DEMANDING JUSTICE IN NANDIGRAM
DEMANDING JUSTICE IN NANDIGRAM
Statement by women’s groups
While the ruling government of West Bengal is bent on promoting the view that the state needs Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and arguing that this is being achieved through consensus, the reality is different. Over the last few months, there have been intense protests against the large scale acquisition of fertile land by farmers in Nandigram and Singur. The resistance by the people has been met by heavy repression by both, state agencies and CPM cadre. Many meetings and public protests have been organized all over the country. We reproduce below a statement by several women's groups and individuals calling for justice in Nandigram.
The developments in Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal in the last few months, and more particularly in Nandigram on 14th March, have rocked the state and left the country shocked and bewildered. Numerous people- civil rights activists and groups, agricultural labour unions, concerned citizens have reported from January 2007 onwards, on the growing resistance of farmers against the government's acquisition of land for industry, and the resulting tensions. For the people it was a fight for their land, their livelihood, their very survival which unfortunately was met with a lot of state repression.
The events of 14th March confirmed our worst fears. A wave of unprecedented brutality was unleashed on the people of Nandigram, killing and maiming countless men, women and children. As details of the killings, beatings, rape and looting filtered out, a shocked country reacted with horror and outrage.
The government was forced to finally back down and withdraw the land acquisition plan. For the moment the farmers of Nandigram have won their battle. Sadly though, peace and return to a normal life eludes them.
A visit to Nandigram two weeks after the 14th March operation found people still living in terror. Most shocking was the kind of sexual violence suffered by women of all ages as an adjunct of state repression. The shadow of the police/administration/lumpen elements looms large. A daily attack with crude bombs is what people have to live with. The fear of reprisal drives people to spend nights in the forests or keep awake guarding their families. The families of the missing are still searching for them, the injured are largely without medical treatment and the looted homes tell their own story.
In the context of the state repression that the people of Nandigram have experienced, they find all redressal mechanisms closed to them today. It is clear that peace will never return to Nandigram until some basic conditions are met with. These are:
1) Stopping the daily attacks and terrorisation of villagers in Nandigram, ensuring their safety and security.
2) Immediate inquiries to establish the number of people still missing.
3) Adequate medical facilities for the wounded.
4) Monetary compensation for the families of the dead and injured.
5) Identifying the culprits of the violence and punishing them, irrespective of who they are.
6) Investigate cases of sexual violence on women, and punish the guilty without any further delay.
Till these steps are taken the wounds of Nandigram will continue to fester.
There have been several fact finding reports on the horrors in Nandigram. You can access some of them at: nandigramlalsalam.blogspot.com
AMAAR GRAM! TUMAR GRAM! NANDIGRAM