Thursday, May 31, 2007


Prasanta Das, a 43 year old marginal peasant of Khaser Bheri mouza in Singur, who had declined to give up his land for the Tata Motors small car factory, committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling of a cowshed at his residence. His body was found in the wee hours of 25th May, 2007. Incidentally it was the day of the first anniversary of the land struggle in Singur against forcible land acquisition. The villagers strongly alleged that the suicide was because of the land loss. Prasanta's bereaved relatives and neighbours said that he was very much depressed and "mentally upset" ever since his family's land (around 4 bighas and 4 Cottah) was forcefully acquired by the state government for the Tata Motors project. His mother Geeta Das said, "He was prescribed treatment and counseling by the doctor. He didn't say anything unusual before his death. He was always worried how the family would live without the land." The deceased Prasanta has two minor daughters, only 9 years and 6 years old respectively. His widow, Sandhya Das has no alternative source of earnings.

The farmland was held jointly by Prasanta, his father Mahadeb Das (65) along with his two younger brothers Tapas and Sushanta. The Das family, consisting of three brothers, their wives and children were solely dependent on their agricultural land for their life and livelihood and after the government took over the land for the Tata project, they have been living in penury. But despite their destitution, Prasanta and his family straightaway turned down to receive compensation cheques alleging that their land was forcibly grabbed by the government against their will. "We didn't take money for the land because the family did not want to part with the land," Prasanta's mother said. Besides he was one of the earliest and active members of "Singur Krishi Jami Raksha Committee" (Singur Save Farmlands Committee), a people's organisation against the land acquisition. He was also injured in the police's lathi-charge on September, 2006 in front of BDO office during the peak of Singur land struggle.

A protest rally was taken out in the evening by the members of Krishi Jami Raksha Committee carrying Prasanta's dead body along the newly erected wall of the Tata's project site.

Earlier on 12th March, a similar incident had taken place in Singur when another poor peasant Haradhan Bag of Beraberi Purbapara, whose land had also been acquired without his consent, had committed suicide consuming pesticide.

Singur is now simmering in a terrible anguish and perturbation over the heart-rending suicides of two peasants. A fresh turmoil is brewing here after May 20th, when hundreds of peasants and agricultural workers determined to recover their lands acquired for the project, conflicted with the police who fired teargas shells, rubber bullets and charged with batons resulting 25 villagers including a 13 years old boy severely injured.

Later on, the police filed a large number of false cases (Ref: Singur P.S. Case 113, dated 20.05.07) against 53 protesters including Becharam Manna, Convener of Singur Krishi Jami Raksha Committee and Anuradha Talwar, President of Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity and 400 others under the following sections of IPC.
1. Section 147– Punishment for rioting.
2. Section 148 – Rioting armed with deadly weapon.
3. Section 149 – Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in
prosecution of common object.
4. Section 186 – Obstructing public servant in discharge of public function.
5. Section 332 – Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty.
6. Section 333 – Voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty.
7. Section 325 – Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt.
8. Section 326 – Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
9. Section 353 – Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty.
10. Section 307 – Attempt to murder. and I.P.C/9 (B) (1) I. E. Act.
Three activists, Kush Kumar Das, Jagannath Roy and Tarun Santra were arrested and detained under jail custody till the next hearing on 4th June 2007.

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity

Peoples' Tribunal on Nandigram


28 May, Kolkata

In its interim report, the independent People's Tribunal on Nandigram has recommended, among other measures, the setting up of special Human Rights Courts to ensure speedy justice in all cases of human rights violations in Nandigram and adjoining areas.

The Tribunal, organized by the All India Citizens Initiative, heard depositions from victims, witnesses, social activists, intellectuals, doctors, human rights groups and other concerned organisations here today. The hearings were held in both Nandigram and Kolkata from 26-28 May and headed by Justice S.N.Bhargava, former Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court.

Tribunal members, which included Pravash Joshi (Editorial Advisor, Jansatta), Lalita Ramdas (Social Activist), John Dayal (Member, National Integration Council) and Jyotirmoy Samajder (Psychiatrist), visited the site of police firing and other places in the Nandigram area relevant to understanding the circumstances and nature of the violence.

Meanwhile Mr Anup Agarwal, the District Magistrate of Midnapur (East) issued a letter to the organizers of the Tribunal asking under what 'law of the land' such a Tribunal was being organized. The All India Citizen's Initiative in its reply said that the Tribunal had been organized under Article 51 of the Constitution, which calls upon every citizen of India " to promote harmony and spirit of brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, regional and social diversities". It must be mentioned here that all concerned official agencies were informed of the Tribunal and requested to depose before it but none of them turned up.

The Tribunal received over 39 oral and 142 written depositions at the hearings held at primary schools in Gokulnagar and Sonachura and the University Institute Hall in Kolkata. While a final report of its findings is still being prepared the Tribunal has the following observations to make, based on prima facie evidence as well as depositions made before it:

  • There is no doubt at all that grave violations of human rights have been committed against the villagers of Nandigram;
  • There seems to be a disturbingly large number of reports of sexual violence against women;
  • There is an urgent need for a thorough, independent investigation of the events of 14 March 2007, especially with a view to ensuring justice for all those whose rights have been violated;
  • There are still a significant number of people in the area who need immediate medical attention for various problems related to the violence;
  • From all accounts no steps have been taken by the state machinery to provide compensation for the dead and injured so far.
  • The education and normal activities of school going children in both Nandigram and adjoining areas such as Khejuri have been seriously affected due to both past and ongoing disturbances.

Based on these observations the Tribunal would therefore like to make the following preliminary recommendations:

  • Special Human Rights Courts should be set up in West Bengal at the earliest to deal with all cases of human rights violations that have occurred in Nandigram and adjoining areas;
  • Stringent punishment needs to be meted out to all public officials and others guilty of violation of human rights or administrative lapses leading to such violations;
  • There should be adequate compensation and social rehabilitation provided to families of all those killed or injured in the violence of 14 March 2007, as well as in the period before and after this date.
  • Many of those injured were men and women working as wage labour in agriculture and other sectors. They are no longer able to continue working and must be also be provided alternate employment;
  • There should be special compensation and social rehabilitation provided to all victims of rape or molestation in Nandigram and adjoining areas;
  • Steps should be taken immediately to trace all those who are supposed to have gone 'missing' in the aftermath of the violence in Nandigram and adjoining areas;
  • Free and competent medical treatment should be provided by the state government for all those physically or mentally affected by the violence;
  • Urgent relief needs to be provided to all those whose livelihoods have been severely affected by the turmoil since January 2007.
  • Immediate steps should be taken to stop ongoing violence in Nandigram and adjoining areas and every effort made, in a sincere manner, to bring peace among all factions involved. The services of non-governmental and civil society organizations should be utilized in the peace process if necessary;
  • All necessary precautions need to be taken to prevent the occurrence of such events in future in other parts of West Bengal.

The Tribunal will continue working on a final report of its findings and present them to various concerned agencies for further action.

An All India Citizens' Initiative

45 Beniatola Lane, 3rd Floor, Kolkata-700009 Ph. & Fax +91 033 2219 2902 Mob. 09433728792

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Singur simmers over farmer's suicide

Kolkata : In the second such suicide since March, a farmer Thursday hanged himself in Singur, triggering fresh tension in the trouble-torn area in West Bengal that is on the boil over land acquisition for a Tata Motors project.

The 40-year-old farmer hanged himself from the ceiling of the cowshed of his house and his body was found in the wee hours of Friday, senior police official Kalyan Mukherjee said.

He was a resident of Khaserveri area in Singur, about 40 km from Kolkata in Hooghly district.

Das was a member of the anti-land acquisition Singur Krishijami Raksha Committee (SKRC) and was one of those injured in the September 2006 police baton charge in the area during the peak of Singur protests.

While the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said the farmer's suicide was not related to land acquisition, Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy admitted that Das probably was one of the farmers who refused cheque (money as compensation for the project).

"We are waiting for the post-mortem report. He probably did not accept money for the land," Roy said.

Das' land was acquired by the government for the Tata Motors small car factory coming up in the area, Becharam Manna, a leader of SKRC, told IANS.

"He was depressed. He had not been able to till his land for one year and was worried about the future of his two daughters. He had refused to accept money as compensation for the Tata project and was an active member of the movement," Manna said.

The dead farmer's father Mahadeb Das said: "He (Prasanta) said 'I will not live' after the land was acquired."

Earlier on March 13, farmer Haradhan Bag had committed suicide in Singur. Anti-Tata project activists had claimed that land loss was behind that death too.

Fresh tension is brewing at the site of the upcoming Tata Motors' small car unit in Singur. On May 20, hundreds of Singur Krishjami Raksha Committee members clashed with police who had to fire teargas shells and charge with batons to disperse the mob that seemed determined to reclaim their lands acquired for the project.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Fresh violence in Singur

Fresh trouble erupted at Singur today when farmers tried to demolish the boundary wall of the proposed Tata small car factory in a bid to reoccupy their land taken away for the project and police used lathis, burst tear gas shells and fired rubber bullets to quell the mob.
At least 60 villagers, including six women, and five policemen and the sub-divisional police officer were injured in the clash that ensued. Two of the injured villagers were admitted to Singur block hospital. Three persons were arrested.
Trouble began soon after farmers from Bajemelia mouza gathered near a local club to attend a rally organised by Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee (SKJRC). The villagers became agitated when the SKJRC leaders exhorted them to demolish the boundary wall and reoccupy their land which, according to them, the state government had “grabbed at gun-point”.
The farmers marched towards the project site and tried to break the police cordon. They also unsuccessfully tried to break the wall with shovels and pick-axes.
Police appealed to the farmers not to damage the walls, but to no effect. There was a scuffle following which agitating farmers threw stones at the cops and the police responded by using lathis and bursting tear gas shells. Rubber bullets were also fired.
A senior police officer claimed that six policemen, including Chandernagore SDPO, Mr Kalyan Mukherjee, were injured in the clash which continued for about an hour. The farmers retreated about an hour after the trouble had begun.
The SDPO later said: “About 350 villagers, including scores of women, were mobilised outside the boundary wall, whereas the SKJRC positioned its other activists at neighbouring villages.”
However, the CPI-M leaders repeated their old charge that “outsiders” had taken part in the agitation and there were about 100 people who resorted to violence. This contradicted the SDPO’s estimate of the strength of the mob.
“We learnt from local sources that it was the handiwork of about 100 outsiders, while only a few local residents joined them,” said Mr Ranjit Mondal, a CPI-M Singur zonal committee member and also president of the Left Front-controlled Singur Panchayat Samiti.
On the other hand, Mr Becharam Manna, convener, SKJRC, claimed that at least 60 farmers were injured in today’s police action. “Even aged farmers were beaten up mercilessly and police didn’t spare women and children who were unarmed,” Mr Manna alleged.
He claimed 13-year-old Somnath Koley and Haripada Das (72), both residents of Bajemelia Mouza, were rushed to Singur block hospital after being beaten up by police while 21-year-old Amita Bag was taken to a private clinic.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Is Singur A Lost Game? Should We Now Forget About Singur?

We are often asked these question these days. Our answer is - No, Singur is not a lost game, and we cannot forget it . The many reasons for this are given below.

Though there is now a 10 foot brick and mortar wall around 997 acres of land, the future of the project is still uncertain. The State Government continues to use a heavy police presence along with the special riot police Rapid Action Force to guard the wall that has been forcibly put up around farmers’ lands. It has put up watch towers that are manned round the clock by the police. The Government knows that the wall will only last as long as the police protect it- the project affected people have sworn to break the wall the moment the police is moved out.

The farmers of Singur (owning about 400 acres) have refused to take cheques even now and have refused to part with their land. The wall’s legitimacy, both in legal terms and in ethical terms is therefore questionable.

The Government has lied again and again about the number of farmers who have accepted cheques and given consent, as the table below shows

The farmers of Singur continue to struggle. Camps have been set up in two places near the wall that are constantly occupied by protesting farmers and others who support them. They are also waiting for the Court order. They are ready to build up greater movement in future depending on the Court order.

Every time there is heavy rain and therefore a problem for the police to move around, the people of Singur take advantage of the situation and “attack” the wall. The last attack took place on 8th May 2007. when the people of Bajemelya were in a pitched battle with the police for over an hour and broke the wall.

Agricultural workers, who were not owners of land but got their living from the land have been the first group to face destitution after the building of the wall. PBKMS organised a health check up for them recently along with measurement of Body Mass Index and examination for other signs of nutrition. Many of the workers and their families complained of hunger, fall in wages, greater indebtedness, loss of food sources etc. this year as compared to last year. They have also been visited in the past week by high officials from the district and from the West Bengal Industrial Development Industrial Corporation ( the Government body responsible for facilitating the Tata Motors project). These people have tried to bribe the agricultural workers with promises of free houses, better roads etc. The workers have so far rejected their promises, asking them instead to guarantee them work for 11 months in the year, the amount of work they used to get on the land taken over for the Tata Motors Project.

When workers on the brink of starvation and farmers faced by mounting debts can resist short term inducements like free houses and cheques in order to struggle against the long term effects of the Tata Motors project, should we also not join them in their struggle?

Paschim banga Khet-Majoor Samity

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Reliance veg mart attacked in Ranchi

New Delhi: The new Reliance Fresh outlet at Ranchi has been attacked by local fruit and vegetable vendors.

Protestors say their business is taking a beating as Reliance is selling their products at a much cheaper rate. Farmers allege the new mart is pushing them out of the market.

People have been queuing up to buy vegetables from the three Reliance shops set up in Ranchi the last three months.

Thousands of vegetable sellers, mostly women, are demanding closure of the Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Retail stores.

Earlier on Wednesday, wielding pumpkins and broomsticks, vegetable vendors - most of them women - staged protests against the Reliance Fresh shops, accusing the firm of undercutting and pushing them out of the market in one of the first such protests by small traders against organised retailing.

Reliance Industries is making a multibillion rupee foray into the retain business in the country and intends setting up chains of supermarkets, hypermarkets and speciality stores across the country.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Walmart: High Cost of Low Price

Walmart, a multinational retailer giant is going to open its store in India. The advocates of Walmart welcome it because of its low priced products. Unfortunately it is the one side of the coin. The other side is dark and hidden. The cost of the low price in Walmart is really high. Because of the low priced products it not only destroys small local businesses, but also its low price actually comes from the severe exploitation of the workers, working in Vietnam, China, Bangladesh and India.

Watch the documentary, “Walmart: High cost of low price

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Prol-position News and Gurgaon Workers' News

Latest issues of Prol-position News, a newsletter on workers struggle worldwide and Gurgaon Workers' News are now available. Please visit at and

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Terror Continues in Ghateha village, Rewa district, MP– Seeking Urgent Support

According to Shanti, a woman from Ghateha village one got to talk on the phone on 25 April, "…police wala aur zamindar log hamare gaon mein aatank phaila rahe hein. Hum sab ko dara dhamka rahe hein aur kah rahe hein ham sabko mar dalenge… hum apna jaan bachate phir rahe hein" [" …Police & the mafia are spreading terror in the village and threatening us to kill…we are desperately trying to hide ourselves from falling into their hands…"]. There was absolute terror in her voice as she narrated the incident of 19th and post that.

The village still remains out of bound for many with the armed police deployed in the village. The injured are yet to get the medical assistance and many people are still scattered. Complaints are yet to be lodged by the people as nobody is able to come out. The magnitude of the police action is yet to be ascertained with the kind of terror prevailing in the village.

The immediate steps need to be taken include:

  • - Ensure the injured get appropriate medical assistance immediately
  • - Get the complaints of the people registered in the police station
  • - Start the legal processes for those against whom FIRs have been filed by the police. Ensure protection for them.
  • - Ensure moral support to the people who have put up a brave fight against all odds all by themselves so far
  • - Locate all the people who were victims of the shootout and collect them at one place.

  • - Immediately file complaint petitions in High Court and Supreme Court against the State Government agents like IG, PCCF, dist collector and whoever else is responsible.
  • - Working up a political atmosphere that will discredit the administration's moral and legal stand.

Fact finding teams are starting to visit the village with one comprising of representatives from Nadi Ghati Morcha, Adivasi Dalit Morcha and Peoples Alliance from Chhattisgarh is visiting the village today i.e., 28 April 2007. Representatives of NFFPFW, NCDHR, Delhi Forum and other solidarity organizations will be going on the fact finding mission on 29-30 April 2007. There is an urgent need to pressurize the government to withdraw the police force from the village and bring the normalcy.

We are overwhelmed with the support and cooperation shown by all of you. And we would urge to keep up this support and solidarity between the struggling forest dwellers and the movements and groups to defend the rights of the forest people as well as to thwart the heinous efforts of the forest department to destroy the growing trust between the elected representatives in our Parliament and the forest people as reflected in the JPC report and the passing of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

The forum has created a pool to receive contributions from friends and groups to address the immediate needs in the village. We urge upon you to pitch in and help us generate a corpus fund. We request you to send your contributions to Manohar Kotekar C/O Mr. B. K Aglave, 74 Kanphade Nagar, Wardha Road, Nagpur- 25. PLEASE MAKE THE CHEQUE / DD IN FAVOR OF 'NFFPFW, NAGPUR ', SYNDICATE BANK. Your contribution is precious.

Looking forward to your continued support in our struggle.


28 April 2007

How transparent government is?

WB government claims that it keeps everything transparent and it has made a government of difference. After Singur and Nandigram the image of WB government has become fade. Still a descent section, especially outside WB believe that CPM led WB government is not that bad. For them we like to point out two incidences:

1. In this blog, we discussed how WB government gave false statement that most of the farmers of Singur gave their consent for the land acquisition. In that report, we referred to the status report on Singur, made by WB government. That report was available at We were just checking that site recently for other reports----to find more lies from government on other fields. Interestingly we didn’t even find that status report on Singur. They have removed that report. Don’t you think it is really shady? We are all aware that so many people’s organization also challenged that report. Under that circumstances what could be the reason to remove that status report from the website?

However, we had a saved copy of this report. We would like to keep it available to the people. If you like you can download from here.

Interestingly, recently one report was published in the Bartaman (April 9, 2007), a Bengali daily quoting from a report of the standing committee of WB legislative assembly on commerce and industry. It said that in Haldia petrochem only 670 found their employment. Indirectly it gave job to 1200 contractual labours (since 1990, government has been claiming that this project is to provide 1.5 lakhs of jobs). We tried to verify it from the original report. Unfortunately we didn’t able to find the report at We would like to know what is the beauty of having maintained this official website of WB government if we cannot get all these reports?

Doesn’t it show that the government is really eager to hide information from the people?

Is it transparency?
Do you call it as democracy?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Thousands of workers have been starving in Hoogly

West Bengal government is planning to acquire more land in the Hoogly district for the sake of industrial “development”. The process has been started with Singur. According to government and CPM claims this is to provide more job opportunities for us. Interestingly, they hide the current industrial scenario of this district. There are 132 big industries in Hoogly out of which 46 have already been closed. It has directly unemployed almost 15 thousand workers; 30 thousand have lost their job indirectly.

Does government know how they and their family survive?

(Based on a report from the Bartaman, May 1, 2007)