NANDIGRAM: People should be in, terror should be out

People should be in, terror should be out

Return and rehabilitation of people to be asserted and supported

The Complex political strategy tried by the CPI (M) Govt and the party in 'Operation Nandigram' is by now well known and exposed. Even when their declaring attainment of peace and appealing to the people who were compelled to run away from the villages to return back, it is obvious that the communities are far from retaining its nature, culture and habitats with livelihoods.

The so called peace in the villages such as Gokulnagar, Sonachura and Garchakraberia is totally a fictitious and could be claimed only after the armed attacks by the cadres had achieved the goal of wiping out opposition per say.

The relief camp in Nandigram still is housing a few thousand people continues to be the centre of attention to anyone who wants to help Nandigram. The relief material which has reached the camp is to be delicately distributed avoiding the approach of charity on one hand and ensuring the struggle on the other.

It is encouraging that various organizations who have allied to form the Ganamancha have also been contributing and mobilising relief materials sent regularly in trucks to the camp residents.

The need of the hour is to be selective in gathering and sending relief focussing on tarpaulin and other materials which would be long term use and the families start their new life in the old villages again. The immediate need of Lungis, children's clothes, undergarments are being met with through the mobilised money and material at the Ganamancha in Kolkata. The need is also felt to provide voluntary help to the Bhoomi Ucched Pratirodh Samiti in management and distribution of relief.

The phase of rehabilitation has just begun with groups of families shifting back from the camps to the villages such as Gokulnagar, Daudpur and Kalicharanpur as well as part of Samsabad and Ahmedabad. Some of the families have had to return from other villages due to unbearable threats and torture at the hands of CPIM goons like cadres.

The people realise that CRPF has made some difference while CPIM has not taken party level decision to stop and withdraw its cadres. Everyone therefore felt a strong need to have a CRPF camp at few places such as Sonachura, Satangabari, Ranichowk and Jambari while there may be no need to have a camp in Khejuri and Khudabari.

We assist the situation at the camp and in the villages through a visit to Nandigram, Sonachura and Gokulnagar where we stayed last night with the newly shifted families who were still in the temporary sheds put up in the villages.

A number of cases of beatings, firing, arson and loot keep coming up in the interaction with the affected families. We could gather information about the scenario through detail dialogue and investigation at every place. The following are some of those:-

1. Subol Majhi- missing in Sonachura since he participated in the procession on November 10th. Left with 2 children Raju and Sonali, mother is frustrated and yet trying to get back her husband, along with at least 40+ about whom there is no clue whatsoever. Narmada a lady from Sonachura is said to have witnessed the firing which hit him and he been carried away by the CPIM cadres.

2. Ansura missing from Satangabari while her father Sheikh Moti is trying his best with no result till date. He came from Calcutta in search of Ansura but cannot continue this with meagre resources and irresponsive Government agencies. He also tried to go back to his village Satangbari but without CRPF. He was caught by the C PIM threat to sign the papers and hence is still in the camp.

3. Sabita Pramanik of Gokulnagar tried to go back to her village 8 days ago but finding the CPIM cadres moving around and feeling intimidated and threatened back within two days.

4. The rapist in Gokulnagar was named by women as Kalia Garu, Sudarshan Garu and Sagar Das.

5. Rahul Mir and Rahima Bibi of Satangbari feel devastated as Rehna Bibi had to remain away with her relatives since she was raped on 6th of November, 07. She was treated at Basgaoura Hospital of Nandigram Police Precinct and she identifies rapist as Mir Ahsan, Mir Kalu, and Mir Illias were CPIM men and still live in the village. They do not see an immediate possibility to return back. and

6. Snehanshu Das with his son and Puna Harekrishna Das also reported beating by CPIM leader Kalia Garu in Gokulnagar just 4 days back.

7. Basudev Mondal has now returned from SSKM Hospital, Kolkata. Had faced bullet on 28th October when he was returning home leaving the procession, feeling scared by the firing. He washed his feet in the talao (Tank) but could not reach his house. His better after operation but not sure whether his complaint is admitted as FIR.

8. Bulu Mir is a child of about 8 years faced bullet when he was merely playing outside and tried to run away to reach home on 31st of October. Living in Satangabari, he was studying in Class IV in the Ranichowk School, but he is in the camp with his mother today not feeling well and no cash for buying fruits or special food to eat.

9. Lal Mohan Das of Simalkunda who too faced bullet is still in the SSKM, Hospital Kolkata. All his relatives are in the camp and feel shattered to think of the future. They remember that he was hit with the bullet when he was outside the house when the firing started even in the daytime at 4o Clock in the evening by the CPIM cadres. They have come to know that their house id looted by the cadres who broke the lock and entered in and apparently, their fish in the pond is also taken away.

10. Bindu Das is shattered to have left her house in the Gokulnagar and to have only one resort, the camp. Her husband Panchanan Das was killed on the 14th of March and died three days after firing in Tamluk. She remembers having his body after 3 full days.

11. It was on 14th March that Sailabala Dhar broke her knee bone in the Rod and Stick charged by police but this time she feels devastated on having to runaway from her house leaving the paddy in the field which is not sure whether it is still there or is already harvested by the CPIM cadres.

12. Hazra Bibi of Usman Chowk had borne the pain of fracture on her shoulder and this time in November her house is fully looted and is in the camp with her three children, pauperised.

13. 12 persons belonging to Sonachura and Kalicharanpur are known to have been abducted and taken towards Orissa side. One of them has runaway and returned back and has identified about four but not others, not knowing where they are today.

Stories are unending and indicate the torture faced and is being faced indicate the inhuman ways of occupying the land and compelling the people to accept the CPIM terror, adopted by the ruling party.


We reached Adhikari Para of Gokulnagar late night with patrolling and protecting police force{including Intelligence} sent by the West Bengal Government who accompany day and night (tagging behind like a Gluey Sticker)

In the school of Gokulnagar 26 Jawans of EFR(Eastern Frontier Rifles) were found camping since last 3 days with one assistant Sub-Inspector in Charge.They work under the WB Police and hence still demanding CRPF camp in Gokulnagar.

We ate and stayed with families who have returned back just a day ago from the camp and put up a Tarpaulin shed for all those who have lost everything in the arson and loot. Houses of Srikant Charan Das Adhikary and Swadesh Das Adhikary stand witness.

They are determined to stay put while cannot say that there is peace in the village as yet. They need support material and moral both. Tapan Das Adhikary, Swapan Das Adhikary, Sasank Das Adhikary, Mahadeb Das Adhikary, Piyush Das Adhikary have all lost their houses while some of those were also burnt down.

Saroj Das Adhikary has a cemented house which could not be burnt but has faced loot of Goldsmiths shop in Tekhali Bazaar in March itself. Bhim Mondal lost his laundry shop and Debabrata Das Adhikary lost his cloth shop in the same to similar loot.

The worst affected and destroyed the house of Swadesh Das Adhikary who used to be active in mobilising and organizing people against land acquisition. His 90 years old mother is almost deaf was compelled to work in a small of land in front of the remains of her house digging out potatoes which Swadesh had sown but not seeing any safe ground to build her son's life.

All together about 8 to 10 houses in the lane were burnt while 12 are fully looted.

The landless are destitutes today with no farm labour employed by the farmers who are themselves penniless or have runaway from the houses. Many of them have not been able to go to the markets and earn from the years long occupations since are being threatened by CPIM cadres and leaders who identify them and ask them to leave. Shiv Sankar Sahu was in the retail business of florist in the Howrah market and on being threatened by Sudhanshu Shekhar and comrades is unable to pursue the scene. A young boy of 30 years, most articulate and aware of the politics around, he cannot easily find an alternative livelihood.

Sabitri Das with her husband not able to work in the sweets shop of Haldia is living on the earnings of her daughter working as a maid servant. Another woman stood by us feeling helpless since her husband faced injury during beatings and is unable to work as labourer's even months later. All these women however have no fear to identify the names of the CPIM leaders in the village were accompanied by a large number of outsiders, supposedly the Harmads (Armed Hired Attackers).

We did meet a small vendor, Sarana Gayana Das who complained, while some of the city and members with a red band on the wrist watched, of facing ouster and spending months in the Khejuri camp near CPIM party office where according to him there were 50 families from Garupara, Gokulnagar.

We did find out that about five houses of CPIM cadres in the same hamlet were attacked by the BUPC supporters who could not bear the continuous threats and attacks by the party. Those who left because of this awareness has returned back a to the village as confirmed by Ramesh Adi who stayed in the Tekhali Camp for 3 months after being ousted from his plant nursery and small vegetable gardens.

Others informed us of the panchayat itself taken action against him since; in spite of being a CPIM supporter for over a year he shifted over to BUPC and faced the brunt.

The stories are unending……….. Yet a hope arises out of the rich natural resource still standing with thick tree cover, the fish in the pond, the paddy, potato and varied vegetables in the small and large chunks of land which is still not grabbed.


The bazaar appear to be normal but not one person we met would confirm the claim of Ruling Party (State Government Communist Party of India {Marxists) that there is peace.

Every shopkeeper could confirm that as long as CRPF camp continues there would be no clashes but no one would guarantee of law and order thereafter once the camp is shifted.

It was Samiran Das (Retd Indian Army) who had witnessed killings during the unarmed procession in Sonachura on November 10th, 07 and expressed pain over the dirty politics polluting people's lives.

Coming across a woman who was complaining about her husband been attacked by the BUPC members, we went with her to her house and met a few families supporting CPIM. Some of them including Bhavesh Samant, Bimal Sahu, Sukhdev Sahu, Joru Samant, Susant Melna and Gurupada Das faced beatings at a liquor shops which was attacked by BUPC on October 17th the 1st day of Durga Puja (Shasti). During discussion it came out that were not targeted as CPIM members but faced the attack on the liquor shop of Sukhdev Shahu. None of them have complained to the police station since the hairline fractures of few bones could be Bourne by them than the further continuation of the conflict. They told us that almost 80 percent of the villagers including all the land holders have been against the chemical hub, SEZ (Special Economic Zone), while the rest
20 Percent supporting it mostly included the landless.

The village felt shattered on witnessing no event this year, even a cultural meet at the Century old Chandimandir, where all the villages beyond caste and creed would gather.


Sonachura has always been a village with sprit and strength of opposition to the chemical hub and the land grab. January to March 2007 happenings had seen killings and brutality faced by this village including rape and molestation and yet thousand would crowd for the meetings and raise a unanimous voice against giving up land and life.

Today the streets are silent and houses appear to be dead. A handful of shops which were open has subdued shopkeepers who slowly opened up and gathered carriage to tell us what was wrong but only after we asked the West Bengal Police to keep away. From what we gathered the number of houses burnt in Sonachura is comparatively smaller while many shops and houses are looted. The houses burnt to ashes belonged to the frontline activist BUPC including Milan Pradan, Sabuj Pradhan, Shivas Mondol and Ajoy Mondal. Sankar Das has no business to run since his STD shop is destroyed. Manik Bera and Balaram Das do not have their tailoring shops anymore. The shops selling watches and mobiles belonging to Chitta Patra and Pratap Mondal, tea shop of Shakti Pal and Bakery
of Nanto Mondal stand devastated. Not one shop belonging to CPIM seems to have been destroyed.

Ten's of families belonging to the ruling party and supporting SEZ had no doubt left the village and stayed in the camp at Khejuri for months but except those who were directly involved in rape or molestation, others we were told, were never stopped from coming back. The role played by CPIM local leaders such as Naba Samantha and Pratap Sahu is well known and referred by the villagers with disgust and contempt. It is true that it was the elder brother of Naba, Sankar Samanta who was killed in the arson by furious mob after the CPIM cadres and police together had killed the BUPC activists in January 2007. However is the reaction, so brutal as to bring in the large force of Armed Party Cadres and paid assassins, justifiable? Is the ruling party supposed to be controlling violence permitting and justifying it in the name of revenge fullness, remind one of post Godhra riots?

We visited the health centre which was being run in Sonachura by the doctors associated with Mahasweta Devi and found it locked. The young boys and elders gathered and narrated the story how the centre was ransacked and the large equipments as well as the ambulance was taken away by the CPIM cadres and leaders on the looting spree. The ambulance, we were told was supposed to be in Khejuri (and this was indeed found later by Shabnam Hashmi and Anuradha Talwar who visited the place).This was shocking threat to the committed medical practitioners belonging to various teams including one of medical service centre and others who are functioning only in the relief camps while their services are very much needed in the villages as well.

We made our way to the house of Narayan Das who lay on the floor with a plaster around his chest. He had a rib fracture due to brutal beating by Pratap Sah and others who compelled him to go with them to a CPIM meeting where the attack took place. His son too was with him and has his left hand in pain with some damage which is not even treated.

The almost landless family of Narayan living on vegetable selling Haldia have managed to spend about 700 on the treatment of a private hospital and he does not even know about a medico legal certificate or a FIR to be filed. The police have visited his house but only to tell him not to go to police station to avoid further attack and that they would take care of everything.

Narayan and Goutam Das his son are simply sitting at home after having spent months in active support to BUPC, and the people's movement against SEZ. With no repentance women and men gather expressed full commitment to the struggle for saving the land and livelihood. This included wife of Bimal Dalpati who were also severely beaten up on 11th November but was not even allowed to leave his house and hospital till a day before, as also Anju Das a girl of 14 who had a scar of bullet on her forehead.

Satyanarayan Jena has carried severe pain in the backbone attacked and probably fractured but he too reached Nandigram Camp only yesterday. He was brutally beaten up in Maheshpur for participating in the non-violent procession. We were informed of many missing including another Narayan Das and wife of Munia. A homeopathy doctor Monmato Giri is being asked to pay a huge fine for supporting peoples movement and so are others threatened of losing their standing paddy and wheat if and only if they do not bow before the CPIM forces who were still moving around and ensuring that the terror continues to rule in Sonachura and in other villages. In Takapura we were told there was a firing obviously to Intimidate and to keep the people away in the camps.

WHAT NEXT????????

All this and much more that we witnessed and heard surely suggest an urgent need to...

A. Plan and support the phase of Rehabilitation by identifying supporters who can extend material help for one or more families for immediate needs including a temporary shelter, a set of vessels and utensils, a lantern, washing equipments and bedding. At least two thousand families are supposed to need these.

Please see our appeal towards the same.

B. Plan to support livelihoods in kind and rarely in cash, or the artisans and traders on BUPC identifying them village wise

C. There is a need to have a systematic drive to write affidavits and file FIRs, which the West Bengal Police have been avoiding till date.

D. The relief camps must continue with more of innovative activities for children and women in the camp.

E. The groups of families returning to the villages need the support of sensitive and mature activists who would be committed to the integration of the village.

F. The CRPF must continue and as against their experience till date they must be allowed to function independently and the action taken by them must not be negated by the WB Police. More of CRPF camps need to be started at Sonachura, Satangabari, Jambari, Ranichowk and a few more places. The demand has already been made by us. To make this happen all concerned must write letters to the central home ministry and others in the cabinet to convey the need for intervention, condemning the fact that all possible and necessary actions under the directives of National Human Rights Commission have not been taken by the Government of INDIA.

G. We must also pressurize the WB Govt. to fulfil its duty to provide the adequate quantity of grains and other food materials to the families in the camp as well as villages. The violation of Right to Food directives of the Supreme Court of India must not be tolerated.

H. Legal action will obviously be necessary to make the West Bengal Govt. to compensate all the losses and the torture without making a financial proposal of paying Rs 1000/- to 10000/-.

I. The CBI enquiry must continue and include the events of October and November in Nandigram. This should be our demand in the outside protest actions as well as the legal actions.

J. The partial propaganda and unjustifiable accusations against the people's organizations supporting the struggle in Nandigram unleashed by CPIM leaders and ideologues should be countered with facts, analysis and rationale.

K. While the Ganamanch in Kolkata continues with one organization holding a sit-in and fast every day, activists and supporters from all over can come to join them.

L. Jatthas of activist supporters have begun reaching Nandigram and villages with those belonging to women's organizations with Anuradha Kapoor, Shabnam Hashmi of National Integration Council, activists of Urban Poor Movement with NAPM in Mumbai, activist of NAPM, U.P., Nadighati Morcha of Chhattisgarh, and Orissa, Yuba Bharat, National Campaign on Dalits Human Rights-NCDHR, National Federation Of Dalit Land Rights-NFDLRM have already reached. More from Narmada Bachao Andolan, Sarva Seva Sangh, National Federation of Forest People and Forest Workers, etc. are to reach soon.

M. Fact finding teams on behalf of many people's organisation and movements as well as one from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch International are to reach soon.

N. The report of the NHRC is still awaited.

O. The protest actions in West Bengal and all over continue and so they are. Please remember that CPIM as a party has not yet taken a decision to withdraw its cadres fully. Unless that is done, there can be no smoothening of the process of integration and rebuilding


Medha Patkar
Drafted by

On behalf of the visiting team including MEHER ENGINEER, ANURADHA TALWAR,DEBJIT DUTT,VIJAYA,VIJAY SHARMA and others.