Nonadanga – How many ears must one have before people hear our cries ?

April 19, 2012


Student Forum against Mal-development
University of North Bengal, Siliguri

How many deaths will it take till they know that too many people have died ?

Yes, we are speaking from Nonadanga in Kolkata.

Our government has uprooted all the slum-dwellers of Nonadanga from their habitat. On 30th March, police and the Kolkata Municipal Development Authority (KMDA) destroyed the homes of some of the poorest of the poor : more than 300 homes were burnt. The evicted people were not given any time to move their articles of daily use. They are now being compelled to stand roofless under the heavy rainfall and northwester; they are living the same life along with their children under the open sky struggling with all adversities of nature till date.

Who are these people ? They haven’t come to Kolkata to live in slums by choice. Most of the people have come from Sundarban after the devastating storm ”AILA” destroyed their villages last year. Some have come to ”The city of joy” only to make ends meet. There isn’t enough employment in the villages, so they have been compelled to leave their homes and to come to the city to find jobs. Some are rickshaw-pullers, some work as electricians, other as masons; some work as maids.

Are they illegal ? Twenty-five years ago, the land reform department of the state government acquired the land on the condition of providing sufficient rehabilitation to the people. But the promise was never kept. Some years ago, the state government sold this land to some corporate MNCs aiming to build high-tech cities, shopping malls, IT hub, etc., and generally to use the land for real estate. Ponds were being filled to make high-riser buildings.

But rehabilitation wasn’t provided. The people who were on the verge of being thrown out of their own homes requested the government to stop the eviction and to provide them with place to live. But it was a far cry for the government to hear and one day the bulldozers came.

The people of Nonadanga, along with many democratic individuals, organizations and students, started their protest campaign. These protestors were severely beaten by the police : on 4th April, 68, and on 6th April, 114, protestors were arrested. Though police released most of the protestors they haven’t released all seven who were participating in the movement in solidarity. The movement continues.

Just a few days back, the state government released famous scientist Partha Sarathi Roy after application of enormous international pressure. But the other six are still living behind the bar, convicted with false charges and one of the activists, Deblina Chakraborty, has been accused with the charge of sedition and has been charged under UAPA.

Their crime ? These activists have participated shoulder to shoulder with the people fighting in several movements for justice, against forceful eviction and for livelihood. These people have denounced the development policy of the government where the poor, common people are being tortured and exploited in order to raise corporate profits.

From the arrest of the professor of Jadavpur University for making some cartoons of the chief minister to the brutal attack on the protestors fighting for democratic rights; from imposing false charges to the activists to bulldozing Nonadanga, Chandmoni : the tendency of onslaught against democracy has turned to be epidemic and is increasing.

Even if today we sit deaf and dumb and act ignorant in spite of knowing everything, the long lasting effect is not going to spare us tomorrow. It is eating up the society and will swallow every single space of breathing in near future. It will destroy our society.

So its not the time for making condolences, its the time to be vocal and to come out with indignation. ”Which organization, which ideology do you belong” is obsolete in this time when social injustice is turning to be the rule of the day.

Friends, we are urging you to come up against all forceful evictions going on throughout our country including Nonadanga. Let us stand hand in hand to build a barricade of resistance against mal-development and for our democratic rights. Let us incorporate our friends, associates and neighbors in this fight for justice and humanity. Because only the struggle of the people of Nonadanga has stopped the state government and its powerful machinery for this long from uprooting their homes.

Our collective struggle is our only weapon to defeat this tyranny because struggle does matter.