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Undeclared Emergency in Buddha's Bengal

Members of CPI(ML) Fact-finding Mission Jailed while CPI(M) Goons Go on a Murderous Rampage

(Press Handout issued by CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya at press conference held in the Party's Central Office in Delhi on 8 January 2007)

The Left Front Government's campaign for forcible acquisition of agricultural land has now turned into a full-scale assault on democracy. Even as Singur remains sealed off from the rest of West Bengal by Section 144, armed CPI(M) goons have now unleashed a reign of terror in Nandigram of East Medinipur district. Eleven peasants have been killed so far in the state-sponsored CPI(M)-led mayhem since 6 January midnight.

Contrary to official propaganda and media reports, the Nandigram murders are not a case of clash between the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress. Nandigram is represented in the Assembly by CPI MLA Iliyas Ahmed and the peasants killed have mostly been activists of the local Save Agricultural Land Committee from some of the affected villages (Sonachura, Garchakraberia, Jalpai, Tekhali, Bhangaberi, Pankhai, Kunjapur, Kangra) in Khejuri and Nandigram I blocks.

The State Government wants to hand over some 20,000 acres of fertile agricultural land including more than 13,000 acres of multi-crop land to the Salim Group of Indonesia and the Ruia group of India . Notices regarding the land-grab move have been issued by the Haldia Development Authority while the peasants of Nandigram (27 Mouzas of Nandigram Block I) and the local panchayats have been kept in the dark.

This has understandably created a major unrest among the peasantry leading to the January 3 confrontation between the police and the local public. It should be noted that on 6 January afternoon the district administration deceived the local people with a ‘peace meeting' before armed CPI(M) men from other areas of East Medinipur moved into the area and began unleashing terror in connivance with the police.

A six member fact-finding team of our Party headed by veteran leader Sankar Mitra wanted to visit Nandigram on January 4. The team was detained by the police at Tekhali Bazar and all the members including Comrade Mitra and AICCTU leader and lawyer Dibakar Bhattacharya, AISA leaders Malay Tewari and Jitendra Kumar (the latter is a student of Jamia Milia Islamia of Delhi who had been visiting Kolkata) and leading Party activists from the district Bipradas Chatterjee and Netai Mandal have since been remanded to police custody under a host of false charges including arson and even attempt to murder!

The attacks on Nandigram peasants are by no means an isolated local incident. Both in Singur and Nandigram, the attacks on protesting peasants have been carried out at the behest of the CPI(M) state leadership's call to teach the ‘disturbing elements a deserving lesson'.

Senior CPI(M) leader Benoy Konar who is a member of the party's Central Committee and State Secretariat and who heads the party's peasant wing in the state, threatened the people of Nandigram with dire consequences unless they mended their ways and his remarks were widely publicised through the electronic media hours before the mayhem started at Nandigram.

Haldia MP and Haldia Development Authority Chairperson Lakshman Seth has also played no small role in instigating and engineering the attacks on Nandigram so no dissenting voice could be raised against the land-grab campaign.

The CPI(ML) therefore demands a CBI probe into the Nandigram killings and arrest of Benoy Konar and Lakshman Seth for instigating the mayhem. All arrested leaders and activists of the CPI(ML) must be released unconditionally and false charges withdrawn.

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government must not be allowed to impose an undeclared Emergency in West Bengal . We also strongly condemn the Chief Minister's statement describing the peasant resistance at Nandigram as a communal conspiracy.

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posted by Bimal 8.1.07,


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