[DEBATE] : Fwd: [dalits] Dalits In News 09.12.07 (Exclusive)
jai.sen at cacim.net
Sun Dec 9 15:02:47 GMT 2007
Begin forwarded message:
> From: ARUN KHOTE <arun.khote at gmail.com>
> Date: December 9 2007 11:02:53 AM GMT+05:45
> To: Dalits in News <dalits at dgroups.org>
> Subject: [dalits] Dalits In News 09.12.07 (Exclusive)
> Reply-To: Dalits in News <dalits at dgroups.org>
> NATIONAL CAMPAIGN ON DALIT HUMAN RIGHTS is an Advocacy Platform
> committed for Dalit Human Rights at the Grass root, National and
> International levels. Dalits In News aims at sensitizing Civil
> societies, HR Mechanisms and providing updates of HR violations on
> Dalits for their Intervention.
> NATIONAL CAMPAIGN ON DALIT HUMAN RIGHTS
> Dalits In News
> December 09, 2007
> Hard Line News Media
> Dictatorship of the 'Proletariat?'
> 'Operation Recapture' shows the ruthlessness of a victorious army
> subjugating the conquered land. However, for how long can the CPM
> dominate Nandigram by brute force? A graphic account of what really
> Rajat Roy Nandigram/Kolkata
> It seems all quiet in Nandigram now. Around 1,200 CPM supporters,
> who were driven out of their homes, have returned. The West Bengal
> police, who were unable to enter the villages since March 14, 2007,
> after the first 'police-CPM-engineered' massacre of villagers and
> farmers in which 14 were 'officially' killed, are pumping their
> chests. Paramilitary forces are conducting flag marches to reassure
> the people. Relief workers, medical teams and media are being
> allowed access. The roads and street-corners are adorned with red
> flags of the CPM. Young, aggressive men in motorbikes are
> patrolling the area — often operating as armed cadre of the ruling
> The defeated and demoralised leaders of the Bhumi Uchchhed
> Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) have fled to the neighbouring districts.
> Some of them are still around, but they have taken shelter in a
> relief camp. When things were at its peak, there were at least six
> to seven relief camps sheltering over 15,000 people. Now, only one
> relief camp is functioning at the BMT High School in Nandigram
> Bazaar, where about 600-700 people are still waiting for their turn
> to return home. Nandigram has been truly recaptured by the CPM.
> According to official estimates, the toll of 'Operation Recapture'
> is pegged at four dead and 10 injured, while a few rape cases were
> reportedly recorded with the administration. But unofficial
> estimates put the death toll at 20 or more and BUPC claims that at
> least 32 people are still missing. In the prevailing atmosphere of
> several disappearances, eliminations, mistrust and fear, where the
> state administration's role is not above suspicion, it is still
> difficult to come to a realistic estimate.
> The arrest of Tapan Ghosh (CPM's West Midnapur district committee
> member) and Sukur Ali (CPM's Garbeta zonal committee secretary),
> while smuggling out three people with bullet injuries, gives
> strength to the BUPC allegation that the CPM might have kidnapped a
> number of injured people, later, killed them, and destroyed all
> evidence. The criminal history of Ghosh and Ali is widely known.
> They were arrested at Egra near Nandigram on November 10, when the
> local TMC people gheraoed a convoy of four cars and found out that
> injured people were being abducted.
> Since the CBI chargesheeted them as main culprits of the Chute
> Angora murder case, they have been evading the law. On January 4,
> 2001, at Chute Angora, five Trinamool Congress (TMC) supporters
> were murdered allegedly by CPM activists. The CBI investigation
> found Ghosh and Ali as the masterminds of those killings and they
> were chargesheeted along with 13 others. But the police,
> incidentally, declared them 'absconders' — although they have been
> prominently seen in many party programmes. Despite the court
> declaring them proclaimed offenders and ordering their property to
> be attached, nothing has been done to that effect. Indeed, even
> now, after their arrest, CPM leaders like Benoy Konar (who has been
> rather belligerent and crude recently) and Deepak Sarkar have
> proclaimed that these two are "assets" of the party.
> That CPM had mobilised forces from other districts to 'Liberate
> Nandigram'. This was initially proved by Governor Gopalkrishna
> Gandhi's public utterances: "Large number of armed persons from
> outside the district have, it is undeniable, forced themselves into
> villages in Nandigram Block 1 and 2 for territorial assertions."
> Sukur Ali and Tapan Ghosh were among those outsiders. A few days
> after the arrest of Ghosh and Ali, the CID arrested Selim Laskar, a
> hardened criminal, from a guest house in nearby Geonkhali, an
> hour's drive from Nandigram, and recovered a number of
> sophisticated firearms from him. Selim is from South 24 Parganas
> and has close ties with some senior leaders of the CPM there. Now,
> some district party leaders are admitting that the CPM did mobilise
> cadres and musclemen from West Midnapur, South and North 24
> Parganas and Hoogly.
> The CPM 'recaptured' these villages between November 5 and 12. A
> meticulous plan was drawn by the CPM leaders. According to party
> sources, state secretariat member Shyamal Chakrabarty was entrusted
> with overseeing 'Operation Recapture' by the state party
> leadership. The state administration was kept in the loop, and
> accordingly, on November 2, just when the CPM musclemen were
> warming up for their final assault on Nandigram, the police were
> moved out from all bunkers and camps around Nandigram. The only
> police picket in Tekhali Bridge, the dividing line between the CPM
> and BUPC, was withdrawn.
> The CPM brought in their musclemen from adjacent districts and
> supplied them with firearms and local guides. All the entry points
> were closed and supply lines of the BUPC cut off.
> Then the final assault began.
> When the entire state was busy celebrating the festival of
> 'Kalipuja', the CPM cadres and musclemen with the tacit support of
> the state police were preparing for a different kind of Diwali in
> Nandigram. This time the CPM leaders and vigilant groups were well-
> prepared: they were better armed and they used that to their
> advantage. Realising that the BUPC strength was more concentrated
> in Sonachura and Garchkaraberia, the CPM 'force' diverted its
> attack on Satengabari, Takapura, Gokulnagar, Bhangabera and
> Kalicharanpur. Once those villages fell to the CPM, they took a
> number of villagers hostage and using them as a human shield
> entered Sonachura and Garchakraberia.
> It is true that in the initial stage the BUPC tried to put up a
> fight, but they were overpowered by superior firepower and armed
> strength. On November 7, when the CPM forces broke through their
> resistance and started entering into the heart of Nandigram, local
> BUPC supporters sought police intervention. The officer-in-charge
> of the Nandigram police station pleaded helplessness: "I have been
> instructed by the SP not to send forces till five in the evening,
> no matter how bad the situation is." Later, in Kolkata, Chief
> Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya would justify this inaction of his
> police forces by saying that after the March 14 incident it was a
> conscious decision not to send the police there.
> On November 10, the final blow was dealt when the BUPC brought out
> a number of unarmed processions in areas which were still under
> their control to regain their moral and political ground and also
> to draw attention of the outside world to their plight. According
> to the villagers who participated in one procession, it was at
> least 15,000 strong. The procession came under fire and they saw
> several people falling on the ground or seriously injured after
> being hit by bullets. This was, locals say, another massacre of
> unarmed protestors, the details of which are still fuzzy.
> The last resistance of the BUPC was broken. The CPM cadres started
> entering into villages. First came the motorbikes, then people came
> on foot in processions and CPM's red flags started fluttering from
> house tops, trees, lamp-posts — everywhere. Then it was time for
> It is true that when the CPM cadres were forced to leave their
> homes between January 3 and March 14, some of their houses were
> looted and burnt by angry mobs. Now, the CPM started looting and
> torching the houses of BUPC members. Paying them back in the same
> coin, as Buddhadeb Bhattacharya would say, publicly defending extra-
> constitutional violence by the CPM cadre.
> Finally, after the houses burnt, hundreds turned homeless, the
> reported killings, rapes, abductions, human shields and mass
> beating, the CPM leaders in Kolkata announced with a tone of
> finality that peace has been restored in Nandigram. The chief
> minister echoed this moment of truth by asking the people who fled
> their villages to return home without any fear.
> This is not mere coincidence that the state administration
> announced compensation for the victims of the March 14 police
> firing at the same time when a largescale attack had already been
> launched by CPM musclemen to recapture Nandigram. On hindsight, it
> could be seen as a clever ploy to deflect attention from ground
> zero to bureaucratic nitty-gritties.
> Indeed, only the governor of West Bengal was not misled by any such
> move. On November 9, while the operation was going on, Gandhi
> issued a statement castigating the state government for its
> inaction and said in no uncertain terms that the forcible recapture
> of Nandigram by outsiders was completely unlawful and unacceptable.
> The state administration kept quiet but the CPM leadership blew its
> top. A belligerent Biman Bose, the state secretary, alleged that
> the governor was transgressing on his constitutional jurisdictions.
> He uncannily reminded Gandhi that some of his predecessors could
> not complete their term in West Bengal.
> While the civil society in Kolkata, West Bengal and across India
> protested in outrage at this brazen violation of constitutional
> norms and the State-sponsored violence in Nandigram, the CPM cadres
> continued their organised, nasty and brutish operation. New Delhi
> sent paramilitary forces at the behest of the state government, but
> the CRPF was not allowed entry till 'Operation Recapture Nandigram'
> was over.
> Even when the CRPF was deployed at Nandigram, the state police,
> instead of assisting them, started putting up one obstacle after
> another. Reports of friction between the state police and CRPF are
> now widespread. With the entry of CRPF jawans as peacekeepers, the
> people expected they would get protection from the continuous
> intimidation and harassment unleashed by the CPM activists there.
> Since the law permits the CRPF to operate only under the state
> administration, they are dependent on the police on crucial matters
> — restoring peace and the rule of law, locating troubled spots and
> identifying known criminals, etc. To their dismay, the CRPF
> discovered that the state police are not only uncooperative, but
> they are often actively moving to subvert the process.
> When CRPF jawans arrested some CPM goons for intimidating
> villagers, the state police came to their rescue. Some of those
> arrested by the CRPF were released by the police. So much so that
> the exasperated DIG, Alok Raj, complained against the police for
> obstructing them in performing their duty. A CRPF officer said, "We
> nabbed four persons on motorbikes and handed them over to the
> police. They were released. We arrested a notorious criminal, Anup
> Mondal, who has several criminal cases against him. He was released
> by the police as well. We were told to bring about peace in the
> area, yet, if we cannot instill confidence among the villagers, the
> morale of our personnel will go down."
> Nandigram is calm now, though the sound of occasional firing can be
> heard from Khejuri, the CPM stronghold. There are spontaneous
> celebrations of the 'victorious CPM', who wants to hammer it into
> the people's mind that CPM is and will remain the 'master and lord'
> of that area. Locals are afraid of talking to outsiders. A number
> of 'freshly burnt' houses standing along the ruins of the houses
> burnt earlier stand as witness to the relentless violence and the
> people's struggle against the SEZs.
> The CPM is now busy establishing its control here. Punitive taxes
> or fines are being imposed on BUPC sympathisers. The local CPM has
> issued diktats to the helpless people to fall in line. Simply put,
> they will have to join the CPM, their processions and conform to
> the rules set by the local party honchos. Those who were activists,
> for them more brutal trials are awaited — their houses have been
> looted and torched. In some cases, they were reportedly subjected
> to physical harassment and torture forcing them to return to the
> relief camp again.
> The operation shows all signs of the ruthlessness of a victorious
> army trying to subjugate the conquered land. There is hardly any
> attempt to win the hearts of the poor people who, till the other
> day, were mostly with the CPM. Of the 17 gram panchayats, 10 are
> with the CPM and rest with the TMC. The assembly seat of Nandigram
> is with Left Front partner CPI. Till the time the government came
> out with a notification for acquisition of land for setting up of a
> chemical hub here, the people of Nandigram were not really in a
> mood to rebel or resist. But, as members of the BUPC pointed out,
> the fear of losing their land and livelihood forced the people to
> unite in resisting the ruling establishment. Thus, among the top
> ranking leaders of BUPC one finds Md. Sufian, sabhapati of the
> Panchayat Samiti, and Abu Taher, both of them were once important
> CPM leaders of the area.
> It won't be out of place if we compare the Keshpur experiment with
> the current scenario. Around 2000-2001, CPM and TMC fought a
> pitched battle in Keshpur and Garbeta in West Midnapur. The TMC,
> with initial support from the locals, drove out CPM activists and
> established control over a vast terrain with the help of musclemen
> and smuggled arms. Hence, they won the Pashkura Lok Sabha by-
> election. The CPM took some time to regroup and then hit back with
> full backing of the state government.
> Led by Sushanta Ghosh, a minister in the Left Front government and
> assisted by Tapan Ghosh, Sukur Ali and others, they recaptured the
> area by mustering a bigger force. While the bloody turf war between
> the ruling party and the opposition was going on, there was not a
> single voice of protest from the civil society in West Bengal or
> Unlike Keshpur, this time, the fear of losing their land and
> livelihood to the proposed chemical hub has united CPM and TMC
> supporters of Nandigram, among other, ordinary farmers, women,
> Dalits and Muslims, who constitute the majority here. The BUPC
> leadership comprises the TMC, CPM dissidents, Congress, SUCI and
> other groups and individuals. Initially, the BUPC decided to act
> together irrespective of their individual party colours. But after
> March 14, when the Bhattacharya government announced that it won't
> be pushing the chemical hub in Nandigram, it tasted its first major
> success. And with that a new turf war started within the BUPC.
> Ignoring their earlier commitment, TMC leaders began to control the
> movement under the party with an eye on panchayat elections
> scheduled in May, 2008. Around that time, Kanu Sanyal, veteran
> Naxalite leader, noticed with shock that overnight Nandigram had
> been turned into a TMC bastion, with TMC flags fluttering from
> every visible corner. Later, TMC leader Shubhendu Adhikari
> reportedly announced that no political party other than the TMC
> would be allowed to function here.
> Reportedly, the BUPC was started collecting money from the locals
> for buying guns and ammunitions. Not all of these were voluntary
> donations. Rather, it is being said that people of doubtful
> allegiance were levied with punitive taxes. By resorting to these
> tactics, the BUPC leadership gradually turned this once popular
> movement into a factional one. Hence, when the CPM started their
> onslaught in a planned manner, the BUPC resistance crumbled rapidly.
> However, for how long can the CPM dominate Nandigram by brute
> force? The numbers of the dead and raped are still unfolding. Fact-
> finding teams are slowly disclosing names and details of the dead
> and wounded. Nandigram has become an epitome of resistance all over
> India and across the world — resistance against big corporate
> globalisation at the expense of poor farmers. And one thing is
> certain, Nandigram can't be turned into a Keshpur.
> Earlier, the CPM used to enjoy a kind of moral authority; they were
> accepted as the main arbitrator on behalf of the poor in West
> Bengal. Now, that image has come under a cynical scanner. Though
> under siege, Nandigram will always remain a symbol of people's
> rebellion and resistance.
> ARUN KHOTE
> Secretary- Media
> National Campaign On Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR)
> 8/1, 2nd Floor, South Patel Nagar,
> New Delhi-110008
> Ph: 011- 25842249 /25842250
> 0- 9350183802
> email: arun at ncdhr.org
> arun.khote at gmail.com
> ncdhr at vsnl.net
> Website: www.ncdhr.org
> Our struggle is not for wealth or for power. Our struggle is for
> freedom. Our is a struggle for the reclamation of Human personalty.
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