Nandigram on the eve of the Panchayet Elections – A MASUM report

May 10, 2008. Click here for a cartoon of today’s Nandigram!

On getting information of the continuing disturbances and police inaction in Nandigram, our fact finding team reached violence-torn Nandigram today and has gathered shocking information from the villagers. Since last night musclemen and goons alleged to be supporters of the largest ruling party CPI(M) flaunting red flags resorted to bloody violence in the area. These miscreants snatched away voter identity cards of many villagers and beat them mercilessly even on the mere suspicion of not being supporters of the ruling party. As a result of pre-poll clashes, at least 11 to 15 persons including women were admitted in Nandigram Block Primary Health Centre in critically injured condition.

The fact finding team has found that about 1000 to 1500 persons of village Kalicharanpur (Booth no.148 to 155) were robbed of their voter identity cards in the hands of the goons of the ruling party. Sk. Mojaffar, Giyasuddin Ali Shah, Sk. Malek , Sk. Rajjak, Sahauddin Shah, Saibul Shah, Samad Shah, Sk Basir, Amar Khatua, Mriganka Majhi were among other goons who masterminded and carried the operation in the area at the instance of the ruling political party. Moreover hundreds of villagers of Sonachura Gram Panchayat (Booth no.168 to 176), Gokulnagar Gram Panchayat, Bhangabera Gram Panchayat were also not free from such incidents.

Today at about 11 a.m. in the morning hundreds of villagers whose voter identity cards were forcibly taken away, gathered at the office of the Block Development Officer, Nandigram in order to ventilate their grievance and seeking permission to cast their votes after loosing their voter identity cards in the hands of the cadres and goons of the ruling party. But without any provocation Mr. Debashish Chakraborty, Officer in Charge of Nandigram Police Station with Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel conducted lathi-charge upon the innocent gathering of the people.

The fact finding team of MASUM also visited Nandigram Block Primary Health Centre at about 12 o’clock today i.e.10/5/2008. At that time Mr. N. Saha, Superintendent of Police, West Bengal Human Rights Commission along with Deputy Superintendent of Police and other police officers were also present in the said hospital. They came to meet one Ms. Malati Jana of Satengabari village, a sexually abused victim who was admitted in the hospital on 5/5/2008. But those officers refused to meet with other victims including another sexually abused victim, Ms. Radharani Ari who was accompanying with our fact finding team at that time there.

The series of incidents in Nandigram showed that the free and fair election process is seriously hampered and the ruling party goons are moving freely to scare the voters. All these repressive acts are done in presence of police and administration. It is further shocking and serious event before the election of Gram Panchayat that voter identity cards have been snatched from a large number of people and such maverick incident is defeat to the democratic practice of the society and freedom of expression and thought and belief of the citizens.

The atrocities on victims of recent incidents in Nandigram have not been redressed nor did the administration or police take any initiative to deliver justice in future to the tortured victims.

Just now 2-30 p.m., we find in Nandigram Block Primary Health Center that six injured persons have reached to with two persons having serious bullet injuries. Many bodies are lying in the fields as reported. The officer-in-charge of Nandigram and the Superintendent of Police, Mr. S. Panda of East Midnapur have actually joined with the party goons and under their direction the bodies are prevented to be carried in the hospital.

Under such situation, we severely condemn the conniving acts of the police and the party goons in Nandigram. The left rule has introduced ugly fascist trend and terror. The voters whose identity cards have been snatched must be allowed to vote so that they can exercise their right to franchise in the election. The goons involved in attacking people and perpetrating torture on them in a systematic manner in connivance with a section of police and administration must be apprehended and prosecuted on urgent basis under the penal law. The biased and partisan police officers and administrative officers must be prosecuted and detached from the election process. Numbers of neutral election observers in Nandigram are required to be deputed to see that free and fare election is conducted there. The voters should be given adequate security and safety. Legal proceedings must be initiated against the offenders and conspirators. Now, at Nandigram, the lawlessness is complete by dictum of ruling party and police administration. The right to life and dignity of the villagers are under attack.

We have already filed complaint with State Election Commissioner, Home Secretary, Chief Secretary, DG&IGP of West Bengal by fax and lodged complaint with NHRC and WBHRC.

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Intellectuals to shack up at Nandigram

May 10, 2008

The first phase of Panchayat elections takes off at Nandigram on Sunday.

For the first time, a group of intellectuals from West Bengal will shack up at this controversial place of East Midnapore from Saturday to try and prevent ‘state government-sponsored’ violence in the area during polls.

The group consists of filmmaker-cum-journalist Aparna Sen, painters Suvaprasanna and Shipra Bhattacharya, thespians Shaonli Mitra, Kaushik Sen, Manish Mitra et al.

A couple of days back, the same group had taken out a silent procession in protest against the ‘slaughter of democracy’ in Nandigram.

Needless to say, these thinking brains of Bengal have lost faith in the government machinery and they fear ‘unprecedented bloodshed will mar the Panchayat elections.