Singur: The Resistance against LFG Continues

The issue of providing fertile land to the Tatas by the Left Front Govt. for setting up a small car factory at Singur in West Bengal has evoked widespread resistance among the local peasants and protests among the broader masses. While the local peasants, including the women in large numbers, have been taking to the streets almost every day, democratic people from all walks of life are also expressing solidarity in support of the struggle of the Singur peasants in the form of rallies, dharnas, road blockades etc. The Government has been coercing peasants into accepting cash compensation, totally flouting the norm that only irrigated land can be adequate compensation for land taken away from peasants.

Our Party also has been organizing protest and solidarity mobilizations since the beginning of the movement. Recently, representatives of the students from various educational institutions including Jadavpur University , Kalyani University , Rabindrabharati University , Kolkata University , Presidency College and Bagula College carried out an investigation between 29th September and 2nd October among the people of Gopalnagar, Bajemelia, Khaserveri and Beraberi area of Singur. A report of their findings revealed the following:

•  About 2,000 peasant men and women participated in a peaceful dharna before the Singur BDO office on 25 September. The joint force of the police and the RAF unleashed indiscriminate attacks on this peaceful mobilization from 1.20 a.m. in the night to 5 a.m. next morning. Indiscriminate lathi-charge was resorted to by putting off the light, encircling the protesters and using tear-gas shells. More than 500 people were injured in the attack. One person, named Rajkumar Bhul, injured in the lathicharge, died of his injuries subsequently.

•  Notorious CPM goons wearing khaki uniform, but putting on ordinary shoes, were among the attackers and they were the worst of all. Eyewitnesses testified that many of them were drunk and were brought in from the Arambag area in truckloads. They were directed from the Party office situated beside the Singur Allahabad Bank. While returning, they took away many cycles belonging to protestors in their trucks.

•  Women were more numerous in the dharna before the BDO office and many of them came with children in their laps. Most of the rural women are engaged in agricultural production. They will be without any job if their land is lost. They were flung or dragged down by their hair, or by putting saris around their necks. Many women complained about physical abuse by the drunken police or CPM cadres. 22 women were detained in jail for three days. The Government has initiated various cases against them.

•  A two-and-a-half-year-old child was also detained in jail for three days on charges(!) of destruction of Government properties. Many of the injured women were unable to stand. Two septuagenarian women, Nivarani Manna and Durga Patra became bed-ridden as a result of the lathi-charge. The journalists reported that their cameras were broken and they were assaulted too.

•  21-year-old Rajkumar Bhul, son of Dwarik Bhul participated in the dharna to save his family's 15 kattha plot. He lay injured beside the railway track in the dark of the night. Some people known to him brought him home in the morning. He succumbed within an hour. The CPM mouthpiece Ganashakti and the Bengali daily Aajkal described his death as drowning in a pond. His family members vouched that he died not due to drowning and his dead body was lying beside the land embankment. The doctor who gave the death certificate described the cause of death as heart failure'. No indication of death due to drowning is available from any source. The people of Singur protested this death by observing Martyr's Day on 2 October. The representatives of the students were also present in those condolence meetings.

•  The agricultural land in Singur has been formed out of the alluvial soil of the Ganges . So the land is quite fertile. There are DVC canals, four deep tube wells and thirty mini deep tube wells in the area. So the irrigation system is a developed one. As a result, almost all the plots are three crop-bearing. Many plots are used even for cultivating four crops. There are as many as five big cold storages in the locality.

•  The proposed 1,000 acres of land to be handed over to the Tatas is owned by about 5,000 peasants, and most of them are owners of small holdings. There are about thousand sharecropper families and several thousand agricultural labourers daily come from outside to work in the fields here.

•  According to the information furnished by the Government, 27% of the owners have accepted cheques. The local sources quote the figure at 25%. Most of them are absentee landlords, who only rent out land, and do not depend on cultivation, since they own houses in towns, and have jobs.

75% of the peasants are determined not to hand over land. The police once again lathi-charged the protest rally of the peasants held on 26 October against the repression on the dharna demonstrators in front of the BDO office the previous day. Seven persons were arrested. The police vehicles have been patrolling in the villages all through the day. Turning the festive season into one of mourning and protest, the whole of Singur observed a black-out on the Navami Puja day, while on 3 October, no food was cooked as a mark of protest.