Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Dilip Simeon, Aseem Srivastava, Amita Baviskar, Amit Sengupta, Nandini Sundar, Satya Sivaraman and others
Nandigram: Punish the guilty, Pay compensation to victims now!
On the third anniversary of the horrific police firing in Nandigram, which occurred on 14 March 2007, we strongly condemn the failure of various state institutions to do justice to the victims and survivors of this violent attack on a peaceful mass movement.
Till date not a single police official, government bureaucrat or CPI (M) politician involved in the wanton massacre of peasants resisting forcible takeover of their land has been prosecuted. At least 14 people were killed in the incident and hundreds injured. Several independent inquiries and tribunals found that more than a dozen women had been sexually assaulted or raped. It is a matter of deep shame for Indian democracy that the men who were responsible for the barbaric violence – including persons in uniform and out of it – continue to roam with impunity.
The Calcutta High Court’s direction to the CBI to inquire into the violence in Nandigram on 14 March and to prosecute those responsible has not been carried out under various pretexts. These include litigation in the Supreme Court against this order, launched by the West Bengal government. That no clear judgment has been pronounced on this important issue till now only serves to lower the credibility of our judicial institutions. In light of the aftermath of the anti-Sikh carnage of 1984, we fear that as time goes on, evidence will be lost and witnesses intimidated. After some years, lip service will be paid to judicial procedure and the criminals will go scot-free. Such a sabotage of justice has happened before in West Bengal.
Compensation of Rs 5 lakhs has been paid to relatives of those who died on 14 March. But the Calcutta High Court order of 16 November 2007, directing compensation of Rs 2 lakhs to the women who were raped and Rs. 1 lakh each to the injured has not been implemented till date. That the West Bengal government has blocked the payment of this compensation to ordinary people grievously wronged by its own actions manifests a partisan spirit devoid of the most basic requirements of humanity.
There are also disturbing indications that the culture of violence and authoritarian control exercised by the CPI (M) in the past continues under the current domination of the Nandigram area by the Trinamool Congress. This would indicate a failure to learn any lessons from the past and prevent the building of a new political tradition that benefits the ordinary people instead of power-hungry political organisations.
On this sad anniversary we urge the citizens of India, and indeed the entire world, to continue to demand justice for the men and women of Nandigram and bring to book all those police officials and political cadre responsible for the atrocities of 14 March 2007.
Sumit Sarkar, New Delhi
Tanika Sarkar, New Delhi
Dilip Simeon, New Delhi
Aseem Srivastava, New Delhi
Amita Baviskar, New Delhi
Amit Sengupta, New Delhi
Nandini Sundar, New Delhi
Satya Sivaraman, New Delhi
Harsh Dhobal, New Delhi
Rabin Chakravarty, Kolkata
Santanu Chacraverti, Kolkata
Kavita Panjabi, Kolkata
Sanjay Mitra, Kolkata
Sumit Sinha, Kolkata