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Archive for July 4th, 2009

India: A detailed report from Lalgarh

Posted by n3wday on July 4, 2009

adivasi_women_bengal_lalgarh_uprisingMany thanks to Ka Frank for bringing this to our attention.

Lalgarh Update

Amit Bhattacharyya

22-23 June 2009

Let us pick up the threads from the last report (published by Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan as a book entitled Singur to Lalgarh via Nandigram, April 2009) which ended with the meeting between People’s Committee leaders and some members of the civil society with the chief electoral officer on 12 April. Ultimately it was decided by the election commission that polling booths would be shifted from areas that come under police boycott.  Lok Sabha elections throughout the country ended on 13 May and results were declared on 16 May. The phase of struggle that started from then on was something that was totally unprecedented in the history of our country—in depth, magnitude and significance.  The subsequent history can be divided into Phase III and Phase IV. Phase III is related to people’s movement, while Phase IV with the deployment of para-military forces, brutality perpetrated by them and resistance by the people and the Maoists.

Phase III

•    The attitude of the West Bengal ‘left-front’ government became clear when it refused to give permission to hold a demonstration in Kolkata to be organized jointly by CAVOW (Committee Against Violence on Women) and the women’s wing of the People’s Committee with traditional weapons on 5 June, as it would be political in nature.  The Kolkata police even threatened the local convenor of CAVOW with arrest if they did not listen. Such a decision is discriminatory. Processions with traditional weapons have always been allowed by the state government to the Muslims at the time of Muharram or to the Sikhs during their religious ceremonies. If the government allows these processions to take place as these were religious in nature, then how would they explain the holding of a procession in November 2007 by the CPI(M) after the recapture of Nandigram with adivasis wielding the same traditional weapons like bows, axes, etc.  The organisers were thus forced to shift the venue to West Medinipur. Traditional weapons are a part of tribal culture and the West Bengal government, acting in this way, actually rejected that very right of the tribal people. Superimposed upon it was the fact that when a cultural team went to Chakulia in Jharkhand on the Bengal-Jharkhand border to make propaganda among the adivasis there so that they could join the rally on 5 June, many of them were arrested by the Jharkhand police and a number of women were molested and one raped in Chakulia police station. When the Committee went to enter Jharkhand on their way to the Chakulia police station, a huge force was mobilised on the Jharkhand side and they were greeted with tear-gas shells.  Chhatradhar Mahato declared that the road from West Bengal to Jharkhand would be blocked to cut off supply lines if the arrested were not released. That resulted in the spread of the movement to new areas also. The administration retaliated with the promulgation of Section 144 of the Cr.PC within 2 kms of the Lalgarh police station.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Singur to Lalgarh via Nandigram: Rising Flames of People’s Anger against Displacement, Destitution and State Terror

Posted by n3wday on July 4, 2009

lalgarh_uprising_tribal_revolutionaries

This article is available at No 2 Displacement.

Singur to Lalgarh via Nandigram: Rising Flames of People’s Anger against Displacement, Destitution and State Terror


Amit Bhattacharyya

After the historic Nandigram struggle, it is now the turn of Lalgarh. If Singur faced the initial experience of defeat, Nandigram could legitimately take pride in her experience of victory in course of her long and bloody struggle against the oppressive anti-people West Bengal government, the ruling CPI (M)-sponsored hermads (goons) and police brutality. From the historical point of view, Nandigram elevated the struggle against displacement and the State-sponsored land-grab designs to a qualitatively higher level. It showed a path that, although rooted in the anti-colonial struggle of the 1940s, was new and had elements from which the struggling people of other regions could learn. And Nandigram had already found a rightful leading place in the history of just struggles in our country. The Lalgarh struggle started in a somewhat different context and so has many new features attached to it. It is the culmination of a long-standing discontent and sense of humiliation and persecution at the hands of the powers-that-be and their agencies that the downtrodden adivasis nurtured in their minds. The Lalgarh revolt is a revolt against the existing order of things, against humiliation, police brutality and for justice. Some of the methods the people of Lalgarh have adopted showed that they had already learnt from the experience of Nandigram.

Background

The place called Lalgarh is situated near Jhargram on the north-western side of the West Medinipur district of West Bengal. It is not very far from Salboni area located in the same district. Around 5000 acres of land have been acquired for the Salboni project, of which 4,500 acres have been handed over by the government and 500 acres have been purchased directly by Jindal from the landowners. According to newspaper reports, a large portion of this land was vested with the government for distribution among landless tribal people as part of the much-publicised land reform programme and also included forests tracts. Moreover, although the land was originally acquired for a “usual” steel plant, in September 2007, Jindal got SEZ status for the project, with active backing from the state government, which, as always, dispensed with the requirements for following most regulations for building and running the plant, including such crucial requirements as doing an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). A government that has in reality sold itself out to big capital—both domestic and foreign—is not at all bothered about the setting up of an SEZ having a polluting steel plant in the middle of a forested area, brutally displacing tribals from their land and endangering their means of survival. It is, thus, quite understandable that there could be major grievances among the tribals against this, although the mainstream media, as one of the spokespersons of the State policy, had constantly portrayed a very rosy picture of the entire project. Read the rest of this entry »

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