Justice V. Krishan Iyer’ letter to Prakash Karat on Nandigram

My dear Prakash Karat,

            I adore you as the top leader of the Marxist Party even as I hold Com. Jyoti Basu as a creative wonder of the Communist Marxist Party.  As you know, I remained in power with the Communist Government in 1956 in Kerala under the charismatic Chiefministership of EMS, the great Leftist thinker.  But alas!, in West Bengal things are murky, capitalism is happy, poor peasantry is in privation and deprivation, if newspaper reports throw light on events objectively.   We, in 1957, came to power by the ballot and rarely, if ever, used the bullet, with the result the police violence was hardly an instrument against the peasantry. 

Look at the contrast.  The brutality and bloodshed, at the instance of the police force is now bulleting of humble humanity.  I had and have great hopes that the Marxists if in power, will rule with compassionate ideology and win votes and people’s co-operation beyond party barriers.  But to my horror, the terror practiced yesterday at Nandigram fills me with dread and disappointment. The illusion of exploitative power has led the ministry to govern by the gun.  The consequent bloodshed demands your urgent attention and commands the party’s authority to arrest the frequency of bloodshed policy and police barbarity.  Sri. Sumit Chakravartty telephoned me last night about the police misuse of firepower.  If true, I protest and entreat you and the party to take immediate action and restore the basic proposition that Communist Government is not power with violent weapons.  And action at party level must be taken if governance over humanity is for the benefit of the peasantry.  I am sure, thousands like me will be shocked by the Nandigram incident.  Please, please have some regard for those who feel that socialism is not terrorism, but humanism; and misrule by gun will not be the rule of the Left in State authority.  Do forgive me for expressing my strong feelings with the expectation that the Left Administration believe and practice as a fundamental for the humble people, not for the proprietariat with the brute force of the bullet.

     With high regards,

      Yours sincerely,                    

                              ( V.R. KRISHNA IYER)

To,                           

       Sri. Prakash Karat                         

       General Secretary

       Communist Party of India (Marxist)

      New Delhi

Govt. to probe Nandigram clash

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/govt-to-probe-nandigra…

Sougata Mukhopadhyay, CNN-IBN, Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 22:54

The question that remains unanswered is what led the government to precipitate the clash.

VIOLENCE SRIKES: The question that remains unanswered is what led the government to precipitate the clash.

Nandigram: At least 11 people were dead in clashes on Wednesday between villagers and police in Nandigram. The Rajya Sabha was forced to adjourn over it and the Home ministry is investigating the incident.

The administration however, was once again taken by surprise by the resistance offered after a gap of three months.

When police contingents tried to enter Nandigram, villagers resisted and reportedly started pelting stones and hurling crude bombs. And police started firing in retaliation.

“The police faced heavy brick bating. When it stopped bombs were hurled. Villagers even fired at the police and this forced the police to fire in retaliation,” says chairman, Left Front, Biman Bose.

The West Bengal government has not made an official statement on the incident but the Left has made it clear that no land is being acquired in Nandigram.

Five gram panchayats in Block I of Nandigram have been out of bounds for the administration for the past two-and-a-half months.

The government says land-acquisition cannot become a pretext to cut off Nandigram from the rest of the state.

But then violence seems to be the only possible outcome every time the state uses force and the police instead of getting into a dialogue with the villagers.

The Trinamool Congress has called a 12-hour bandh on Friday protesting Wednesday s incident, forcing board examinations in the state to be rescheduled.

The question that remains unanswered is what led the government to precipitate the clash. Was it another administrative blunder and how much would it cost?

The answer to the question may be found in about a year when panchayat elections take place in Bengal.

(With inputs from Aniruddha Maitra)

Nandigram: CPM faces political backlash

http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?slu…


CPM faces political backlashSandeep Phukan
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 (New Delhi):

The Nandigram violence on Wednesday has resulted in a strong political backlash against the CPM.
Soon after the news of protesters being killed broke, Opposition MLAs stormed out of the West Bengal Assembly. In fact, the political shockwaves of the violence reached Parliament too.
The significance of the incident was made clearer when even smaller Left parties had no hesitation in criticizing the CPM.
The CPI’s General Secretary AB Bardhan led the charge. “The kind of police action at Nandigram is unheard of in Left rule, which I condemn severely,” Bardhan told State Secretary Manju Kumar Majumder.
“What can we say when our own government doesn’t listen to its allies,” said Abani Roy, RSP MP.
Mounting pressure
Just last week the West Bengal CM had something to cheer about as the Prime Minister praised his efforts on industrialization. But now the Centre is not sitting back, and it has now demanded a report from the state police.
The Congress, in fact, has stepped up pressure on the Left even though the two parties are allies at the Centre.
“I have spoken to CPI leader AB Bardhan. He is also concerned,” said Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Meanwhile, the BJP-led NDA has demanded a judicial inquiry as they believe the West Bengal government is trying to forcibly suppress protests.
“The CPM has brutally lathicharged and fired upon farmers in West Bengal,” said Rajnath Singh, BJP President.
The West Bengal Chief Minister has once before apologized for his party’s bungling of the Nandigram situation when violence broke out following a CPM MP’s attempt to acquire land for the SEZ.
But now, the violence on Wednesday has perhaps sparked off a much bigger political crisis for the CPM.

Nandigram: CPM faces political backlash

http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?slu…


CPM faces political backlashSandeep Phukan
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 (New Delhi):

The Nandigram violence on Wednesday has resulted in a strong political backlash against the CPM.
Soon after the news of protesters being killed broke, Opposition MLAs stormed out of the West Bengal Assembly. In fact, the political shockwaves of the violence reached Parliament too.
The significance of the incident was made clearer when even smaller Left parties had no hesitation in criticizing the CPM.
The CPI’s General Secretary AB Bardhan led the charge. “The kind of police action at Nandigram is unheard of in Left rule, which I condemn severely,” Bardhan told State Secretary Manju Kumar Majumder.
“What can we say when our own government doesn’t listen to its allies,” said Abani Roy, RSP MP.
Mounting pressure
Just last week the West Bengal CM had something to cheer about as the Prime Minister praised his efforts on industrialization. But now the Centre is not sitting back, and it has now demanded a report from the state police.
The Congress, in fact, has stepped up pressure on the Left even though the two parties are allies at the Centre.
“I have spoken to CPI leader AB Bardhan. He is also concerned,” said Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Meanwhile, the BJP-led NDA has demanded a judicial inquiry as they believe the West Bengal government is trying to forcibly suppress protests.
“The CPM has brutally lathicharged and fired upon farmers in West Bengal,” said Rajnath Singh, BJP President.
The West Bengal Chief Minister has once before apologized for his party’s bungling of the Nandigram situation when violence broke out following a CPM MP’s attempt to acquire land for the SEZ.
But now, the violence on Wednesday has perhaps sparked off a much bigger political crisis for the CPM.

Nadigram violence kills 14

http://www.ndtv.com/topstories/showtopstory.asp?sl…


Nandigram violence kills 14<br />  - News India
Monideepa Banerjie, Bano Haralu, Sourav Sanyal
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 (Nandigram):

On Wednesday, once again violence erupted in Nandigram and at least 14 people have died and 30 injured in clashes between police and protesters.
The trouble started when a large police force tried to break the Nandigram blockade. However, they were confronted by a 5000-strong mob which began hurling bricks on them.
The police resorted with teargas and a mild lathicharge and then rubber bullets. But when the villagers started shooting with pipe guns, the police opened fire.
The police have recovered large caches of arms and ammunition from the villages that they marched into. They have been unable to enter these villages for two months.
“We used loudhalers and mikes to announce that we are only entering the area to restore peace and law and order and not any other motive. But the mob did not just listen,” said AN Vohra, DG, West Bengal Police.
Bandh called
Mamata Banerjee, of course, is not buying the police version of events. She has called a 12-hour bandh on Friday to protest what she calls a government-sponsored blood-bath.
“There has been a mass killing, there has been a massacre. This is state sponsored blood war. The chief minister must resign, he must resign,” said Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Leader.
The Congress has backed the bandh call and even echoed her demand for President’s Rule in the state.
In fact, even the ruling Left Front is taken aback by the scale of the violence, and the CPI-M’s partners, including the RSP and Forward Bloc have demanded an emergency meeting which has now been scheduled for 6 pm (IST) on Thursday.
The March 16 bandh has forced the government to reschedule the state board’s higher secondary exams due to begin on Friday.
Friday’s exam will now be held on April 18 and the higher secondary exams will commence on March 19.
Meanwhile, the chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has said that he will update the State Assembly on the Nandigram violence on Thursday.

Package to pluck SEZ land thorns

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1070308/asp/frontpag…

New Delhi, March 7: A proposal has been mooted to confine special
economic zones (SEZs) to wasteland.
However, in states where acquisition of farmland is unavoidable, SEZs
should be allowed on the condition that wasteland would be upgraded
into cultivable land to ensure “food security”.
The proposals are part of a blueprint drawn up by the rural
development ministry, which has been asked by the Prime Minister to
work on a rehabilitation package for land acquisition for SEZs.
In a written submission to Murli Manohar Joshi, the chairman of the
parliamentary standing committee on industry, the ministry said: “SEZs
should be established preferably on wasteland… where use of
agricultural land cannot be avoided, single-crop land in rainfed areas
may be considered. In completely unavoidable circumstances, multi-crop
land may be used for strategic requirements.”
But it has added a rider that if farmland is taken over, there “should
be compensatory development of wasteland for the sake of food
security”. This, sources said, will form part of the rehabilitation
package that the ministry will submit to the cabinet soon.
The ministry’s submission, sources said, is believed to form “the core
principles on which it has drawn up its report”.
If the cabinet accepts the suggestions, investors who have proposed
SEZs in Bengal will be among the beneficiaries. According to state
government data, only 0.5 per cent of land in Bengal is fallow – which
makes the use of farmland, including multi-crop land, for SEZs
unavoidable.
The fate of at least eight proposals for SEZs, including two from the
Salim Group, is hanging in the balance now as the Centre has slammed
the brakes, pending the rural development ministry’s rehabilitation
report.
In the note to the standing committee, which is preparing an
independent report on SEZs for Parliament, the ministry stressed that
there should be a state-wise balance in distributing SEZs to avoid
regional disparities.
The suggestion is seen as an indictment of the manner in which SEZ
proposals have been approved till now. States like Gujarat and Andhra
Pradesh have 19 and 45 formal approvals, respectively, covering some
10,682 hectares and 9,460 hectares. But the Northeast does not have a
single clearance.
The ministry has suggested the creation of “a list of activities that
may not be allowed on SEZs, e.g., setting up of golf courses or other
such facilities with large land requirements”.
An official said the government felt that allied activities could
include communication facilities, airports and employees’ quarters
“but not malls and housing estates for non-workers and stadia.

The Special Economic Zones Debacle of left front in West Bengal

http://protestagainstneo-liberalpolicies.blogspot….

The “Special Economic Zone” Debacle of the Left Front in West Bengal
Harry Magdoff, refuting the myth of bourgeois social science that capital and technology are the magic which will bring the entire world into the Garden of Eden, wrote:
Since the obstacles to successful capitalist development (in third world countries) are today so gigantic, the pursuit of industrialization inevitably involves the accumulation of capital at the expense of keeping the masses down. Agriculture remains backward, investment is insufficient to cure unemployment in urban and rural areas, and wages are kept at pitifully low levels to provide adequate incentives for entrepreneurs. Production decisions are, and must be, made to satisfy the desires of the middle-and upper-income sectors of the population, those that have the money to buy. The technology introduced is the kind most favored by, and closely tied in with, foreign capital, since this is the technology best suited for profit-making and for squeezing into some of the interstices of foreign trade. Brazil is an outstanding example of what I am referring to. Brazil has been successful in taking a significant step forward in industrialization — one in which native capitalists have actively participated, along with foreign investors from a number of advanced capitalist states. With what consequences? The real wages of the working class have declined and the backward agricultural regions have remained stagnant and poverty-stricken.”
Today, thirty years later, every word rings true for India.
The global counter-revolution of these last thirty years has only added a more vicious aspect. It is only in these last few decades that global trade and capital flows — as a share of world production and savings, respectively — have again risen to the scale of the prior imperialist golden age that preceded the First World War. But this increased transnational dominance of the capitalist market (“globalization”) does not mean that national states — even those not of the imperial center — are becoming obsolete. Rather, ruthless state actions associated with neo-liberalism, policies designed to enhance “competitiveness” and “flexibility,” not just for individual firms but for whole national economies, are required.
In India, the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy of the government, formulated in 2000, and brought fully into force in the SEZ act in February 2006, is a clear example of the brutal mobilization of the state for neo-liberal ends. Supposedly based on a Chinese model, in fact the SEZ act goes far further — a complete capitulation to imperial capital. It is sufficient to point out that the supposed Chinese “model” does not permit the sale of land to the corporate SEZ promoters and developers. Until September 2006, the Board of Approvals committee of the Ministry of Commerce had approved 267 SEZ projects all over India. Land area for each of these projects “deemed foreign territories” ranges from 1,000 to 14,000 hectares. Developers of large, multi-product zones with a minimum area of 1,000 hectares are required to utilize only 25 per cent of the SEZ for industrial purpose. The rest can be utilized for residential and shopping purposes, hotels, malls, and the other trappings of “development.” Moreover, the developers have a completely free hand to allocate space and other facilities within the zone on a commercial basis, in short for real estate business.
It is estimated by some experts that in the first phase only, 375,000 acres of land will be required. The well known historian Sumit Sarkar, an author of Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flag — A critique of Hindu Right (Delhi: Orient Longman, 1993), commented that “this is liable to create one of the greatest land grabs in modern Indian history.” India has never before witnessed the coerced transfer of hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land to private industry — and private real estate speculators.
Within the SEZ the trappings of Indian bourgeois democracy fade. The central government’s “Development Commissioner” is delegated the powers of the labor commissioner. All suits of civil cases and even specified criminal offenses that arise in the SEZ shall be tried in special courts. These corporate Guantanamos also offer formidable fiscal “incentives”: exemption from custom duties, central excise duties, service tax, central sales taxes, and securities transaction tax to both the developers and the units; and tax holidays for fifteen years, including one hundred per cent income tax exemption for ten years of the fifteen for SEZ developers.
And at the root of this gigantic theft is the seizure of the land for these global capitalist profit zones from the cultivators through state coercion via the British colonial Land Acquisition Act. Even “consensual” transfers are therefore coerced, since use of the Land Acquisition Act looms behind the shoulder of the governmental “negotiator.”
It should be no surprise then that there has been a great rush to create SEZs in the year since the act was passed.
Into the situation created by this initiative of Chidambaram & Co. the Left Front government of West Bengal has, spectacularly, blundered. Arrogant from a triumph in an election in which it had attempted to project the supposed success of its model of capitalist industrial development, it was blind to the rising anger of the cultivators targeted to be displaced for profit. What followed was the ruthless use of the coercive power of para-military forces, police, cadre, administrative and legal apparatus; all to drive thousands of peasants and share-croppers off a thousand hectares of agricultural land for the benefit of . . . the Tatas. The resulting debacle at Singur saw the worst enemies of the Left Front, the Hindutva fascists and their ally Mamata, posturing in the world media as the friends and leaders of the oppressed. Fortunately, the extra-parliamentary left (and the SUCI) did not permit the fascists to seize this position by default, but damage has been done.
What then is now at stake for the left parliamentary parties of the West Bengal Left Front? Throughout India, Singur-like scenes are brewing. In Maharashtra alone, 70 SEZs will be set up, and 31 of these SEZs will be in the Konkan region alone. Almost everywhere, landholding peasants, along with ryots [subsistence farmers], pattadars [leaseholders], sharecroppers, agricultural workers, and other affected people are preparing for battle to resist land grabbing. Protests are going on in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, in the face of atrocities by the state. In Haryana and Punjab, the farmers are out on the field against the acquisition of multi-cropped fertile land tilled for years. Protests are now spreading to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Assam. Orissa, which witnessed continuous and brave resistance of the people against indiscriminate land-grabbing by the state government on behalf of foreign and domestic mining corporations for the last few years, is now boiling with new vigor against the projects of POSCO, VEDANTA, Tata Steel, and proposed SEZs. Shall the Left Front parties now stand everywhere before the people of India as the open advocates of the coerced displacement of the agricultural poor in the interests of capitalist profit?
As of now, the Left Front government had “succeeded” in driving the Singur residents off the land and establishing a fenced perimeter defended by armed police. Aft
er Singur, a notice of land acquisition for an SEZ project by Salim group of Indonesia (a Suharto-connected crew), to be spread over 10,000 acres, set off protests in Nandigram, East Modnapore. The death of six villagers was reported as clashes broke out. Further West Bengal land acquisition by government for SEZ private profit, in the first phase, has no fewer than 28 projects with total land to be acquired of approximately 105,000 acres, spread across the entire state. How many more such “successes” as Singur can the Left Front survive? To continue on this course is suicidal.
In Nandigram and other targeted communities, cultivators, sharecroppers and agriculture laborers have begun to organize themselves, excluding all cadre of the parliamentary parties. And, indeed, none of the parties has opposed the model of development that the ruling classes have adopted. A new force from below in embryonic form is in the making.