THE Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal has got exposed in Bhangar, where two persons were killed in police firing while they were protesting against forcible land acquisition. The bloodshed came after months of protest by villagers in Bhangar in South 24 Parganas. From 2013, multi crop agricultural lands were forcibly acquired for a power grid station. Moreover the land loot was organised by mafias led by the ruling party leaders. Arabaul Islam, the notorious TMC gangster in the area, is the main culprit behind this land grab and ousting of peasants without compensation. There was neither a process of holding discussions with the peasants nor were they allowed to express their grievances.
Bhangar is one of the most terrorised areas in the state and Left activists have been chased away from the area. None of the opposition parties are allowed to move in the area. A long stretch of villages is practically under the complete domination of the TMC gangs who sometimes indulge in violent rivalry. In such a situation, Bhangar and its surroundings have become easy target of land sharks. Mamata Banerjee has boastfully declared that her government will not acquire any land for industries but in reality thousands of acres of land have been taken away to especially build real estate. This has been done by local ruling party leaders who have become land mafia.
In Bhangar, despite protests and demonstrations for days, there was little response from the administration. On January 11, there was a road block which was lifted after the assurance from the administration that the project would be stopped for now and detailed discussions would take place. But, after two days, police began to raid the villages. The local leaders of the protest movement were picked up by state CID. On January 16th midnight, police entered the villages and unleashed terror. Even women were beaten up. This enraged villagers and they began to block roads from January 17th morning. Large number of police and RAF were brought to break the blockade and once again, police raided the villages. This led to a clash between thousands of villagers and the police. Finally, police fired to disperse the people killing two persons. Alamagir Molla, a college student and Mofizul Haque, a local youth were killed in police firing. Angered, the villagers burnt police cars. When state minister and local MLA Rezzak Mollah, a turncoat, reached there, he was resisted and was forced to return back.
The state administration tried to disown responsibility and denied police firing. However the entire episode exposed the false garb of ‘pro-peasant’ stance of Mamata Banerjee.
CPI(M) state secretary Suryakanta Misra castigated the chief minister for the killings and demanded that the villagers should be brought to table. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Md Salim said, TMC government has unleashed police and criminals against the people. Sujan Chakraborty, Left Front legislative leader condemned the firing and said, this is a pure case of land mafia grabbing land and state administration sheltering them by killing people.
AIKS Condemns Police Repression at Bhangar
THE All India Kisan Sabha, in a statement issued on January 18, has condemned the police firing at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal which has resulted in the death of two persons who were resisting forcible land acquisition. The people of villages of Khamarait, Machhi Bhanga, Tona, Gazipur etc., of Polerhat 2 panchayat in Bhangar assembly constituency have been resisting forcible land acquisition for power grid and high voltage transmission. The TMC government has resorted to use of brute force and repeated efforts of the villagers for a dialogue have been ignored. AIKS demands that the TMC government should stop using force against the protestors. It should open talks with the people to settle the issue. An ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakhs must be given to the families of victims of police firing, said the AIKS statement.
In the acquisition of land neither the guidelines of the Lands Acquisition Act of 2013 have been followed nor have guidelines for payment of compensation towards damages in regard to right of way for transmission line, ministry of power, government of India, dated October 15, 2015 been implemented. No social impact assessment or environment impact assessment has been carried out neither the principle of prior informed consent been followed. Even the safeguards for food security have been violated as the land being acquired is fertile multi-crop land. There are also concerns expressed by villagers about the health impact of electromagnetic field and possible threat of leakage of Sulphur Hexaflouride which apparently is used as a high voltage insulator. The government should initiate efforts to address these concerns and open dialogue with the villagers in the affected region. The land should not be acquired forcibly and oppressive measures should be stopped forthwith, demanded the statement.
AIKS has expressed solidarity with the peasantry and villagers of Bhangar who are resisting the forcible land acquisition.