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Mainstream, Vol XLV No 48

Nandigram: Statement of Concerned Citizens

Sunday 25 November 2007

We, the undersigned, have been dismayed and revolted by the events of the past few days in and around Nandigram in West Bengal’s East Medinipur district. The manner in which the anti-socials of the dominant party in the ruling front attacked the residents to re-establish the domination over the area exposes the party’s commitment to democratic values, principles and norms. The actions of these people under the benign indulgence of the State administration can only strengthen the criminalised and anti-democratic forces in our polity. For four days since the operation began the media and journalists have not been allowed to enter Nandigram, indicating that there is much to hide.

We condemn the assault by the anti-socials carrying the Red flag and functioning under the protection and encouragement of the ruling CPM on the group of reputed social activists, writers, intellectuals and artistes led by Medha Patkar who were on a visit to Nandigram to find out first hand what was going on and express their solidarity with the hapless residents evicted from their hearths and homes. Not only were they prevented from entering Nandigram, they were subjected to physical violence and intimidation. The events in Nandigram are inconsistent with the norms of democratic functioning, claims of creating an alternative political culture and the traditions of Bengali culture.

We see in this the application of the so-called “Dum Dum dawai” that a senior CPM Polit-Bureau member approvingly advocated the other day. This is unfortunate since this slogan was coined as a part of the democratic resistance during the memorable food movement in the State in 1966, whereas it is now sought to be applied against the people themselves. All this is reflective of not just intolerance but a strong anti-democratic tendency in the dominant component of West Bengal’s ruling party today. What is happening in West Bengal today is indeed unprecedented in contemporary India and has doubtless besmirched the State’s rich history of democratic struggles so that even the Governor of West Bengal, who has shown tremendous restraint, has been pained to issue a statement against the unfolding events in the State.

We are dismayed at the attitude of the CPM’s State and Central leadership which not only did not rein in its cadres but did not deem it necessary or worthwhile to tender unqualified apology to the group led by Medha Patkar for the undemocra-tic actions of their cadres. This suggests that they are condoning such activity.

If such activities continue even for a day more it would be tantamount to the State Government abdicating its constitutional responsibility and a breakdown of the constitutional functioning in the State.

We demand that the CPM leadership, both at the Centre and in the State, immediately put a stop to the undemocratic actions let loose by their cadres.

We also demand that they convey their sincere apology to the people of Nandigram and to the group of citizens led by Medha Patkar that were trying to visit the area.

We demand a solemn assurance that such things will not recur in the days ahead.

We demand that the State Government facilitate the visit of a fact finding team consisting of concerned citizens to the area.

We appeal to all democratic forces, representing various shades of opinion, to stand up and defend the very edifice of our democracy, which is in peril, by taking whatever action they can wherever they are.

Meher Engineer; Prashant Bhushan; Arvind Kejriwal; Amit Bhaduri; Sumit Sarkar; Ramaswamy R. Iyer; Madhu Bhaduri; Achin Vanaik; Praful Bidwai; Sumit Chakravartty; Vijay Pratap; Anil Sadgopal; Yogendra Yadav; Rami Chhabra; Mira Shiva; Mani Subramanian; Mukta Shrivastava; Sauquat Hussain; Satya Sivaraman; Jimmy Dabhi; Nityanand Jayaraman; Kalyani Menon-Sen; Rudy Herdia; Dhruva Narayan; J. Saikia; Arun K. Bidani; N.P. Chaubey; R.C. Tripathi; Ghanshyam Shah; Mahendra K. Verma; Rahul Varman; Sujata Patel; Saumen Chattopadhyaya; Ritu Priya Mehrotra; Avijit Pathak; Shashikant Jha; Pradipta Chaudhury; Satish Jain; Anjan Mukherji; Promod Yadav; Alokesh Barua; Arun Kumar and 67 others.

LETTER TO WEST BENGAL GOVERNOR

Your Excellency Shri Gopal Gandhi,

We, the undermentioned, welcome your statement on the current situation in Nandigram.

We believe that you are only performing your constitutional duty by issuing such a statement no matter what people ignorant of the Constitution may say. The people of the State look towards you in times of crisis to know what is happening around them. We believe that the concerns you have expressed regarding lack of democratic functioning in the State need to be reiterated.

Your statement reassures the people of the State that the highest authority in the State is looking after their interests and that very soon norms of civilised functioning that maybe expected in any democratic place would be restored in West Bengal.

With best wishes and regards,

Yours sincerely,

Sumit Sarkar; Amit Bhaduri; Sumit Chakravartty; Anil Nauriya; Suhas Borkar; Neerja Chowdhury; Arun Kumar and 43 others.

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