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News & Views on the Revolutionary Left

Upal Chakrabarthi writes from West Bengal,

6 people were shot dead today in Nandigram, a village in the district of West Midnapore over a dispute regarding acquisition of agricultural land for the construction of a Chemical hub.

For the past three days, the local people of Nandigram were organizing themselves in protest against the forceful acquisition of 19000 acres of agricultural land for the proposed project of industrialization of the government of West Bengal that involves the construction of a Chemical hub in Nandigram and a nuclear-energy plant at Haripur, another village in the same district.

The situation in Nandigram was clearly tense as around five thousand villagers demonstrated with swords, sticks, sickles and axes swearing hard that they would not, under any circumstances, give up their land.

Everything began on the 4th of January, when, following a general notification regarding land acquisition, a rumour spread fast that the government is proceeding to grab land at Nandigram. This brought the villagers out in the streets in an agitated mood. When the police tried to enter Nandigram, they were beaten up and chased away by the villagers.

Drawing lessons from Singur, an agricultural area in the district of Hooghly, West Bengal, where the police force entered in thousands and mercilessly beat up the villagers in the process of acquiring land for an automobile industry of the Tatas, the people in Nandigram dug up different parts of the major entry-routes to Nandigram apprehending large-scale police violence.

Yesterday, however, several camps were set up surrounding Nandigram by the activists of the CPI(M). The local leaders told the electronic media channels that these camps were being established to provide protection for the CPI(M) activists of Nandigram who, the leadership alleged, had been driven away by the protesting masses of Nandigram.

With the early morning news flash today by Kolkata TV, it was known that 6 villagers were shot dead and several injured yesterday night as the people of Nandigram claimed that CPI(M) cadres from the surrounding camps attacked the villagers at night with bombs and other firearms. Kolkata TV pictures clearly showed massive bombing and shots being fired at the villagers at night. These pictures were recorded live at the site of attack as Kolkata TV had been the only channel to be present at Nandigram over the past three days.

The names of the dead are Bhudheb Mandal, Biswajit Maity, S.K. Salim, Sankar Samanta, Bishnu Maity and Bharat Mandal. All these people were active members of the local body that has been formed in Nandigram against acquisition of agricultural land.

Significantly enough, yesterday, Binay Kongar, a reputed Krishak Sabha leader of CPI(M), in two interviews given to Kolkata TV and Tara News clearly said that the protesting people of Nandigram would face violence. He pointed out that since the villagers of Nandigram have chosen the path of protest with sticks and axes, they should be prepared to face violence from the other side. Binay Kongar also said that CPI(M) would adopt the methods that they used at Keshpur to drive out the protesters from Nandigram.

The police have still not entered Nandigram to help the injured villagers and shift the dead bodies from the village. CPI(M) activists are still assembled in huge numbers at different points of the several entry points of Nandigram. Nobody can come in or go out of Nandigram, as this inconsequential little village of West Midnapore has become a site of civil war in West Bengal.

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posted by Bimal 8.1.07,


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