A Preliminary Report on the Struggle and Violence in Nandigram
[Sometime ago (28 January 2007), CPM general secretary, Prakash Karat, had written in People’s Democracy against ‘the likes of Medha Patkar’ and those whom he called ‘modern day Narodniks’, for opposing the industrialization of West Bengal. The burden of Karat’s song in that piece was that what he called ‘the single-issue crowd’, was unbale to see the big picture – the Totality, as his marxist faith would have it. It is interesting that this point has never been responded to though it continues to be part of marxist understanding for a very long time. It might be worth keeping this in mind while reading the following report. The questions raised by it link up the immediate question of land acquisition with the question of ecological impact of making a chemical hub on the rivers Haldi and Hooghly; the question of livelihoods linked to fisheries with those of a larger development paradigm. Clearly, when the impact of global warming is beginning to be seen right here, this looks certainly like a much more holistic view, in comparison to that which can see nothing but industrialization and capitalism as the only reference point. – AN]
Nandigram has come on to the country’s map within a few months old struggle as also killing and atrocities during last few days of this New Year. The people’s determination not to give away their lands full of paddy, coconut and palm trees, ponds and fisheries for the two SEZs upcoming in Midnapore was expressed through many a demonstration including the Mahasabha on December 8th 2006. The Ganaunnayan Janadhikar Sangram Committee, an alliance of 22 peoples’ organizations including Jamat–e-Ulema–Hind, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Hindu Muslim Friendship and others, was formed in 2004 when 5000 acres of land, mostly of Muslim farmers, was to be acquired for the same Salim Industries in ‘Bhangad’, on the outskirts of Kolkata. The struggle is still on. The same committee, with statewide coverage took up the issue of Nandigram, about three months back, and the struggle began. A peaceful struggle in this region known for the historical contribution to the freedom movement and Tebhaga movement, picked up quite fast and with a clear perspective.
The people’s viewpoint is: ‘No destruction of agriculture based livelihoods and communities is necessary and inevitable for industrialization’; ‘no justification to set up a chemical hub on the banks of two rivers Hugli and Haldi’ and ‘no consent’ to a project undemocratically planned with impending forcible acquisition of 38,873 acres of prime land and habitats on the same’. It has helped convey the strength and unity as also a challenge to the state government of West Bengal and the SEZ approving authorities at the Center.