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Alarm bells sound in Nandigram for Indian democracy

16 March, 2007

By Bobby Ramakant


Police arrest SUCI supporters demonstrating at the main gate of West Bengal Assembly House in Kolkata on Wednesday. Photo: PTI
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It is a shame that police administration and our elected representatives continue to thwart people's struggles and instead of protecting democratic rights of our people, they are overtly active in protecting vested interests of corporations.

The state of west Bengal in India has waged a war against farmers with an intention of occupying their farm land, fish ponds, homes and hearths. In spite of the rhetorical statements by the Chief Minister of WB that he would consult and convince the people, the State government claiming to be leftist by ideology, has resorted to brutal and barbaric way of using police force and party cadres to attack the unarmed, non-violent farmers, fish workers, labourers and artisans in the district of East Midnapore for grabbing their land. 14 people, all villagers, were reported to be killed. Civil society organizations claim there are more than 50 dead so far in the mindless frenzy unleashed by police and administration on people of Nandigram.

The people from generations old communities who have a golden history of freedom movement and martyrdom are being not only forced but killed by the "free Indian state" which is shameful for the Indian democracy and its people. Imposition of industrialization, with or without SEZ, as also real estate-development, is to kill farm land and farming as a way of life.

This brutal attack is being condemned by civil society organizations across India, and also expatriates with forums as those of DailySouthAsian and AID India flooded with outcry to lobby pressure for action and justice. "CPM must be compelled to stop murdering farmers immediately and held accountable. Such state fascism and corporate war against people can't and must not be tolerated" said noted social activist Medha Patkar.

Medha continues to add that there is going to be a demonstration in Delhi beginning on March 19 in support of all people's movements against displacement in India. The charter of demands include:

That the Union of India and UPA through the PM, Sonia Gandhi and others must immediately intervene and use various restraining measures in their hands to compel the CPM government to stop the murderous attack.

Legal action must be taken against all responsible for the killings including the CM, West Bengal

That the National Human Rights Commission will send a team for urgent enquiry and take action. We assert that SEZ Act should be repealed and projects with conflict between the state and the people should be put on immediate hold across the country. An enactment on Development Planning, based on the draft submitted to the National Advisory Council under the Chairmanship of Smt. Sonia Gandhi should be taken for consultation with people's movements and approval.

 The West Bengal state stands charged with culpable homicide in Nandigram. The people's demands included:

1- Immediate police withdrawal from Nandigram

2- Police officers be held accountable for the massacre

3- Judicial enquiry into the massacre be conducted immediately.

4- Due punishment be meted out to offenders

5- Public apology by the CPM

6- Halt land acquisition right now

7- Repeal the SEZ act that has already caused so much blood shed

It is a shame that police administration and our elected representatives continue to thwart people's struggles and instead of protecting democratic rights of our people, they are overtly active in protecting vested interests of corporations.

Another noted social activist and Magsaysay Awardee 2002 Dr Sandeep Pandey reasserts that "industrialization is not an alternative to agriculture". Even pro-industrialists need food to eat, not machines.

Let's hope that people who feel they are not "affected" by the Nandigram Satyagrah, will `hear' the alarm bells communities on the frontlines have already sounded. The time to wake up is running out.

 

Bobby Ramakant

(Bobby Ramakant is a senior development journalist writing for newspapers in more than 11 countries. He can be contacted at: bobbyramakant@yahoo.com )

Reader Comments:

Grapes are sour !

Physician hail thyself !

Darpan, Hungary - 17 March, 2007

Nandigram and SEZ in West Bengal

The problem of Nandigram and Singur should have been perceived by Govt. long back. These areaa in Ganges delta are very fertile and produces 3 crops a year without fail. Due to high population density and land reforms, most of the land owners are small farmers and work on their own field. If the land is taken, they will have no regular source of income. Furthermore, in West Bengal, those who have no skills and education, they go for agriculture, not by choice. So, you can not take their land. If CPI(M) has not done land reform,the situation would have been better. Large land owners has already migrated to other profession. Large part of Vidarbha, the farmers are in great geopardy. Why Govt. of India is not forcing industrial houses to setup industry in those areas? After open economy (1991), each state compete with other to show how they are industry friendly and causing nuicense for the poors farmers.

Nikus, Pakistan - 17 March, 2007

Bengali Khet or anywhere

I went there in Indo Pakistan Bengal Bihar Kashmir American khet
Atleast few times in 24 months.In short, I have been there atleast once even
via West Bengal khet. I actually inspected one ranch nr Nepal Bihar.

What breaks my heart is despite some lush green khet bulk of them seem
In poor condition with polluted pond and pre –independence setting .Some
Village and town had electric poles or pot hole roads and some narrow
Developed Road.I could not Enjoy Asian food milk and even vegetables.
And Meat.

To manage problem you need manpower.In sparsely populated Canada where
Everyone is educated rich with big roads cars trucks factories and nothing but
Farms and fresh water lakes forests and lumber.But polluted water can be seen.

Best result comes with education technology highly educated farmers running
Modern Ranch produce packaging factory while working or sending family work
In modern offices in driving distance. In factories people told me they own a ranch
As well as drive dailt one way 80 km to come to work and then go home after doing
12 hr shift work while running farms and hiring fruit pickers on weekends.The govt
who brings oil from abroad give subsidy to destroy food and milk produced often.
They also do not produce much children and have extremely high standard of living to
The extent they buy many cars boat weekend cottage and trucks .some trucks with
Computer TV 2 bed luxury apt with none stop heat electricity airconditioner can be purchased for as little as $129,000 ( Rs 6450000 ).with this setting family have income from many areas and in some cases going to Iraq UAE Saudi Arabia for $80,000 120000
Job with a home in Israel is also added feature).

Mixed Hindu Muslim Midnapore farms have problem…
1- Immediate police withdrawal from Nandigram
2- Police officers be held accountable for the massacre
3- Judicial enquiry into the massacre be conducted immediately.
4- Due punishment be meted out to offenders
5- Public apology by the CPM
6- Halt land acquisition right now
7- Repeal the SEZ act that has already caused so much blood shed

To Solve problem you need manpower and time. Population of India is 1100 Million
EBengal has 140 million and West Bengal 85 million.With all the time to spare with
So many people what you need is democracy.Democracy you have.What you do not
Have is the money space education transportation and spirit for the well being
Of each other.Even Coke made from polluted water does not taste good.The region
Is dying – choking to death.Clue is alternative to current setup current democracy
Methodology which is not functioning.Clue is learn to survive and govern with
Cooperation with neighbours hindu muslim Christian jain sikh or whoever.


zmb, Hungary - 20 March, 2007

Farm Vegetable Mango Tastes Good In Canada UK

Despite biggest money maker in bottled water sales in UK Canada where people live off nestle culligan due to money they earn. But world Water pollution making is big business.
Almost all people drink bottled water in EU N America Middle East despite tap water in UK Canada is so good for cooking to the extent That India Pakistan Mango fresh vegetable Canadian meat poultry cooked with Tap water both in UK Canada Taste Twice better than India.

Before visiting Bengal farms district I came across Nestle Promoting water sales in my
Old University Campus. There is no sign of Democracy in Bengal other than daily protest
March in filthiest environment with every few hours electricity down even coldest winter
Calcutta needing no Airconditioner.In City you inhale nothing but CO and pollution. Yet
People and family take bath on footpath In Main Commercial Downtown area inclusive with full view from tramways and taxi and rental car. They still use raw Yellow Ganges water since prehistoric period.

If you tell me Democracy works or food taste good or India is becoming wealthy like
Movie show Biz projection project perhaps I will consider that I am wrong.


zmb, Hungary - 23 March, 2007

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