Nandigram : The Truth of Indian Democracy
“Have your heard this word”
“Yes I think it was something which was coming on Aaj Tak before that thrilling Murder Story. I was waiting for my favorite crime program…….”
What this they are still showing this Nandigram and all Left and Mamta, BJP and Congress………! Political parties will keep fighting…… come on finish it yaar…… I am waiting for that story they are advertising from morning where a husband set on fire his wife for dowry.
Do you think I am talking about you??
It’s not your or my fault, its how we have been turned into by spicy news about crime, cars without driver, boy falling into hole, teacher making love with his student and many other thing which we forget after two or three days of entertainment.
But Nandigram is something more than these stupid stories, its about fight of people for their rights, its about democratic values, its about political parties playing with the lives of innocent people and more than all these its about the fact that we are in the situation where there is NO WAY OUT.
The BACK button is usually on the upper left corner on the browser, you can still press it and go to your usual work, to kingfisher calendar on Indiatimes, to cricket score on Cricinfo.
Alright if you have decided to be here, let me start………!
Is it a clash between administration and people? Is it another drama between ruling party and opposition?
The answer is yes, but more than that it is a big NO.
It all started with West Bengal Government’s decision to boost up the industrial growth in the state. State Govt. decided that the Salim Group (from Indonesia) would set up a chemical hub at Nandigram. The Chemical hub would require the acquisition of over 14,000 acres (57 Square Km.) of land spread over 27 villages in Nandigram.
So, how it became such a great controversy?
There have been such large acquisitions in the past, but never without the protest. So it was expected this time also and more because it was in communist regime. According to a data, this land acquisition would have affected 40,000 people. The most of the land is said to be multi crop. The prospect of losing land and thereby livelihood raised concerns among the predominantly agricultural populace.
The villagers started turning against ruling party CPI (M) and organized a resistance movement with the banner of the newly formed Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee of BUPC (literally, Committee for the Resistance to Eviction from land).
From the day I was interested in politics, it always amazed me, how left managed to be in power in West Bengal for continuously more than 30 years without a single defeat. Where are those political rules of Anti-incumbency? Do they have any secret mantra, some key to the heart of common man, if yes why don’t they apply it to rest of the country? Why they are in one sided majority in West Bengal and nowhere in the rest of the country. While scanning various articles, I came across an article which solved some of my curiosity. Somewhere author mentioned that one of the reasons, left was able to sustain in power was Redistribution – forcible acquisition of land / wealth from larger landlords and redistribution among cadres, a sure way of creating a large support base.
These small farmers, who were now against CPI(M), had been predominantly supporters of the party. They were feeling betrayed and came together under BUPC. Trinmool congress of Mamta Banerjee, which was struggling to find relevance in the state, found it as good opportunity. Trinmool Congress supported BUPC (Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee). The things were just starting to be complex.
The Land acquisition notice was put up on January 2, 2007by Haldia Development Authority. The Chairman of the authority is local CPI(M) MP Laxman Seth. From 3rdJanuary, clashes started between BUPC and CPI(M). Both sides having their own interests. CPI(M) was struggling to keep their hold on rural Bengal, on the other part BUPC, the farmers concerned about their lands. To a good extent there were political interests of opposition party Trinmool Congress.
As though, things weren’t complex enough, in this whole picture some how came Maoists.
Maoists or Naxalists an upcoming problem of India, although a whole book can be dedicated on this, at least an article will be coming soon. How they came into the picture. West Bengalis the land where Naxalist movement started in India 40 yeas ago in 1967 in Naxalbari. They are again active in Rural areas of West Bengal. Allegedly Trinmool and BUPC sought their help in this movement. Maoists also took it as good chance to increase their base nad make their presence feel to outer world. In a recent program by a TV channel Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao said Nandigram in 2007 will give the Maoist movement the same impetus that Naxalbari did in the late sixties. “Naxalbari lasted six months, Nandigram lasted 11 months.” He admitted that Maoist were there in Nandigram.
The Villagers along with BUPC workers, Trinmool workers and allegedly with these Maoists took over the administration of the area and roads to the villages were cut off. Although the chief minister later verbally confirmed that their will be no land acquisitions, but no notification came and it was too late now. Farmers didn’t have faith in Govt. or say Maoists had already done the damage. The area was inaccessible to Govt. authorities, CPI(M) supporters were forced to leave the villages otherwise were killed.
There was complete deadlock.
The administration was directed to break the BUPC’s resistance at Nandigram and a massive operation with at least 3,000 policemen was launched on March 14, 2007. The State Govt. was more concerned about meting out raw retribution for the atrocities that had been perpetrated on the CPI(M) cadre and to re-assert the hold of the Marxists on rural Bengal.
This again goes to one of the reason why CPI(M) has been able to survive for so long in West Bengal politics. The article I referred earlier says one ingredient of this power recipe is Intimidation – in the villages it was through acts of barbaric violence against anyone who tried to challenge the party, dead bodies turning up in ponds or in the paddy fields from time to time leaving villagers in no doubt as to who called the shots.
That day on March 14, 2007along with police went a crack army of the worst of CPI(M) goons from every corner of the state. However prior information of the impending action had leaked out to the BUPC who amassed a crowed of roughly 2,000 villagers at the entry points into Nandigram with women and children forming the front ranks.
The clash resulted in big damage, at least 14 people were killed, and more than 60 injured and these are official figures. According to few unofficial sources, actual death toll was more than 100 and around 600 people were missing.
After all these, this rural area of Nandigram around 150 Km away from Kolkata came into Focus. Media highlighted, intellectuals gathered, blogs were written and politicians visited the place. The Governor criticized the state government, Kolkata High Court condemned and CBI inquiry was ordered. But CBI worked the way they were supposed to. The CPI (M) workers captured the roads and then started the battle for supremacy. On one hand CPI(M) was trying to regain hold in rural parts of Nandigram, 2500 CPI(M) members and supporters ans their families who were driven out of the area and displaced into relief camps, were facing armed attack on relief camps.
For the largest democracy of the world, it was shameful incident. People fighting against democratically elected government with arms and that democratically elected government dealing with the situation with their own party goondas and making the situation worst. Police playing in the hands of State Govt. and opposition party using people’s fear to spread rumours and fulfill their own political interests.In this whole game of blood and terror, there were only two winners. Naxalists who are able able to regain their hold on West Bengal and which will now take many lives of policemen and crores of funds to remove naxalists from the state, and the other winner is the Central Government which has sold its constitutional duties against the price they needed most at this time; left’s agreement on Nuclear deal, which was never possible otherwise.
Who so ever may be the winner, the loser is only one the villagers of Nandigram. They fought for their rights, lost their lives, their relatives, their women. Be it policeman Sadhucharan Chaterjee whose rotting body was recovered from river or CPI(M) leader Shankar Samata who was dragged out of his house, hacked into pieces and set afire or Sunita Mondol, a class ten girl, mutiliated and raped and hung on a tree, or hundreds of villagers whose bodies are said to being put in plastic bags and thrown into the sea by police.
They lost their peace, their lives and today or tomorrow they will lose their lands too.
The incident at-least revealed to us how West Bengal’s rural politics works. How these people were denied the right to vote in actual sense for years. It is the perfect example of running the Govt., holding the power on Gun Point. This was going on there for more than 30 years.
The biggest loser in this game is ‘the democracy of India’. As I said in the beginning, this is the story about the fact that we are in the situation where there is NO WAY OUT. Ruling parties will do anything to keep their power and opposition will do anything to gain the power. Is anybody concerned about the public, the basic pillar of any republic. No one is concerned and this is the ULTIMATE TRUTH OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY.
A fresh round of violence came up in November 2007 as the CPI(M) party’recaptured’ Nandigram wrestling control. Evidence points to the operation being conducted entirely by the party keeping the state administration inactive. The party eulogized the operation with its State Chairman describing it as ‘a new dawn’. The icing on the cake was provided by Chief minister, Budhadeb Bhattacharya who justified this dastardly extra-constitutional act of wanton violence as the ‘tit’ for the ‘tat’, ‘our boys’ paying ‘their boys’ back in the same coin, completely forgetting his responsibilities as the CM to be protecting everyone in the state.
What can be more shameful…..?
Later on CRPF was sent to Nandigram, they are still struggling to establish their base camps. they are not getting proper support from local police.
According to recent reports CRPF has written letter to State Govt. that they can’t work in such a situation if not provided proper support by local police.
Local CPI(M) workers are marching in the villages on motor cycles with arms.
Central Home minister is saying the situation is under control.
Hundreds are still living in the relief camps.
That is World’s largest democracy.
Every political party has its hands colored with blood of innocents; Congress for 1984 Masscare of Sikhs, BJP for killings of hundreds of Muslims in post godhara riots and now Left parties for killing of villagers in Nandigram. These are goondas in khadi, then there are other bigger threats such ISI sponsored terrorism and Naxalists who are awaiting to en-cash any unrest in public.
If you think you are safe sitting on fifth floor of BPO Company against PCs and with headphones, you are mistaken my dear…….. they tried dravidian – aryan fornula few months back…. they will do it again if they feel they are losing base…… and then results will be more dangerous…..!!!
Believe me there is NO WAY OUT…… unless we do something.
– Gaurav Sangtani
(courtsey : various inputs from the internet)