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.
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 »