[Marxism] Nandigram: Barbarians on the Rampage: But Tide of Protests Rises

Sukla Sen suklasenp at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Nov 10 08:45:44 MST 2007

Barbarians on the Rampage: But Tide of Protests Rises

[The conscientious and courageous act of Aparna Sen
parallels the rejection of award by Aditi Mangaldas
snubbing the murderous Modi government of Gujarat.


Nandigram: Aparna Sen to boycott film fest

Express news service

Posted online: Thursday, November 08, 2007 at 0000 hrs

Nandigram has played spoilsport for the forthcoming
Kolkata Film Festival with filmmaker Aparna Sen
deciding to boycott the event in protest against the
renewed violence. Sen who was supposed to inaugurate
the Film Market, a high-profile corporate event
associated with the Kolkata Film Festival, called up
Film Festival director Nilanjan Chatterjee to inform
him that she will not be available for the event.

“I have always felt very close to the Kolkata Film
Fest, been very proud of it and thought of it as my
own. So it is with a very heavy heart that I have
decided to stay away. I could not bring myself to be
associated with it after the renewed spate of violence
in Nandigram,” Sen told The Indian Express. Earlier,
Sen had openly protested against the March 14 police
firing in Nandigram in public rallies organised by the
city’s intellectual community.

Sen has also resigned from her position as an
executive committee member of the Kolkata Film
Festival. Asked if she had formally intimated the
state government authorities about her decision, she
said, “I have told them about my decision over the

The Film Market, scheduled to be held from November 11
to 17, will be organised by the Confederation of
Indian Industry (CII) at Nandan. The market is
expected to provide a platform for leading film
distributors to showcase their creation and promote
regional cinema to national and international markets.
The inaugural function will also be graced by director
Shyam Benegal and actor Soumitra Chatterjee.

Bengal Governor – Left Front government cross swords
Shyamal Sarkar, 10 November 2007, Saturday

Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi is outraged with
the mindless violence in Nandigram. In a press release
he expressed his dismay bringing on a counter salvo
from CPI (M) leaders who have described his role as
“undemocratic and unconstitutional”.

A VERITABLE duel is on between West Bengal Governor
Gopal Krishna Gandhi and the Left Front government,
entrenched in the state for over three decades. Late
yesterday, the governor, in a press release expressed
his dismay and outrage at the situation in Nandigram.

In a strongly worded release he said, “The ardour of
Deepavali has been dampened in the whole state by the
events in Nandigram. Several villages in Nandigram are
oscillating from the deepest gloom to panic. Large
numbers of armed persons from outside the district
have, it is undeniable, forced themselves on to
villages in Nandigram Block I and II for territorial
assertion. Thousands of villagers have consequently
been intimidated into leaving their homes

The CPI (M)’s initial reaction was that the governor’s
statement was ‘unfortunate’. Today, following an
emergency meeting of CPI (M)’s state secretariat,
party state secretary and Left Front Chairman Biman
Bose at a press conference said, “We are pained by the
governor’s statement. He has breached his
constitutional right.” He described it as
“undemocratic and unconstitutional”.

The governor’s reaction comes following the unabated
turf battle and the sheer lawlessness prevailing in
Nandigram. In a bid to recapture their villagers from
Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) clutches,
marauding CPI (M) supporters unleashed a wave of
violence burning down homes to rubble and ashes since
early this week. All roads leading to and from
Nandigram were sealed and journalists denied entry.
Some were attacked and their cameras smashed. Gun
toting Marxist supporters were said to have entered
homes of those owing allegiance to the BUPC and asked
people to come out. They were made shout Inquilab
Zindabad and told that would be the only slogan in
these parts. The police is nowhere in sight. Thousands
have fled their home and taken shelter in the
compounds of schools, college and the Nandigram
thana.National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM)
began a 48-hour fast on Saturday to protest against
the violence and violation of human rights in

Yesterday a group of CPI (M) MPs and later state
Congress leaders met the governor at Raj Bhavan.
Earlier, social activist Medha Patkar met him and
narrated her experience. She was attacked and
prevented from going to Nandigram. Her

The governor issued a press release soon after these
meeting where he said “the most accurate description
for Nandigram is the one used by our home secretary,
namely, it has become ‘a war zone’.

“I am fully aware of the fact that earlier in the
year, many villagers in Nandigram who were perceived
as sympathisers of the ruling establishment had been
obliged to leave the villages and seek shelter in
Khejuri. I am also aware of the apprehensions that
some Maoists, their numbers being unverified, are
believed to have entered the area,” the release said.

It continued “
..in order that the isolation of
Nandigram from the rest of the state ends.

“I have made it clear that unless these steps are
taken within hours and the syndrome of “capture and
recapture” is not ended, the beginnings for a resumed
dialogue through the package announced by the chief
secretary last night will not get off the ground and
the peace talks process will remain grounded. Peace
talks must resume soon and, despite the lateness of
the hour, I welcome the pragmatic optimism expressed
in this regard by our elder statesman, Shri Jyoti

“Let me conclude by saying Enough is Enough. Peace and
security should be restored, without any delay from
where they have been evicted from Nandigram.”

Senior CPI (M) leaders went into a huddle this morning
at the party headquarters at Alimuddin Street over the
state governor’s public stand. In the afternoon, Biman
Bose at a press conference said “We are pained by the
governor’s statement. He has breached his
constitutional right.”

Bose said the governor’s action was “undemocratic and
unconstitutional” and it will only embolden the forces
bent on violence. Critical of the governor, the CPI
(M) leader wondered why the governor had chosen to
react during Deepavali. “If he is aware, as he seems
to be from his statement, he should have reacted
during Durga Puja and Id when the BUPC and the Maoists
were capturing village after village along with goons
from outside the state. He chose to make the statement
when people are returning home peacefully,” Bose said
and added that the term ‘recapture” was wrongly used.

“Why did he choose to go public instead of talking to
the government? Bose asked. It is not the role
expected of a governor and outside is the ambit of the
governor’s constitution authority. Bose made it clear
that the government’s statement was not “impartial”.

In March this year when 14 people were killed in
police firing the governor had issued a statement
saying “the news of deaths from police firing in
Nandigram this morning has filled me with a sense of
cold horror.”

With criticism of the Marxist government growing over
the Nandigram imbroglio, film maker Aparna Sen, her
father -- film critic Chiddananda Dasgupta and film
maker Rituporno Ghosh have boycotted the ensuing
Kolkata Film Festival. Dasgupta has resigned from the
post of chairman of the festival committee while his
daughter has stepped away as member of the committee.
“Everybody has the right to criticize the ruling
government and this right comes from the civil
society,” she said adding that she is pained by what
was happening in Nandigram.



Nandigram like a concentration camp: Medha Patkar

Indo-Asian News Service

Saturday, November 10, 2007 (Kolkata)

Assaulted and intercepted by the Communist Party of
India-Marxist (CPI-M) for trying to reach Nandigram,
social activist Medha Patkar dubbed the ''war zone''
of West Bengal's East Midnapore constituency a
concentration camp where the communists have unleashed
a reign of terror to recapture lost ground.

''With no channel for redressal of grievances,
Nandigram is like a concentration camp. The people are
helpless there,'' Medha Patkar said in an interview.

She geared up for a fresh battle after she and her
associates were punched, pulled by hair and hurled
with the choicest of invectives on the way to
Nandigram where the ruling CPI(M) is out to regain
base by launching a massive onslaught on their rival -
the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC).

The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM)
leader on Saturday began a 48-hour fast to protest the
brutality and violation of human rights in Nandigram
by the communists with whom she had fought many
battles in other states till West Bengal's Singur and
Nandigram flared up over land acquisition for setting
up industries under the leadership of reformist Chief
Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

''I have approached the National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC) on Nandigram. This is blatant
violation of human rights. In Nandigram there are
thousands of injured at the moment,'' she said soon
after submitting a memorandum for action to West
Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi.

''I was not allowed to reach Nandigram, but I won't
give up. We are starting a hunger strike for two days.
When the nation celebrates Diwali, the festival of
lights, in West Bengal it is a Diwali of darkness. So
to protest this physical onslaught of the CPI(M) we
would fast and appeal to the conscience of the nation
to be awakened and act,'' Patkar said.

''We are also holding a mass rally on November 14
where everyone is requested to join without any
political banner,'' she added.

Stinging rebuke

A few hours after Medha met Gandhi, the Governor came
out with a stinging rebuke of the West Bengal
government and the CPI(M).

''The manner in which the recapture of Nandigram
villages is being attempted is totally unlawful and
unacceptable,'' the Governor said in a statement.

Medha Patkar along with leading intellectuals and
rights activists sought Gandhi's help to open up
Nandigram to human rights groups.

''We demand that peaceful defenders of human rights
belonging to known peoples' organisations be protected
and their entry to Nandigram area facilitated,'' said

''It is indeed shocking the way the CPI(M) hooligans
are behaving. The apathy, inaction and both direct and
indirect support of the police to the CPI(M) hooligans
indicates a breakdown of state machinery resulting in
non-availability of any channel for security or
redressal of grievances of common people,'' she said.

''Nandigram is under fire and scare. On the festive
days of Kali Puja the light emerging from the land of
martyrdom is not the lamps women would light in their
houses but from the burning houses,'' said Medha.

She was held by the West Bengal police at Singur on
December 2, 2006 when she reached to protest against
the acquisition of farmland for the Tata Motors small
car project.

''We have to appeal to the Red Cross for taking relief
to Nandigram. The people there are facing brutality by
the CPI(M),'' she said.

Invasion of Nandigram

As Medha flexed her resolve to stay back in Bengal and
draw attention to the ongoing CPI(M) invasion in
Nandigram, she was supported by Kolkata's seething

''As a protest we are not going to the film festival
this year. The festival is organised by the same
government which is organising the Nandigram
bloodbath,'' acclaimed playwright Saoli Mitra said.

Filmmaker Aparna Sen on Thursday announced her
decision of boycotting the film festival.

''Though the festival is dear to me I refuse to be a
part of the festival in the backdrop of the Nandigram
violence which is worse this time,'' Aparna Sen said
immediately after returning to Kolkata from Mumbai.

''This is a kind of self-censorship as we artistes are
taking our own decision driven by our own conscience.
With a person of Sen's stature boycotting the
festival, the message would be loud and clear,''
playwright and film and serial actor Kaushik Sen said.

''Nandigram has turned into a war zone,'' West Bengal
Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy had admitted on

While the CPI(M) maintains that peace is returning to
Nandigram, the human rights activists and political
opponents said a new reign of terror has been
unleashed in Nandigram where media and social
activists were not allowed to enter.

The death toll in Nandigram violence has risen to 32
since January when the region flared up over proposed
land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ),
including a chemical hub, a plan that was later
scrapped by the state government in the face of stiff

Though the SEZ was scrapped, a turf battle continued
in Nandigram between the CPI(M) and the Trinamool
Congress-supported BUPC in the run-up to the local
body elections in May next year.


Another minister decides to resign over Nandigram
10 Nov 2007, 1812 hrs IST,PTI

KOLKATA: In a jolt to the ruling Left Front, West
Bengal PWD minister and RSP leader Kshiti Goswami on
Saturday decided not to continue in the Buddhadeb
Bhattacharjee cabinet and sought his party's
permission to resign over continuing violence in

"I want to resign because I cannot accept what is
happening in Nandigram. We have been deceived by the
CPM. One thing is being said, another thing is being
done," Goswami told reporters here.

"According to our party rule, I have to tell my party
that I want to resign and have sought our secretary's
permission to do so," he said.

When asked what he would do if the RSP refused to
accept his resignation, Goswami replied, "Let me see
what the party does."

"I protested against violence which has been
continuing for the last 10 months and the government
had received enough time to act, but it was not
sincere," the minister added.


Mamata resigns from LS over Nandigram
10 Nov 2007, 1717 hrs IST,PTI

SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates
KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on
Saturday announced her resignation as MP from the Lok
Sabha in protest against the violence at Nandigram.

Announcing her resignation at a press conference,
Mamata Banerjee, who represents the South Kolkata Lok
Sabha constituency, said, "I am sending my resignation
letter to all concerned."

Citing the possible reason for her move, she said "it
is no longer possible to carry on political activities
in West Bengal under the oppressive, one-party rule of
the CPM".

Banerjee, however, did not clarify to whom she had
sent her resignation letter.

She also announced her party's plans to 'paralyse'
life in the state for an indefinite period from

"The CPM in a planned manner is resorting to violence
to recapture Nandigram totally," Banerjee said.

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