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Archive for June, 2009

Singur to Lalgarh via Nandigram

Posted by Admin on June 28, 2009


Rising Flames of People’s Anger against Displacement, Destitution and State Terror

by Amit Bhattacharyya Published on No to Displacement

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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Fanshen in Lalgarh: June 5 – June 22, 2009

Posted by Admin on June 28, 2009


Click here for a detailed booklet on Lalgarh movement »

The Lok Sabha elections throughout the country ended on 13 May and results were declared on 16 May, 2009. The phase of struggle in Lalgarh 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 I and Phase II. Phase I is related to people’s movement, while Phase II with the deployment of para-military forces, brutality perpetrated by them and resistance by the people and the Maoists.

Phase I: Movement between June 5 – June 18, 2009

Kolkata police stop demonstration in the city

The West Bengal government 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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rights Activists from Delhi stopped from going to Lalgarh

Posted by Admin on June 28, 2009


KOLKATA: Eight rights activists coming from Delhi were arrested at Midnapore railway station on their way to Lalgarh on Saturday evening. Earlier

in the day, former director-general of Punjab Police, KPS Gill, was also prevented from going to Lalgarh.

“The rights activists, including Gopal Menon, Raja Sarkhel and Raj Kishore Singh, were going to Lalgarh, where Section 144 has been imposed. We prevented them before violating the law,” said a senior police officer in Midnapore.

Later in the evening, however, the activists refused to accept bail and went on a hunger strike. They were arrested under Section 188 CrPC. “It was just a preventive arrest,” said a police officer.

TOI

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West Bengal tribal adviser resigns after Lalgarh atrocities

Posted by Admin on June 27, 2009


Kolkata, June 27 (IANS) A senior adviser to West Bengal’s Left Front government resigned Saturday to protest against the “torture” of tribals in the state’s Lalgarh area that has just been cleared of armed Maoists who had declared it a “liberated” zone.

“I have served this government with all sincerity. But the way the tribals in Lalgarh are being tortured, I never expected this from this government,” Dhirendra Nath Baske, a leading Santhali scholar, told IANS here.

Baske, adviser to the state government’s Santhali publication Pachhim Bangla, sent in his resignation to the director of information.

“I know the tribal psyche. They never want violence. But look at this government. Their police tortured women and innocent people after the landmine explosion on the chief minister’s convoy at Salboni in November.

“The tribals had only demanded that police tender an apology for the atrocities. But police did not. The government also did nothing. That means the government is supporting the police action,” said Baske, a former editor of Pachhim Bangla and a one-time acting editor of Adibasi Barta – a representative magazine of West Bengal Tribal Welfare Cooperative Board.

Security forces have launched a major offensive on the Maoists in the West Midnapore district enclave of Lalgarh, 200 km west of state capital Kolkata.

Baske was also cut up with the government for the neglect of the Santhali Academy.

“About seven years back, I had made arrangements to bring to Kolkata a rare miscrofilm from Oslo university on the history, society, culture and behavioural pattern of tribals 100 years back. But there was no follow-up.”

Sindh News

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Demonstration: At CPI (M) Central Office, New Delhi, to express solidarity with the tribals of Lalgarh-Jangal Mahal

Posted by Admin on June 26, 2009


Demonstration

Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) and Naujawan Bharat Sabha(NBS) call for a protest demonstration at CPI (M) Central office A K Gopalan Bhhawan( Bhai veer Singh Marg) in New Delhi in protest against the deployment of BSF, Assam Rifles, CRPF, Cobra and other elite paramilitary forces along with the West Bengal police against the tribal people in Lalgarh in Jungal Mahal.

And to express solidarity with the tribals of Lalgarh-Jangal Mahal

Demanding

= Immediate withdrawal of Central paramilitary forces and West Bengal state police forces from Lalgarh and adjoining areas,

= The Central Govt. and West Bengal Govt. should initiate dialogue with the tribals on their demands for the political solution and immediately address the demands of the tribal people in Lalgarh,

= Stop harassing women and children for refusing to be mistreated and exploited.

= Immediate steps be taken to end all sufferings of the tribals due to the actions of Central and state forces.

Join the protest demonstration of intellectuals, workers, students, youth, writers and social activists

At

CPI (M) Office, A K Gopalan Bhawan

Bhai Veer Singh Marg, New Delhi

On June 30 (Tuesday), 2009

At 11 AM

Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) &

Naujawan Bharat Sabha (NBS)

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LALGARH: The Bastion of People’s Resistance against State Repression

Posted by Admin on June 26, 2009


DSU JNU

Continued state repression had been underway in Lalgarh and its adjacent areas from November 2008, after the landmine blast on the convoy of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, while he was returning from the inauguration of the SEZ of Jindal Steels in Salboni, about 50 kilometres from Lalgarh. In the name of arresting ‘Maoists’, the police went on a rampage arbitrarily arresting villagers, most of them adivasis, and beating them up mercilessly, leaving three persons dead with many gravely injured. These well-planned brutalities have been targeted particularly against women and children. Following this the people had formed the Pulishi Santrash Birodhi Janasadharoner Committee (PSBJC) or the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities to resist the fascist onslaught of the CPI(M)-run state machinery.

Lalgarh and other areas were made out-of-bounds for the security forces in order to prevent them from carrying out their atrocities. In this moment of sharply divided battle-line between the adivasi peasants and the State reminiscent of the great Naxalbari uprising, DSU felt the need to visit Lalgarh with the aim of extending solidarity to the ongoing people’s movement, and to bring out the ground reality that has been deliberately overlooked or maliciously obscured by the mainstream corporate media and pro-state forces. A nine-member DSU fact-finding team visited Lalgarh from 7th to 10th June 2009. The team visited over 25 villages in that region and interacted extensively with the people. From these interactions it had become clear that the incidents of police atrocities in November last year were not unique, but merely a continuation of such state and police terror that the people of the region have been subjected to since 2000. What is unique this time is the people’s resistance, which has taken an organized and sustained shape this time around. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Stop Police-military action in Lalgarh! Resolve problems through discussions!’

Posted by Admin on June 26, 2009


DSU JNU

Let us look at the context of the present situation in Lalgarh. Ever since the police committed atrocities in November last, people’s discontent took the form of a mass rebellion against state terror. The joint attacks by the police and the main ruling party were repulsed by the adivasi people of the area under the leadership of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities. Four members of the committee lost their lives as a result of such attacks.

Despite persistent demands for the punishment of those policemen who committed crimes, the state government has done absolutely nothing in this regard. On the contrary, in the post-election period, they had made the blueprint for police action and further complicated the situation by arresting some people on cooked-up charges. On 12 June at Dharampur, the hermads (goons) of the main ruling party launched attacks against the members of the People’s Committee. The consequent resistance against such attacks took the form of a mass revolt and the residence of a person identified as an oppressor and his party office was attacked.

We hold that the inefficiency of the State government as also the backing given to unholy forces by them have created such an explosive situation. The steps the state government has taken for its ‘solution’ will create a dangerous situation and lead to more bloodshed. The employment of the central para-military force and the butcher ‘cobra’ units effectively implies declaration of war against the people. Needless to say, it would close the door for the restoration of democratic atmosphere.

We believe that the Lalgarh struggle is rooted in centuries of deprivation, exploitation and humiliation. It is rooted in socio-economic exploitation. It can never be an ‘administrative’ or ‘law and order’ problem. The question is political, not military. We condemn in unequivocal terms this deployment of para-military forces by the state and central governments in Lalgarh. We maintain that the state should immediately come out of this path of bloody confrontation and sit down for talks with the representatives of the struggling people of Jangal Mahal and make a sincere attempt to arrive at a solution.

Kolkata, 18-6-09

Signatories:

Mahasweta Devi, Aparna Sen, Bibhas Chakrabarty, Sujato Bhadra, Amit Bhattacharyya, Joy Goswami, Subhendu Dasgupta, manas Joardar, Chaitali Datta, Tarun Naskar, Tarun Sanyal, Pallab Kirtaniya, Kalyan Roy, Bratya Basu, Shanta Dey, Bhaskar Gupta, Debabrata Panda, Jibankrishna Dey, Debaprasad Roychoudhuri, Sanchita Bhoumik, Kamala Adak, Gopa Mitra, Layla Khaled, Ratna Sengupta, Ranjan Chakraborty, Siddhartha Saha, Sukhendu Bhattacharya, Gopa Mukherjee, Debashis Goswami, Dipanan Roychoudhry and many others

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Stop para-military operation in Lalgarh! Stop atrocities on the protesting people in the name of ‘flushing out’ Maoists!

Posted by Admin on June 26, 2009


DSU JNU

A war is being waged by the Indian state on the most marginalized people of Lalgarh and Jangal Mahal (the forested and tribal dominated areas of Medinipur, Bankura and adjoining districts) in West Bengal right now. 11 companies of Para military forces including 6 Companies of BSF, one company of CoBRA have been deployed. 11 more companies of CRPF (and if required the notorious Grey Hounds) are on their way. This huge number of army is being posted to “sanitize” the entire Lalgarh, Shalboni, Ramgarh and Goaltor Block, off a ‘handful of Maoists’! Thus ‘Operation Lalgarh’ has become the news of the day.

Unfortunately even after the sixth day of operation this huge army with its full force has failed to ‘flush out the handful of Maoists’. Rather, what they have been doing in the name of ‘combating Maoists’ is to unleash utter state terror on the villagers. The same villagers who had ‘dared’ to boycott police for the last seven months as a retaliation to the extreme terror unleashed on them on last November, were beaten mercilessly by the police and para-military on their way to the ‘operation’. They have been dragged out of their houses, beaten up ruthlessly and forced to stay in ‘relief camps’. They have been used to detect land mines. Their drinking water has been polluted at a number of places by the para-military. Their houses have been ransacked. A number of cases of molestation of women have also been reported in the media. The women have been specially beaten around their private parts. The local schools have been turned into temporary ‘relief’ camps. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lalgarh, an Icon of Adivasi Defiance

Posted by Admin on June 26, 2009


An article on Lalgarh by Koustav De from Monthly Review published on 17/12/08

by Koustav De

Lalgarh was an obscure place in West Midnapore district of West Bengal (India). Before November 2008, it was just another village, 42 kilometers from the Midnapore railway station. Not any more. It is the centre of the movement of people who constitute almost 10% of the population of India. Lalgarh is now an icon of the defiance of the adivasi (tribal/indigenous population) against their history of discrimination and oppression.

The Shalbani land mine explosion on 2nd November 2008, which was targeted at the Chief Minister’s convoy returning from the proposed site of Jindal Steel Plant, resulted in hyperactivity of the police, who immediately had to prove their proactive nature by identifying the ‘culprits,’ or rather scapegoats. As always they chose easy targets, tribal people from Lalgarh. Read the rest of this entry »

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Maoist leader leads rally near Lalgarh

Posted by Admin on June 26, 2009


Maoist leader leads PSBJC rally near Lalgarh Raktima Bose

Even as Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty was holding discussions with senior officials on the joint operation

— Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

STIFF RESISTANCE: Hundreds of supporters of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities at a rally in Dharampur near Lalgarh on Wednesday.

LALGARH: Even as West Bengal’s Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty was holding meetings with senior police and administration officials here on Wednesday on the operations against Maoists and the Maoist-backed Police Santrosh Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSJBC), activists of the PSBJC took out a procession, led by a prominent Maoist leader, at Dharampur – not more than 10 km from here.

Starting from Goumichowk, six km from here, the PSBJC supporters marched down the narrow gravel path through villages with traditional weapons, beating drums and shouting slogans against the police and the CPI(M).

Maoist leader Bikash, who came into spotlight after holding a press conference on June 15 where he admitted that Maoists were supporting the PSBJC movement, moved around with an AK-47 toting henchman, supervised the crowd and ordered it to maintain order.

Bikash said though the security forces reached Lalgarh without much resistance, they would not find it easy to penetrate further.

Asked about their strategy against the security forces, which were camping at the Lalgarh Police Station since June 20, he said: “Time will tell. But we will stop them for sure.”

At the end of the procession, several local PSBJC leaders addressed the crowd.

One of them, a close aide of Bikash, Asit Mahato, said roads had been dug up at several places and camps set up to keep an eye on police movement.

“The joint forces have to walk over our bodies if they try to enter the area beyond Lalgarh,” he said.

More forces arrive

Though there was no force movement on Wednesday, seventh day of the offensive against Maoists and the PSJBC, combing operations in adjacent villages continued. On the request of the State government, 10 companies of the Border Security Force reached Lalgarh.

Some companies of the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) and the Central Reserve Police Force also reached Goaltore, 20 km from here.

Distribution of relief materials resumed on the day at the Block Development Office here and long queues of men and women were seen outside the office premises.

Remanded

Ananya Dutta writes from Kolkata:

Spokesperson for the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in West Bengal Gaur Chakraborty was remanded to police custody for 14 days by a court in Kolkata on Wednesday.

He was produced at the Bankshal Court where he was remanded to custody by Acting Chief Metropolitan Magistrate C. Bhattacharya.

On Tuesday evening, the city police apprehended Mr. Chakraborty outside the office of a private news channel in the Park Street area. He was later arrested under Section 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

The Communist Party of India (Maoist) was declared a banned organisation under the Act by the Centre on June 22.

The Hindu

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CPI Maoist spokesperson Gaur Chakraborty remanded to Police custody

Posted by Admin on June 25, 2009


Kolkata At 72, Gaur Chakraborty may have served in many outfits, but his ultra-left leanings are still as firm as they were in his student days. Today, as he takes on the Communist parties he has been associated with in the past, there is a note of disillusionment in the voice of the man who has been arrested for playing a spokesperson for the CPI(Maoist), which has just been banned by the Centre.

“This is the beginning of Fascist activities of the Left Front government,” Gaur said as he was being taken from Bankshal Court to Kolkata Police headquarters.

Gaur’s wife Mukta Keshi, who was present at the court premises on Wednesday, was at pains to point out his husband’s sympathies to the Maoist cause. “Gaur has believed in Communist-Maoist ideology since his student days,” she said.

Sources in the state intelligence say Gaur had been closely involved with CPI(ML) People’s War Group, popularly known as PWG, which emerged as an extremist force in Andhra Pradesh in the early 90s. PWG was banned in December 2001 after Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance was promulgated by the Centre, which later became the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) before being allowed to lapse.

Police arrested Gaur in March 2005 from his residence at Madanpur in North 24-Parganas for his links with Maoist outfits. After being booked on charges of criminal conspiracy, killing and plotting of landmine blast in West Midnapore and Purulia, Gaur was jailed at Midnapore and Purulia for more than a year and later released on bail. The charge-sheet in the case has been filed and the case is still pending, says Mukta.

According to her, Gaur, who once worked as a hawker in trains, was associated with the CPI before 1967. He later joined the CPI(ML). “Gaur used to hawk in local trains for a living and was also an active member of the hawkers union led by Left parties.

A close associate of Gaur said even after the Naxalite movement crumbled in early 70’s in West Bengal, he maintained his contacts with Naxal leaders and later joined CPI-ML (Party Unity), a breakaway organisation of the Naxals.

In 1998, CPI-ML (Party Unity) merged with the PWG. In 1998-99, when the PWG was active in West Midnapore and Bankura, Gaur had visited Belpahari and Lalgarh.

In September 2004, PWG and MCC(I) merged to form the CPI(Maoist). Gaur was picked up in March 2005 for his links with the CPI(Maoist) and sent to jail. After his release from jail, Chakraborty joined Ganapratirodh Mancha, an arm of the RDF, an ultra-left outfit, and became its state committee member in 2006.

On December 14, 2008, Gaur announced his new identity as a spokesman of CPI(Maoist) and quit the Ganapratirodh Mancha. Till his arrest on June 23, he maintained he was not a member of CPI(Maoist), but merely a hired spokesperson and that was never involved in killings or violence.

Expressindia

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Artists write to Chidambaram, Stop repression

Posted by Admin on June 25, 2009


Lalgarh (West Bengal), June 25 (IANS) Eminent artists have written to Home Minister P. Chidambaram complaining about atrocities by security forces, whose presence in this trouble zone was beefed up Thursday by 1,000 paramilitary troopers crossing over from Jharkhand.
“We have written to union Home Minister P. Chidambaram based on our experiences. We have demanded that the security operations be stopped and a ceasefire declared to facilitate talks between the ultras and the administration,” said theatre personality Kaushik Sen.

“We have also written to the minister about our experiences and the tales of atrocities committed by the forces we heard from the villagers,” Sen told IANS in Kolkata.

Sen was part of a delegation of intellectuals opposed to West Bengal’s ruling Left Front who Sunday visited Lalgarh, a former rebel-held enclave, 200 kms from the state capital Kolkata, where the state had virtually abdicated its role to hundreds of Maoist extremists till the security operations were launched June 18.

The West Midnapore district administration has already filed a complaint against the intellectuals in the Lalgarh police station alleging they had violated the prohibitory orders in force in the area on the assembly of more than four persons.

Expressing surprise at the state government action, filmmaker Aparna Sen said: “We were in touch with the chief secretary before our visit. He never told us about the prohibitory order. Also, we went there openly. There were lot of mediapersons with us. Why didn’t the police stop us then?”

As the artists geared up for the fight, so did the security forces.

Thaindian

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