal government must immediately:
I. Halt all violence, overt and covert.
II. Provide relief and rehabilitation for all those affected and full reparations for all the damages/losses caused.
III. Arrange a meeting involving all stakeholders including both political parties and non-party people’s organisations.
IV. Put in place an inclusive people’s committee representing all sections of the concerned people out of that meeting to monitor and oversee the measures to restore peace
V. Conduct an open credible enquiry into the violence perpetrated and punish the guilty. Fix the responsibility of state officials for dereliction of duties including those at the highest levels.

National Alliance of People’s Movements, Shahar Vikas Manch, Gha Banao Ghar bachao Andolan, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Sarvahara Jan Andolan, Chemical Majdoor Sabha, Shramik Janata Sanghatan, Build, Focus on The Global South, Akshara Centre, Awash Adhikar Sanyukt Kriti Samiti, Nirbhay Bano Andolan, Yuva, Yuva Manch, Samata Vichar Prasarak Sansatha, India Centre for Human Rights and Law, Committee for Right to Housing, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity) and others.
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Nov. 12, 2007 – Concerned Citizens of Gujarat and Bangalore strongly condemn the recent incident of Nandigram

Bangalore : People from all walks of life protested against the fresh violence at Nandigram. Ranging from scientists, professors, IT Personnel, Theater personalities, Showbiz people and students participated in a “Sit-Down” at Brigade Road, Bangalore. The protest, under the banner of “MASUM” (Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch) ran for six hours. A lot of local people inquired about the issue in the gathering.

PRESS RELEASE FROM GUJARAT

DATE: 12th November 2007

We, the Concerned Citizens of Gujarat strongly condemn the recent incident of Nandigram. What has happened there is utterly deplorable and unforgivable. We firmly believe that the “mainstream left” and its Government have ‘left’ the concept of land reform and entered into State Repression in the earnest.

We urge all the progressive groups and individuals to support the people of Nandigram, condemn the repressive Government of West Bengal and also expose the hypocrisy of the TMC, Congress, and BJP.

We, the Concerned Citizens of Gujarat strongly condemn the recent incident of Nandigram. What has happened there is utterly deplorable and unforgivable. We firmly believe that the “mainstream left” and its Government have ‘left’ the concept of land reform and entered into State Repression in the earnest. West Bengal State Government is terrorizing people in the name of bringing in so-called development.

We strongly condemn the repressive West Bengal State and CPM led Government which had turned Nandigram into a virtual war zone since 3rd January 2007.

The Buddhadev Bhattacharjee Government is determined to conquer Bengal for globalization. For this, it is willing to go to any extent and adopt any possible means. Even the versatile spokesperson of CPI (M) Mr. Sitaram Yechury was visibly bashful when he appeared on television while explaining the recent incident of Nandigram and inexcusable extreme tactics used by his “Left Government”.

Though the CPI (M) had originally come to power as so-called champions of workers and peasants’ rights, its social democratism seems to have involved a degree of institutionalization of their claims within the bourgeois framework. Today, to halt and reverse that calls for substantial use of brutal force by using personnel in uniform and without uniform.

We would like to make it crystal clear that we do not endorse the actions of all those opposing this process of land grabbing. The Trinamool Congress is part of the NDA, the coalition that at the national level first brought forward the idea of having SEZs. The Trinamool Congress is also responsible for misdeeds of the NDA government, including its silence during the pogroms in Gujarat in 2002. We obviously oppose the drama of BJP and Congress for their so-called opposition to violence in Nandigram. We therefore do not support moves launched by the TMC, Congress, and BJP as it is not really concerned with the people’s plight but is using the occasion to get political mileage.

What is going on in Nandigram is undemocratic, criminal and also inhuman and a pogrom to remove all citizens who wish to lead a life of their choice which differs from that propounded by the state government. People on both sides are losing lives while property and livelihood in the area is irreversibly damaged. We urge all the progressive groups and individuals to support the people of Nandigram, condemn the repressive Government of West Bengal and also expose the hypocrisy of the TMC, Congress, and BJP.

Swati Desai – National Alliance of People’s Movement, Gujarat.
Anand M azgaonkar – National Alliance of People’s M ovement, Gujarat.
Rohit P rajapati – Radical Politics, Gujarat.
Rajnibhai D ave – Editor, Bhumiputra, Gujarat.
Prakash S hah – Editor, Nirikshak
Michael M azgaonkar – Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti.
Sudarshan I yangar, – Gujarat Vidhyapith
Chunibhai V aidya – Lok Swaraj Samiti
Trupti S hah – Sahiyar (Stree Sanghthan) Gujarat
Varsha G anguly
Lalji D esai – Baag, Gujarat
Maldhari Jan Andolan
Xavier M anjooran, – Rajpipla Social Service Society
Dwarika Nath Rath – SUCI
Marag
Azad Vishtar Sangathan, Patadi
Nayana S hah – Gandhi Peace Foundation
Behavioural Science Centre, Ahmedabad
Badribhai J oshi, – Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal
Mahesh Pandya, Hiral Mehta – Paryavaran Mitra
Parul D andikar – Manviya Technology Forum
Movement for Secular Democracy
Jyotibhai Desai

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Nov. 12, 2007 – Foul smell over Nandigram: A Dainik Statesman report

Nandigram Free from Terrorists: CPM
by Sukumar Mitra
(Article translated from Bengali by Bithi Bera)

Nandigram, 11-11-07

As the CRPF reached Tamluk Sunday afternoon, the CPM is trying to complete the capture of 17 blocks before their arrival here. After Sunset, they captured people from Nandigram and Garchakraberia, tied their hands in their back, and made them stand in a line. From behind this human shield, they attacked Nandigram, Gokulnagar, Kalicharanpur, Sonachura and Kendemari, by shooting and throwing bombs, from Khejuri, Bhangabera and Tekhali bridge. In order to complete their capture, the CPM stopped the 2 CRPF vehicles near Reapara. The CRPF have returned to Chandipur.
Nandigram was sealed from Sunday morning. Journalists from Dainik Statesman, Bartaman and other newspapers were denied entry, while those from Ganashakti and two others were allowed inside.

BUPC got news yesterday night around 9 PM that CPM have sent 15 bodies in black polybags to Belda, West Midnapur. They afterwards recognized and caught Tapan Ghosh and Sukur Ali on that road near Egra. During the night, the CPM started to burn the dead bodies at the Janani brick kiln at Serkachowk. The smell of burnt flesh spread all over Nandigram.

Lakshman Seth celebrated the event by firing crakers and fireworks the whole night. At the same time, only one sound could be heard on the other side of the river: crying, weeping and funeral rites.

Sunday from 11 AM, CPM cadres starting from Khejuri, Mansibel, Chunpiri and Tulaghata, attacked Nandigram, Gokulnagar and Sonachura by shooting and throwing bombs.

At the same time, the police went out of the police station in an attempt to liberate the prisoners held at Khejuri. However, they were attacked on their way by CPM near Amgachia, and retreated back without responding.

The Officer in Charge was sitting in Nandigram police station from 6 AM. He was returning home to Garchakraberia when he was accosted by two BUPC leaders, Sheikh Supiyan and Abu Taher, crying and weeping. They asked him: “Where are you going, why are you going?” The officer, Mr. Debasis Boral replied: “I will see what I can do” and headed towards Tekhali. But on reaching Amgachia, he was attacked by the CPM and returned.

At 11:35 AM, Anjan Das Adhikari from Adhikaripara told by phone: “Everything is finished”. Balaram Das from Sonachura told that CPM cadres captured his brother Abhiram Das and kept him prisoner in Khejuri.

At 1:15 PM, I was standing in Nandigram when a motorcycle came very fast from Gokulnagar. The driver, Shadesh Das Adhikari, was alone and fell down when he tried to stop the motorcycle. He was crying, I had never seen him so terrorised during the last 11
months. He told me that he had narrowly escaped death, but had been unable to protect anyone else. “Maybe they are dead now. Everything is finished”, he told. “They are shooting and throwing bombs on Adhikaripara from 3 sides. The attackers had in their hands Insas, Meghna, SLR, automatic rifles, AK-47 and bags full of bombs”, he added.

At 3 PM, I got knews that one CPM group entered Sonachura through Southkalibazar and was attacking Garchakraberia. Thousands of people were fleeing from their houses and seeking shelter in Nandigram. CPM captured Sonachura, Gangra, Gokulnagar one by one.

At 6 PM they also captured Garchakraberia. They didn’t keep a single house standing. The house of Congress District Secretary Milon Pradhan was burnt and his father was captured and taken as a prisoner to Khejuri.

Dainik Statesman, 12th November 2007
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Nov. 12, 2007 – Arrest of students and intellectuals from peaceful rally: An eyewitness account

-Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti

This is a first hand account of what happened at the peaceful rally of artistes, intellectuals, writers, painters, journalists activists in front of Nandan yesterday (Nov 11, 2007). The rally was held to let people know that we are boycotting the Kolkata Film Festival (which is state run) in protest against the Nandigram killings. There were about two hundred of us who started the rally from the protest manch of Medha Patkar at Esplanade, opposite Metro Cinema. There was painter Shuvoprasanna, Samir Aich, Suman Mukherjee, Supriyo Sen, Joy Goswami amongst others. We were carrying posters and banners and singing songs, when we were stopped by a huge force at Park Street. They had put up a barricade and asked us to go back. We tried talking to them to find out why we were being stopped. We were not armed, or violent. We only meant to walk peacefully upto Nandan. We were told that we will not be allowed to reach Nandan under any circumstances. So we squatted there on the road for a while. Then we went back and formed a human chain to stop all traffic. And then eventually we decided to leave for Nandan in threes and fours, where another group was waiting for us.

We reassembled at Academy of Fine Arts where Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh, Shankho Ghosh (poet), Anjan Dutt and a host of other personalities joined us. Now we had a larger group and we signed a boycott statement. And then we started walking towards Nandan (the main venue of the festival) (which is next to Academy) As we walked about twenty steps or so, we were stopped again by the police. They were accompanied by RAF who stood menacingly with their batons. There were quite a few police vans waiting and we could make out that we were going to be arrested. Shuvaprasanna, the seniormost person, tried talking to the police. They told us clearly that we have to leave the place. We decided to squat on the road and sing songs. After a while two senior officers came in and told us that if we do not leave immediately, we would be arrested. They started by arresting four young students, who were beaten up ruthlessly and whisked away in a van. Now we all went forward and demaned that they release the boys immediately. Otherwise they have to arrest all of us. On this they started pushing us with the help of RAF.

Shuvaprasanna was badly heckled and they started using the stick. And then they started pushing us into the vans. We were taken to the central lockup of Lalbazar (police headquarters) where about sixty of us were kept in one cell, There were about 10 or 12 women amongst us. We instantly called up all our friends and informed them of the situation. Fortunately all this had also been shown live on most of the local tv channels. So there was a major public furore. Thousands of people stormed Lalbazar to get us relaesed, and they had to lock all their gates.

We were arrested at around 4.30 pm. By 5.30 pm Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghosh, Shankho Ghosh, Bibhash Chakraborti and Sujato Bhadro had forced their way into Lalbazar and managed to get us out by signing personal bailbonds (under section 151). By the time we were let out it was nearly 9.30 pm. There was a big crowd waiting for us outside with candles.

After this incident, all the people that I know have refused to be part of the festival. Many of our friends have withdrawn their films. The city is seething with anger, and the government has completely discredited itself.

Read Sangbad Pratidin report, reactions of poet Joy Goswami playwright Bratya Basu, stage actor Koushik Sen.
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Nov. 12, 2007 – How CPM recaptured Nandigram

MIDNAPORE/KOLKATA: The plan to recapture Nandigram was drawn two weeks back in a meeting between two top CPM leaders from East and West Midnapore. An MP from East Midnapore and a state minister from West Midnapore were also present at the meet. The main point of discussion was how to bring back Nandigram, out of bounds for CPM supporters for the last 11 months. Armed men were used from at least three districts — West Midnapore, Bankura and North 24 Parganas — for ‘Operation Nandigram’ to flush out the opposition.

The first attempt to re-enter the villages and oust Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee supporters, who had held fort since early 2007, was made on March 14. The operation was conducted mainly by state police and did not bring the desired result. CPM had to go on the backfoot following widespread protests after the March 14 massacre. Since then no CPM leader has been able to set foot in Nandigram.

The party’s East Midnapore district unit was under pressure from its supporters in Nandigram who were forced to flee to Khejuri. Despite the talks of peace and aborted attempts to make the refugees return to the villages in small number, the guns along the Nandigram-Khejuri border were hardly ever silent. Leaders from both the districts had to set aside their differences to sort out the problem. CPM could not afford to let Nandigram remain out of its control till next year’s panchayat polls.

Also, the West Midnapore district unit has the experience of leading such an operation — Keshpur — in 2000. On November 4, local DYFI unit held a meeting at Heria (close to Khejuri) where it pledged to send back its homeless supporters to their villages. Two days before that, the process of withdrawing police from the troubles spot had already started.

Cadres — local criminals mostly involved in dacoity cases — for the operation were drawn from Chandrakona and Garbeta zonal committees. Also, cadres were sent from Narayangarh and Keshiary areas. Another group of around 250 armed CPM supporters and criminals came from the villages of Punishol at Onda and Rajpur, Taldangra in Bankura.

Sources said criminals were given money in advance and given a free-hand to bring whatever they could from the empty homes once the operation is complete. Sources said one such group that has returned to Onda came with motorcycles.

The Bankura group reached Nandigram after travelling by train and then road. The group boarded trains and allegedly got off at Balichak, four stations after Kharagpur, and then headed towards Nandigram via Khejuri in the guise of daily wage earners. They take the same disguise when they go to Bihar and Jharkhand to collect arms, sources said.

Most of these people are suspected to be running arms smuggling rackets. The arms used in the recapture operation are believed to have been supplied from these suppliers.

Another cache of arms came from Purulia where party workers had received arms to combat Maoists. It is also suspected that the arms gone missing after the Purulia arms drop are with CPM supporters and were smuggled to Nandigram.

The coal mafia from Burdwan is also believed to have played a key role in the operation. The money from the mafia is believed to have supplied funds for the operation, helped in procuring ammunition and hire vehicles that carried the armed men to the interior areas as the attack progressed.

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November 11, 70 intellectuals arrested in Kolkata over Nandigram

At least 70 intellectuals were arrested by police on Sunday for protesting against the violence perpetrated in Nandigram by the Communist Party of India-Marxist activists and calling for a boycott of the 13th Kolkata Film Festival…. “We were singing revolutionary songs protesting the bloodshed perpetrated in Nandigram by the CPM cadres in their effort to reclaim the lost land. Suddenly, the police came and tried to stop us and then arrested us and forcibly packed us off in police vans.” Read more.

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November 11, Esplanade – More than 100 people arrested from citizens’ procession

A peaceful procession of citizens and some artists/intellectuals was moving towards academy of fine arts from Medha Patkar’s hunger strike platform at Metro. The procession was stopped at Park Street crossing and there was an exchange of words between the police and the persons leading the procession. The procession was not allowed to proceed and after sometime the procession turned back towards Medha Patkar’s platform and they formed a human chain across Esplanade crossing.

At about 3.15 pm news reached Medha Patkar’s platform through cell phone that police had come down heavily on some artists/intellectuals/citizens (among them Joy Goswami,Shuvaprosonno,Pallab Kirtaniya) who had somehow made it to Academy of Fine Arts/Nandan and they were seeking help from Medha’s platform. immediately there was a murmur and restlessness all around and the organisers decided that at least half the gathering at Metro should proceed towards Academy/Nandan. Students from CCSM and other groups were in the forefront of the procession.

With the procession reaching Academy/Nandan things heated up and police went into action. They used mild force and arrested more than 100 people amongs whom there were many Congress and TMC supporters along with artists, intellectuals, citizens and students. The arrested were taken to Lalbazar and very soon the processionists followed and some artists llike Aparna Sen, Bibhash Chakraborty, Gautam Ghose joined them at Lalbazar gates. Everyone was stopped at the gates and Bibhash Chakraborty, Aparna Sen, Sujato Bhadra were allowed in. After some time they came out and anounced to the media that the arrested had been arrested against bond.

The Mini Front’s meeting : The entire blame for Nandigram situation has been placed on CPM’s shoulders. They have also requested Kshiti Goswami to reconsider his decision.

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Absconding Chhoto-Angaria accused caught fleeing with Nandigram victims

MIDNAPORE, Nov. 10: Two prime accused in the 2001 Chhota Angaria mass killings wanted by the CBI ~ Tapan Ghosh and Sukur Ali ~ were among eight persons arrested in Egra today while fleeing in an ambulance and three other vehicles with three BUPC members injured in Nandigram whom they had abducted, alleged Trinamul MLA for Egra Mr Sisir Adhikary. He said one of the cars belonged to the Khejuri panchayat committee (WB29 3500) and bore a state government sticker. Ghosh, a CPI-M Midnapore (W) district committee member, and Sukur Ali were intercepted by locals this evening. Mr Adhikary said one of the injured persons was a 65-year-old woman whose cries were heard by residents when the ambulance carrying her was passing by. The IG (law & order) confirmed the arrest of eight persons in Egra but declined to give details. A CBI team has left for Egra to arrest the duo.
– A The Statesman report


Police swoops down on students, pre-emptive arrests made at Nandan

Parag (PDSF secretary), Jishnu (CCSM convenor), Dwaipayan, Ranajay, Bodhisattva, Pradip Banerjee (KJRC cnvenor) and others have been arrested from the premises of Nandan. They were first taken to the Maidan and then to the Lalbazar central lock up. They will be taken to the special court tomorrow. Police described this as a “preventive arrest”. Such pre-emptive arrests of democratic voices are sure signs of a totalatarian party-police apparatus at work, which will stop at nothing to muffle out voices of protest.


Kshiti Goswami resigns over Nandigram violence

Dealing a blow to the ruling Left Front, West Bengal PWD minister and RSP leader Kshiti Goswami decided not to continue in the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee cabinet and sought his party’s permission to resign over continuing violence in Nandigram. Asked about his reason to resign, he stated, “I protested against violence which has been continuing for the past ten months and the government had enough time to act, but it was not sincere.”


November 10, 2007 – RSP joins Medha Patkar’s dharna mancha, intellectuals boycott Film Fest

RSP has joined to the ‘dharna mancha’ of Medha Patekar, which is going on at Esplanade. Kshiti Goswami expressed his wish to his party to resign from minister-ship. Mamata Banerjee has resigned from her MP post. Several renowned artists and intellectuals like Aparna Sen, Chidananda Dasgupta, Rituparna Ghosh, Bibhas Chakroborty have announced a boycott of the ongoing Film Fest. Congress and SUCI have announced Bangla Bandh on 12th Nov. Mamata Banerjee has announced an ”indefinite Bangla collapse” programme from the same day. Reaction of civil society is steadily increasing.


November 10, 2007 – Huge protest rally in Nandigram, 5 (10-12 unofficial) dead in police firing

A huge protest-rally of 10,000 people started roaring at Nandigram just a few hours ago. This “come back” of the people of Nandigram was totally unexpected to the CPM. Out of desparation, CPM cadres started firing on the rally. Till now, the death of 5 protesters has been announced officially. Unofficial reports put the toll at 10-12. A lot of bullet-injured people are admitted to Nandigram Health Centre.

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9th November, 2007 – Nandigram Under Fire – Press Release from Medha Patkar

· Thousands Forced to Flee from Nandigram, Activists Under Arrest
· Memorandum Submitted to Governor of West Bengal
· Dharna begins in Kolkata, Two Day Protest Fast to Commence Tomorrow

Nandigram is under fire and scare. On the festive days of Kalipuja, the light emerging from the land of Martyrdom is not of the lamps women would light in their ‘badis’ (houses) but from the burning houses, put on fire by cadres entering village after village and occupying land forcibly.

The reports coming from the land and the citizens as members of the Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee indicate that AT LEAST 20,000 FAMILIES ARE MADE TO FLEE FROM THEIR HOUSES IN SATANGABARI, SAMSABAD AND OTHER VILLAGES which are either demolished or looted. We met Taslimadi in Kapasberia with Minudi, who have taken shelter in their relatives’ houses. But the tears in their eyes and choked voices brought to us the pain and anguish for being made destitute and homeless which could not be hidden. While thousands of families and more than a lakh people have shifted either to the schools and other public buildings, or to the open grounds where huge camps are set up by the committee where most of the people are being fed, if not left hungry.

Tens of people, from the villages that laid their lives for land in 2007, the very year of remembering of Gandhiji’s Satyagraha, the Martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and 150 years of the Sepoy Mutiny, saw their victory in the cancellation of the Chemical hub to be brought on the lush green land in Nandigram, East Midnapore. But that was not all. They are facing worse of the battles, a war. Beyond throwing small bombs, firing across the Khaals (naalas) and rivulets, demolishing 60 houses in Satangabari (May 2007) and such other attacks threatening and targeting villagers; boycott of labourers and hawkers going to work and customers going to nearby market is also a serious concern. Resistance to this also became violent, as people and some of the supporting social and political activists claimed that they could not survive without it.

A new phase began, with steady increase in the large number of persons, known to be Harmad Vahini, CPI (M) cadres, and an open attack on the houses and villages and also persons, started in October. Persons of both sides seem to have been killed but no one is sure of the final tally. The information from the area was in parts and parcels and delayed but now it’s clear that CPI(M) cadres from outside the area, as they are identified with goons, have been marching, beating, hitting ……. forcibly occupying territory. News conveyed and flashed clearly indicate that Satangabari, Samsabad, Sonachura and few other villages are partially or fully vacated, occupied and houses looted and damaged, even burnt. Beyond this, the total picture of the fight going on among the unequal forces is not coming out but it’s certain that unlike what is presented from the ruling quarters in West Bengal, there is no infiltration of Maoists that has caused all this. There may be a handful of activists belonging to various ideologies – Gandhian to Maoism – reaching Nandigram, but we have not doubt that the battle was started, led and is carried forward by the local residents, women, men youth and children included.

We know that hundreds and hundreds of families have been left without livelihoods who are only crying halt to snatch away their and, asserting their rights but also appealing for peace. They, in thousands, are innocent, they are challenged but they are committed even to lay their lives but not bent or submit. They are beyond party lines, accepting the leadership of Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee with representatives of villages’ communities, peoples’ organisations such as Gana-unnayan and Jana-adhikar Raksha Samiti and also local residents representing SUCI, TMC, PDCI and Congress as parties and Jamait-e-Ulema- i-Hind. This must be understood by all.

What is going on in Nandigram is undemocratic, criminal and also inhuman. People on both sides are losing lives while property and livelihood in the area is irreversibly damaged. This is unacceptable.

The West Bengal Government has been repeatedly appealed by various organisations, to control the situation by compelling the CPI (M) cadres to withdraw the siege and stop forcible entry and occupation, but to no avail. THE POLICE, INCLUDING SENIOR OFFICIALS, SEEM TO BE INACTIVE AND APATHETIC AS PER ORDERS AND UNDER THE POLITICAL CONTROL OF LAKSHMAN SETH, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND CHAIRMAN OF HALDIA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY.

It is all these which necessitates an urgent intervention by not only the Central Government, the Home Ministry but also the Constitutional authorities and the National Human Rights Commission, to say the least.

IT WAS EXACTLY TO HIDE THIS AND PREVENT AN EXPOSURE THAT THE WEST BENGAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT PERMITTING THE MEDIA PERSONS , except those who could somehow manage.

We, representatives of Peoples’ Movements, Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti and New Trade Union initiatives, NAPM, APDR, Forum of Artistes and Intellectuals, Teachers and Scientists’ forums, representatives from SUCI including Tarun Sanyal, Sunondo Sanyal, Tarun Naskar, Sujata Bhadra, Meher Engineer, Amit Bhattacharya, Debaprosad Sarkar(MLA), Anuradha Talwar ,Swapan Ganguly and Medha Patkar, decided to visit Nandigram on being invited through repeated calls and messages from the people facing the onslaught.

Yesterday, November 8th 2007, we proceeded towards Nandigram accompanied by tens of policemen and officials, who warned us of security problems but alsoassured us of being there to protect. On their conveying to us a possibility of having a dialogue with the Chief Minister or Chief Secretary in the Government, we agreed to hold the dialogue after visiting the area and assessing the situation there. We took the Haldia route instead of the route we took earlier, where CPI (M) cadres had stopped us.

We reached Kapasberia More at about 12:30 p.m. A gathering of 30-40 CPI (M) cadres with Red flags stopped our convoy and started shouting abusive slogans against us. Interestingly the police pilot car leading the convoy stepped aside and made way for the goons so that they can have a free hand on us. A few cadres specifically targeted Medha Patkar, Tarun Sanyal, Debjit, Deboprosad Sarkar and Meher Engineer as well as a few media persons in other vehicles. They started attacking Medha Patkar with fists, violently pulling her out of the car by holding her hair and Sari. They broke the specks of Debjit and partly tore the clothes of Sunondo Sanyal. They also broke the camera of a media person.

All the while, the cadres were encircling all the cars (except the police ones) and breaking the glass panes, shouted abusive and filthy languages to all of us. Even at this point, police chose to be silent spectators who are watching some fun for free. Five vehicles were able to turn back and move a few yards. One sumo car (WB 02H – 4402), carrying Meher Engineer, Amit Bhattacharya and Hindustan Times reporter Alok Banerjee, was severely damaged and the passengers including Alok Banerjee were badly beaten in this unprecedented act of violence by CPI(M) terrorists. The driver somehow managed to move forward towards Kapasberia School where the local residents gave the passengers first aid. Medha Patkar and others began to stage Dharna on the Kapasberia bridge and had a protest sit-in for 3 hours and more. We handed over a letter addressed to the Superintendent of Police and asked to make way for our visit to Nandigram and to book the attackers under law.

Local residents came out in large numbers and showed their support and solidarity towards us and to the struggle of common people of Nandigram and condemned the CPI (M) attack on us. They also condemned the deliberate and directed police inaction. Subsequently we lodged two complaints with the local Mahishadal Police Station, one relating to breaking down of the above mentioned Sumo car, and the other regarding the physical attack on Medha Patkar, Deboprosad Sarkar (MLA) and others by CPI (M) cadres. We returned to Mecheda for further action where Medha Patkar and Tarun Sanyal addressed the local residents.

· We condemn such undemocratic and criminal tendencies by the ruling party and demand as free and concerned citizens of India as well as representatives of peoples’ movements that we should be allowed to visit Nandigram where more than a lakh people have become homeless and need our immediate support and relief.

· We are shocked by the apathy, inaction and both direct and indirect support of the police to the CPI (M) hooligans, indicating a break-down of State Machinery resulting in non-availability of any channel for security and redressal of grievances of common people.

· We urge an urgent intervention by the Governor of West Bengal as well as the Union Government of India to open up Nandigram by ensuring withdrawal of siege and stopping outsider-attackers from entering Nandigram.

· We demand that peaceful defenders of Human Rights’ belonging to known Peoples’ organisations should be allowed and protected and their entry to Nandigram area should be facilitated.

· We hope that all concerned and progressive citizens, civil organisations as well as political parties will protest against the onslaught on Nandigram, forcible occupation of their territory and violation of basic human rights and civil liberties, compelling the Constitutional authorities and government to intervene in this battle between the State and people for freedom, democracy, right to life and livelihood.

Latest News:

1. Three People including Sadikulla from Jamat-e-Ulema- Hind, Schoota Das and Samar Das, have been arrested while going towards Nandigram today.

2. Activists and intellectuals including Medha Patkar met the governor today and submitted the memorandum to ensure the freedom of the people of Nandigram and also the protection of their Constitutional rights.

3. People across India have written to the WB government condemning the attack and the situation in Nandigram.

4. DHARNA (SIT IN) HAS BEGUN IN KOLKATA TODAY, IN WHICH PEOPLE FROM VARIOUS ORGANISATIONS AND ACTIVISTS INCLUDING MEDHA PATKAR ARE PARTICIPATING . A TWO DAY PROTEST FAST WILL COMMENCE TOMORROW.

Press Conference

THERE WILL BE A PRESS CONFERENCE AT 3.00 P.M. TODAY, DEMANDING THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ARRESTED ACTIVISTS AND BRINGING NORMALCY IN NANDIGRAM.

Sukhendu Bhattacharya – Sanhati Udyog/NAPM

Anuradha Talwar – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti/NTUI

Sujato Bhadra- APDR

Tarun Naskar/ Dilip Chakraborty- Forum of Artists and intellectuals

Meher Engineer- Teachers’ and Scientists’ Forum

Shyam Bihari Singh- Janata Dal (Secular)

Kartik Pal- CPI (ML) Liberation

Shaktiman Ghosh- National Hawkers’ Federation

Amit Bhattacharya- Prof. Jadhavpur University

Gautam Sen- Intellectual

Medha Patkar- National Alliance of People’s Movements

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November 8

Thirty people were arrested from College Street on November 8. Among them were 12-13 student activists and some APDR members. They had organized a roadblock in protest of the Nandigram violence.

An ambulence of Jibok Swasthakendra, working to transfer the wounded from Nandigram to different hospitals of Calcutta, was vandalized and destroyed on the 8th.

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November 6, 2007 – Cadres unleash violence

In a chilling re-run of the 14th March bloody backlash, three persons were killed, several others, including an Eastern Frontier Rifles personnel, injured at Nandigram and nine villages set ablaze during a pitched battle between CPI-M cadres and BUPC activists that continued for over 18 hours since late last night. The Trinamul Congress-led Opposition met the Governor, Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in the evening demanding invocation of Article 355. The Prime Minister was also informed of the escalation of violence.

At least 15,000 people were hounded out of their homes and many of them had to be given shelter at relief camps set up at Nandigram college.

Amid conflicting reports about the genesis of the fresh cycle of violence, an unconfirmed report suggested there was a mine explosion at Sonachura. The home secretary, Mr Prasad Roy, said “if there was truth in the report, it was indeed a serious matter.”

Mr Roy admitted that firing started from Khejuri, a clear admission that CPI-M cadres unleashed the violence. Mr Shyamal Chakraborty, CPI-M state committee member, however, claimed the provocation had come from the BUPC.

Trinamul Congress chief Miss Mamata Banerjee said the day’s violence made the state a “fit case” for invoking provisions of Article 355 as members of the minorities and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, who form a majority at Nandigram were no longer safe under the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee regime.

The Speaker of the West Bengal Assembly, Mr HA Halim, said Maoists had taken control of Nandigram and the Opposition had failed to realise it.

The violence started at villages bordering Nandigram and Khejuri around 10 last night. Local CPI-M leaders claimed armed BUPC cadres had abducted two of their party activists. This apparently triggered the flare-up with marauding, armed CPI-M cadres tried to force their way into Nandigram setting at least nine villages on fire and driving nearly 15,000 people out of their homes.
A bloody battle ensued following resistance from BUPC supporters, resulting in the deaths of three persons and leaving scores injured.

Among the killed was a BUPC activist who was hit by a bullet on the head and two CPI-M activists Tushar Shau (30) and Nirapada Ghata (32) who succumbed to bomb injuries at Khejuri.

The firing and bombing started late last night and continued throughout the day. CPI-M men reportedly tried to enter Nandigram from Sonachura, Garhchakraberia, Satengabari, Tekhali, Bhangabera and Ranichak. Hundreds of rounds were fired during the gun battle, according to information.

Armed CPI-M cadres initially entered Satengabari, Ranichak, Bhangabera and Sonachura firing salvos at supporters of BUPC taking up positions for resistance.

Later in the day, they entered, Simulkundu, Kanungochak, Satengabari, Uttarpurbapally, Girirbazar, Brindabanchak and Akandabari and set houses on fire in a desperate bid to recapture these places from their rivals. Two BUPC supporters Mr Khokan Shit (30) and Mr Manas Das (32) were injured.

The CPI-M cadres were forced to retreat after BPUC supporters put up a strong resistance. On their way back to Khejuri, CPI-M cadres allegedly looted 10 houses of BPUC supporters and set them on fire. An EFR Nayek, Mr Pradip Tamang, who was on duty near the Tekhali Bridge sustained injury after a bullet fired from Khejuri hit him, said a senior district police officer. Mr Tamang was first taken to Nandigram hospital from where he was rushed to Tamluk district hospital, according to Mr Satya Shankar Panda, superintendent of police, Midnapore (East).

The police said at least 300 bullets were fired and more than 500 crude bombs hurled during the clash.
Among the injured the condition of a BUPC supporter, Mr Kalipada Sit, is said to be critical. Local CPI-M leaders said, at least seven of their supporters were injured in the Trinamul-sponsored attack.

That the state administration virtually abdicated its responsibility became clear when the IG (law and order) Mr Raj Kanojia said : “I cannot say from which direction the bullet which hit Tamang came”. This was in sharp contrast to the home secretary’s admission that the firing was from the CPI-M-dominated Khejuri.

On the other hand, the state home secretary said the CPI-M had “probably gained ground” at Nandigram after the day’s violence.
While describing the situation at Nandigram to be “quite worse” Mr Ray said that according to unconfirmed reports some people had crossed Bhangaberia to enter Sonachura.

Asked whether the police were unable to enter areas where the CPI-M had regained control, the home secretary admitted there had been virtually no police presence in the areas like Gokulnagar, Ranichak, Bhangaberia and Satengabari which turned into a “war zone” witnessing “widespread violence” today.

Police contingents couldn’t move into some areas of Nandigram lest it should aggravate the situation, Mr Kanojia said. None was arrested for the violence. . There is strong Maoist presence in Nandigram, he added.

The home secretary admitted that the peace process had come to a “halt” and all the discussion initiated in the past three or four months “for a peaceful end to the dispute has gone down the drain.”

The state government has not received any information about the arrival of Central forces it has requisitioned for deployment at Nandigram. “ We are waiting for the CRPF to come.

Meanwhile, Mr D Bandopadhyay, former Union revenue secretary, told the Governor that he and some other retired IAS officers were preparing charge-sheets against district magistrates of Hooghly and East Midnapore
and all those police personnel who were responsible for mass killing and mass rape and incidents of arson and looting at Nandigram and Singur since 25 September last year.

Mr Bandyopadhyay, who was a member of the delegation led by Miss Mamata Banerjee, called on the Governor to apprise him of the worsening situation at Nandigram. He said they were collecting details of the acts of omission and commission of the guilty officers involved in the horrendous crime committed at the two places.

Each of these officers would be separately served charge-sheets and proceeded against through legal means. Mr Bandyopadhyay urged the Governor to tell the Centre to depoliticise the officers of all-India services (West Bengal cadre), because of their highly partisan behaviour during Nandigram and Singur operations.

He said that popular perception about the role of these officers was so bad that the credibility of this all-India cadre had suffered badly.

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What move would the CRPF take?

Would the CRPF conduct raids in the Khejuri-Nandigram belt in Midnapore East at the dictates of the district police or would they act independently? Probably they would conduct their operations as per as the advice given by the district police who are controlled by the state government. This was hinted by the state home secretary, Mr Prasad Ranjan Roy.

In that case, the Central forces may not be posted in Khejuri where the real tension lies. The area is dominated by a few hired goons of the CPI-(M) who have been lodged in hide-outs. Explosives and a cache of sophisticated arms have been kept here to use as and when required. Only a tip of the iceberg was busted by the CBI sleuths three days after the 14 March massacre took place, alleged Mr Nanda Patra, a BUPC leader.

However, a top brass of the CRPF of the eastern region sector was quoted as having said in the newspapers that they would conduct a raid independently as they are doing in Maoist-infested Midnapore West, Bankura and Purulia even if they work under the state government’s control.

They would find out illegal activities and arrest leaders belonging to any party, whatever be his status, the official further added.
However, the future would only tell whether the CRPF would act accordingly, a BUPC leader said.

Some state police personnel posted in the district have expressed their resentment against the government for slighting them.
“The state armed police jawans were competent enough to control the situation within hours if they were given an opportunity and if the government had sincerely desired so. There was no need for the government to post CRPF,” an aggrieved policeman said privately.

Meanwhile, the people of Satkhanda, Janka,Kamarda, Sahebnagar, Chowk Kasba and several other places in Khejuri are apprehending torture by hired musclemen of the CPI-(M) who are camping in the area to take part in the Nandigram liberation operation.

They are stealing fish, poultry and ducks. Besides this, they are also misbehaving with the women, the villagers alleged.
However, the Khejuri CPM leader, Mr Himangshu Das, have denied the allegations.

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Planned Attack : RSP Minister

Nov 6, 2007

The CPM’s allies saw a design in the escalation of violence and at least one of them, the RSP, directly accused it of launching a “planned attack” on Nandigram with “armed supporters”.

“The Union home ministry has said it would be difficult to send the CRPF immediately because of polls in other states. So the CPM has assembled its armed supporters to mount the attack in a planned manner with the backing of the Eastern Frontier Rifles,” PWD minister Kshiti Goswami said.

He suspected that the CPM was “in a hurry” to crush the Opposition’s control of Nandigram as it would like the panchayat polls — due in May — to be brought forward.

The home secretary today said CPM supporters in Khejuri started the fight last night.

A day before the Left Front meets to discuss the deployment of central forces, the Forward Bloc and CPI said they had heard what the government had to say and harped on the need for a political dialogue.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose did not react to the home secretary’s comment but other leaders said the supporters were “only defending themselves against Trinamul-Maoist attacks’’.

“I don’t know what hap- pened last night. But we are facing attacks from Trinamul and Maoist goons since January,” said Dipak Dasgupta, the CPM state secretariat member in charge of East Midnapore.

“Why did the home secretary not say that our party office was attacked last night? Our homeless supporters put up the resistance required to ensure their return,” said fellow state secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty.

If the allies had no doubt about the CPM’s role in the violence, they also had no doubt that Mamata Banerjee did not want peace. Goswami said: “It is in Mamata’s interest to keep the cauldron boiling.”

The Bloc’s Ashok Ghosh was reluctant to renew his peace efforts as neither the government nor Mamata wanted it.

CPM leader Benoy Konar said: “Before the CRPF comes, the ground reality is either we wrest control of our positions or they take over Khejuri.”

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Lakshman Seth gives the call “kill or get killed” – Nandigram awaits fierce bloodshed

Statesman News Service

MIDNAPORE, Nov. 6: Nandigram awaits to witness a fierce bloodshed again which is even worse than the 14 March carnage if the recent fiery utterances of the CPI-M MP, Mr Lakshman Seth and the Politburo member, Mrs Brinda Karat, much before the arrival of the Central forces in the region, are any indication of that.

In the open session of the different zonal committee conferences of the party in the district last week, Mr Seth announced that they would recapture their lost bastion in Nandigram.

By giving the slogan, “kill or get killed,” the Marxist leader charged the party cadres to wrest Nandigram from the clutches of the Bhumi Uchhed Patirodh Committee (BUPC) consisting of the Congress, Trinamul, SUCI, Jamit-e-Ulema besides the communists who had left the party to protest against the Left Front government’s anti-peasant policies.

Addressing the open session of the CPI-M ~ controlled Paschim Banga Ganatantrik Mahila Samiti at Dum Dum on Sunday Mrs Karat, echoed Mr Seth’s voice when she prescribed “Dum Dum Daoai” (infamous batoning of Dum Dum ration dealers by irate Left mob during food movement in early sixties).

Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was also present on the occasion.

The BUPC leaders alleged that Mr Seth and his comrades have prepared a game plan for an attempt to capture Nandigram again.
They have mobilised a few hundred trained gunners for the purpose from Garbeta, Kespur, Belda in Midnapore West and other places in Khejuri and will shoot them down with the help of CRPF on charges of harbouring the Maoists to aid them.

The CPI-M deployed hordes of hired hoodlums in Khejuri to take part in Nandigram operation, six of whom had died in a blast while manufacturing bombs at the house of a cadre at Sherkhanchowk in Khejuri last week.

That the deceased were outsiders was confirmed from the dying statements of one of them and also there were no claimants of the bodies of four from the hospital morgue.

But the contention of the chief minister claiming that a hardcore Naxalite squad led by Mr Ranjit Pal, who was involved in the assassination of the JMM MP from Jamshedpur, Mr Sunil Mahato, are with the BUPC is a cock and bull story.

If that be the fact their battle with the CPI-M would have assumed a different dimension and the heads of many stalwarts of the area would have rolled down as the modus operandi of the Naxalites suggested, the BUPC leaders argued.

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