Lies, hypocrisy, false propaganda, misinformation, erasing of facts, denials, constructing myths, these are the often used tools of any fascist rule. The CPI(M)-led government in
People of Nandigram have a glorious history of struggle. The peasants of Nandigram had kept the region out-of-bounds for the colonial rulers for almost two years in early 1940s, establishing a peoples’ government there. This time too, they neither succumbed before the brutalities and terror unleashed by the CPI(M) thugs, nor have they believed the Chief Minister, a pathological liar, who so far has given only verbal assurances that the chemical hub will not be set up in Nandigram. The fight-back by Nandigram’s people in March this year, when thousands and thousands of evicted people rallied back to their villages to drive the CPI(M) goons out to Khejuri, was astounding. Since then, they have had two strong demands. First, the formal and official withdrawal of the SEZ from Nandigram. Second, punishment of the CPI(M) lumpens and the police officers who were involved in the March massacre. None of the two demands have been met so far. The CBI enquiry that had started in May after High Court order led to the arrest of a few hired lumpens from Keshpur, Garbeta, Topshia and other places. But within a month the CBI enquiry was withdrawn and all the arrested people were given bail. Since then the hired goons of CPI(M) (popularly known as Harmad Vahini) had ganged up in the villages in the Khejuri block, encircled Nandigram and fired or charged bombs every night. To resist such continuous terror, the people in Nandigram started to patrol the ‘border’ areas, organised protests, and after a couple of months started to retaliating the routine attacks unleashed by CPI(M) from Khejuri.
However, contrary to the CPM propaganda, life in Nandigram was near normal all these months. The Higher Secondary board exams took place in all the schools, the banks, post office, health centers, markets, public transport, everything ran normally. Infact the numbers of petty crimes dropped significantly during these months. The only office that remained defunct at places within Nandigram was the Panchayat offices, because the members of the Panchayat who were CPI(M) activists had fled! The local MLA from CPI or the MP from CPI(M) did not even once visit the area after the March massacre. While ‘peace meetings’ in AC halls or silent marches in the streets of Kolkata went on, regular exchange of firing and bombs became integral part of the lives of people of Nandigram. While the CPM propagated that Nandigram has cut itself off from the rest of Bengal declaring itself as the “liberated zone”, activists, fact-finding teams, medical teams, relief teams, cultural groups, students’ teams, intellectuals and social workers from all over the world kept visiting Nandigram in all these months since March. The ceaseless efforts to delegitimise the struggle in all possible ways by the CPI(M) not withstanding, the support for the struggle in Nandigram had been growing across the nation. And this created panic within the state and the reactionary ranks of the CPI(M) leadership!
The myth of 3500 ‘dispossessed’ CPI(M) supporters: What CPI(M) had been parroting in all these months and with which they tried to ‘justify’ their November ‘recapture’ and massacre was the lie that ‘a large number’ of CPI(M) supporters have been evicted from Nandigram; that they were forced to stay in relief camps. About the November carnage too, at first they said that ‘minor clashes’ took place as ‘displaced’ CPI(M) families tried to force their entry back into Nandigram. In all these eight months however the numbers of ‘displaced’ CPI(M) supporters varied. It ranged from 300 to 3500 according to the whims of the party. However, the so-called relief camps in Khejuri were strangely out-of-bounds for the media (except the ones with declared allegiance to the ruling party), civil society activists, intellectuals, film makers, social workers and common people. Even the couple of films made to justify the CPM carnage (both have been shown in JNU) could NOT show the presence of people in CPI(M)-run relief camps in ‘large numbers’, thereby exposing the falsity of such claims. Some people had indeed been evicted from Nandigram and their families left with them. They led or justified the attacks, the mass killing and rape of women and minor girls on 14th and 15th of March. Names of 18 leaders and around 15 of their henchmen were given to the press by the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) whose entry to Nandigram was prohibited by the people in a Jan Adalat. Apart from the known CPI(M) goons like Naba Samanta, Dulal Garu, Badal Garu, Pratap Sahu, Sudarshan Garu, Badal Gayen, Himangshu Ray, Ashok Guria, Rabiul Islam etc., identified by the local people to be in the forefront of the March carnage, the BUPC asked all others to come back. The actual number of people staying in Khejuri camps was no more than 150 in May, according to a report by the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR). Although many people returned to Nandigram after that (and the local press kept reporting every return) the number of the so-called displaced CPI(M) supporters kept inflating in the party’s propaganda! They once again participated in the November massacre, and are now ‘back’ with their terror, flaunting arms and intimidating the people. Some were even arrested by CRPF, only to be let off by the local police showing their loyalty to the ruling party. The DIG of CRPF Alok Raj had sought for transfer order and openly expressed his disgust to the utter non-cooperation by the local police in releasing all the people who had been arrested by CRPF, the notorious members of the CPI(M) harmad Vahini!
Harmad Vahini is a term now in regular usage in the popular parlance of
Communalizing protest: one of the most reactionary aspect of CPI(M)’s retort to the movement in Nandigram was to constantly trying and giving it a communal colour. A large section of the Muslim population who has been engaged in agricultural activities in Nandigram were at the forefront of the movement against land acquisition through the organisation Jamiat Ulema-E-Hind. CPI(M) therefore constantly tried to delegitimise it as a communal movement. In reality although Jamiat Ulema-E-Hind is an Islamic organisation its participation in the movement in Nandigram was not for a religious purpose. They emphasized the need to save farmland and livelihood of peasants irrespective of their religion. They vehemently protested against the sham of ‘industrialisation’ and the neo-liberal policies forced upon the common people by the CPI(M) government. Nandigram thus also had unmasked the self-proclaimed secularism of CPI(M) government, and exposed their utter hypocrisy in playing up identity politics and communalism to delegitimise genuine people’s movements.
Matangini Mahila Samiti: Like any other initiative by women against oppression, the existence of this women’s committee too has been played down by the mainstream media. But the women of Nandigram have organised themselves through this samiti which has come up as a platform of resistance against forced displacement and state repression, both of which gets manifested through patriarchal oppression. The mass molestation and rape along with daily verbal and other abuses had prompted the women of Nandigram to organise themselves. Named after the legendary martyr of Quit India movement from the district, Matangini Hajra, the Matangini Mahila Shamity (MMS) held regular meetings to equip the women against repression, held processions, cultural programmes and a big convention in July 2007 where thousands of women had participated. Apart from the general menace of displacement and repression, the MMS also dealt with general problems of women like domestic violence and alchoholism of men. They had launched militant attacks on the local arrack shops and destroyed them. Some members of the MMS were also given arms training in order to defend themselves against the possible attacks of the Harmad Vahini.
Maoists or the ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’? CPI(M)’s latest and strongest justification to carry out the November carnages had been the spectre of Maoists in Nandigram! As if the very presence of the Maoists/ Naxalites gives them the right to kill, rape, injure, intimidate, abuse and threaten villagers, evict them out of their homes, force them to stay in relief camps, or worse make them leave Nandigram. In CPI(M)’s cock-and bull propaganda stories, the villagers in Nandigram were all Maoists. The activists, intellectuals, theatre personalities, film makers and lakhs of common people who stormed the streets of Kolkata in protest of the brutalities were Maoists too! In short all the protesting voices have been Maoists and hence can be assaulted, arrested and throttled. The logic echoes clearly the arrogance shown by George W. Bush in
The presence of Maoists in Nandigram to give trainings to the villagers to defend themselves against the attacks of the Harmad Vahini was the demand of the movement in the face of the ceaseless and surmounting all-out attack of the CPI(M) lumpens. The Maoists in the process have found popular support among the people of Nandigram who tried to organise themselves against the onslaught of the fascist ruling party. The CPI(M) clearly did not have that support. Today the CPI(M) flags that have been planted forcefully on every house or nook-and-corner of Nandigram (even a graveyard!) symbolizes the continuation of the State terror that have been unleashed to enforce ‘peace’, ‘order’ and ‘normalcy’. But they know that in the eyes of all the people of Nandigram CPI(M) is nothing but a gang of killers, rapists, and betrayers. And that the silence of Nandigram today is nothing but the silence of graveyard, which is going to erupt in the future against the ruling social fascists.
The road ahead: The worst nightmare for the CPI(M) about the Nandigram movement has been that it has become an effective model of protest, which has the potential to snowball into a massive mass upsurge. It is evident by now that if Nandigram’s defiance to state terror and the resistance against the loot of land and livelihood for the sake of corporates and MNCs be emulated by all the movements that are brewing against SEZ and land grab policies, then it will be a serious threat to the imperialist policies pursued by the state. It is now for everybody to see that only a militant, armed peoples’ struggle has the possibility of putting up a meaningful resistance to the World Bank-IMF dictated juggernaut which goes by the convenient name of ‘development’, dispossessing, displacing and destroying tens of thousands of common peopleon its way: be it peasants, landless agricultural workers, or adivasis... And this is what is happening in Nandigram in