Monday, June 16, 2008

How a poor CPM worker built a Rs. 2 crore bungalow

Govindasamy fall aftershock: CPM grapples with rot within
Monday June 16 2008 08:51 IST

K Karthikeyan

CHENNAI: The axing of CPM Legislature Party leader C Govindasamy for his ‘corrupt activities’ has sparked doubts among party cadre on whether the party’s ideology reaches the grass roots.

Shocked by Govindasamy’s fall after his rise from humble beginnings, the cadre feels there is a need for a reorientation course on party’s ideology for all functionaries.

A CPM leader said party cadre presented, at an executive committee (EC) meet, a blueprint of a 21 cent bungalow built at a cost of Rs 2 crore in Tirupur constituency and details of Rs 25 lakh transacted between Govindasamy and Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) for settling a wage dispute.

Govindasamy’s woes were compounded due to his reported SMS correspondence with TEA office bearers on receipt of Rs 25 lakh at MLA hostel in Omandurar Estate in Chennai.

Party sources said CPM State EC member and Hosiery Employees Union Leader K Thangavel of Tirupur made strong remarks against Govindasamy in the meeting even as MP and Tirupur party incharge T K Rangarajan tried to sweep the case under the carpet.

Govindasamy took two senior TEA members to a minister and sought Rs 25 lakh to settle the wage dispute, said party sources. However, the ‘deal’ failed when action continued against mill owners.

This is not the first instance of Govindasamy facing allegations of financial misdemeanour. He was pulled up in 1989 for not surrendering his salary to the party.

Govindasamy also hit the headlines recently when controversy was raked up over streetlights developed through MLA fund in Tirupur constituency. Govindasamy could not be reached for his comments.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Karat goes to USA to strike a deal to throw the nuke deal into the dustbin? It takes dollars to travel to US, Comrade Karat.

Why does a guy who normally goes to Beijing for a commie tutorial go to USA just two days before approving the signing of the nuke deal?

Karat goes to USA to strike a deal to throw the nuke deal into the dustbin? It takes dollars to travel to US, Comrade Karat. There ain't no free lunch in America, they say, Karat.

Anyone prepared to take a non-dollar bet? The deal will be signed and delivered before announcing the Lok Sabha poll.


Publication:Economic Times Mumbai; Date:Jun 11, 2008; Section:Political Theatre; Page Number:2

Guess where comrade Karat is holidaying?

Our Political Bureau NEW DELHI

THE Communists here may be compulsive critics of George Bush but when it comes to holidaying, US is a preferred destination. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, who spares no opportunity to lash out at the ‘Great Satan,’ is now chilling out in the Unites States.

To be fair to Mr Karat, he is not the first Indian revolutionary to vacation in the US. Former chief minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu had to write that he was a Communist when he filled in his visa application for the US when he visited over a decade ago. However, the US has done away with that column in its application forms, which now do not seek details about the applicant’s political affiliations.

Mr Karat’s politburo colleague, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, was planning a visit to the US. But for past several months, problems have been raining for the Bengal chief minister, demanding his presence in the state. This forced a cancellation of the “advance team’s” visit as well. This team was supposed to be led by state commerce minister Nirupam Sen. Mr Karat and his wife Brinda Karat, who is also in the US, are understood to be visiting some relatives. Ms Karat had made a trip to the US last year for the launch of Shonali Bose’s film Amu in which the Marxist leader has a role. Incidentally, the parliamentary committee on women’s bill, of which Ms Karat is a member, is having its crucial meetings in New Delhi.

The CPM general secretary, who is learnt to have left for the US a day after the Manmohan Singh government announced the hike in fuel prices, is expected to return two days ahead of the meeting of the UPA-Left panel on the nuclear deal on June 18. The meeting is likely to witness the US-loathing Left rejecting the government’s plea to allow it to wrap up the India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

Soon after prices of petrol, diesel and LPG were increased, Left parties issued a statement criticising the government for the move and announcing a weeklong agitation. The CPM has been holding the US largely responsible for the global price rise situation and has not missed any opportunity to accuse the UPA government of succumbing to US pressure. The Left had protested president George Bush’s India visit, joint naval exercises and India’s vote against Iran.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

CPM-Muslim-Christist bhai-bhai? No more.

CPM-Muslim-Christist bhai-bhai? No more.

The fraudulent, time-serving Marx-Mullah-Missionary alliance is unraveling.

Jayanth Jacob says there is a dent in CPM’s minority base. Read on….


Dent in CPM’s minority base
JAYANTH JACOB (Kolkata, Telegraph, 11 June 2008)

New Delhi, June 10: The CPM may style itself a champion of minority causes but the proportion of Muslims among the party’s membership in Bengal has been falling steadily.

The revelation comes a month after the party lost two districts with large minority populations in the panchayat polls. And a year and a half ago, a central government-appointed committee painted a bleak picture of Muslims’ socio-economic condition in Bengal, ruled by the CPM for the past 31 years.

The CPM’s own data show that only 14.67 per cent of its members in Bengal are Muslim (as of 2007), down from 14.90 per cent in 2004 and 15.2 per cent in 2001. In absolute terms, there are only 47,190 Muslims among the 321,682 members of the country’s most vocally secular party in its citadel state.

In May, the Trinamul Congress had wrested from the CPM the zilla parishads in East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas, where land-acquisition fears are believed to have been compounded by Muslim disenchantment with the Left following the Sachar report.
The report, submitted to the Centre in November 2006, showed that Bengal’s Muslims lagged as badly in education, jobs and income as anywhere else in the country.

Bengal CPM leader Nilotpal Basu, however, said: “The minorities and weaker sections always believed in the policies of the CPM. I don’t think this percentage drop is something that can give one a definite conclusion about Muslims not joining the party ranks.”

Yet a similar trend is seen in many other parts of the country too (see chart). In Gujarat, where Muslims may be thought to be in dire need of a secular champion, only 6.38 per cent of the CPM’s members are Muslim compared with 9.59 per cent in 2004.
Tamil Nadu, a supposedly sunrise state for the CPM where it held the last party congress, also throws up an uninspiring picture. The minorities (Muslims and Christians are counted together in the state) make up just 2.74 per cent of the CPM’s total membership, down from 4.4 per cent in 2004.

Proving that the plunge in percentage has not been caused by Hindus joining the party in droves, the total CPM membership in the state has dipped from 94,343 in 2004 to 90,291.

In BJP-ruled Rajasthan, where the CPM is struggling to get a toehold, Muslim membership has nearly halved from 9.78 per cent in 2004 to 5.13 per cent in 2007.
Lok Sabha MP and CPM central committee member Mohammed Salim refused to call this a trend. “A drop in percentage in some states can’t be taken as a trend of minorities moving away from the party. Our party neither favours nor discriminates against anyone on the basis of caste or religion. Our members are from all religions,” the leader from Bengal said.

The CPM data do show a marginal increase in the proportion of Muslim members in Left-ruled Kerala and Tripura. But the percentage in these states is still very low, far below that in Bengal.

At the all-India level, Muslims make up 10.22 per cent of the party’s membership — 100,376 members out of 982,155. No corresponding figure was available for 2004.
However, the political organisation report placed at the CPM’s 19th party congress at Coimbatore had said: “More efforts should be made to recruit Muslim and Christian minorities in the party.”

“We need to come up with more action plans to inspire the Muslims and other minorities to join the party,” a CPM leader acknowledged. bhai-bhai? No more.

The fraudulent, time-serving Marx-Mullah-Missionary alliance is unraveling.

Jayanth Jacob says there is a dent in CPM’s minority base. Read on….


Monday, June 9, 2008

CPM, china-patriots in South Block,prtpage-1.cms

Red Star Over South Block

9 Jun 2008, 0105 hrs IST,


As the Manmohan Singh government enters its last year in office, the contradictions in the approach to national security and foreign policy issues between a mainstream national party like the Congress on the one hand and the communist parties, which appear determined to make India a client state of China on the other, are becoming increasingly evident from the communist opposition to the Indo-US nuclear agreement. There are also other serious differences between the approach of the communists and virtually all other national parties on crucial issues of defence, national security and foreign affairs — differences that cannot be papered over any longer.

In its 2004 election manifesto, the CPM has advocated talks between India and Pakistan for a "denuclearised environment" in South Asia. This CPM formulation would result in India acceding to the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) by the back door and in China to becoming the only nuclear weapons power in Asia.

Interestingly, this formulation coincides with what China has constantly advocated since 1998, when it demanded that India should give up its nuclear weapons, sign the NPT and agree to UN intervention in Jammu and Kashmir, as demanded in the UN Security Council Resolution 1172 of 1998. These demands have been reiterated when China speaks of its reservations on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The real reasons for Chinese opposition to the Indo-US nuclear agreement were voiced in an article in the August 2007 issue of the influential Renmin Jiabao magazine, which stated: "The US-India nuclear agreement has strong symbolic significance (for) India achieving its dream of becoming a powerful nation...In fact, the purpose of the US to sign a civilian nuclear agreement with India is to enclose India into its global partners' camp. This fits in with India's wishes". The CPM finds fault with the India-US nuclear agreement for precisely the same reasons as China.

While decrying India's nuclear weapons programme and making China the sole guarantor of nuclear security in Asia, the CPM overlooks the entire China-Pakistan nuclear nexus. Pakistan's nuclear weapons are of Chinese design. China has, over the past three decades, clandestinely provided Pakistan with nuclear weapons designs and technology, including plutonium facilities for manufac-turing thermonuclear warheads. Even if we sign a bilateral agreement for a denuclearised South Asia as the CPM proposes, how do we deal with clandestine Chinese proliferation to Pakistan? Moreover, the Shaheen-I and Shaheen-II missiles that Pakistan periodically tests, which are capable of striking at cities across India, are of Chinese origin. Despite this, the CPM joins the Chinese in expressing opposition to missile defence systems. Does the party want Indian population centres to be defenceless against attacks of nuclear-tipped missiles? Have CPM leaders ever voiced concern about the Pakistan-China nuclear and missile nexus to their Chinese comrades during their visits to the Middle Kingdom?

In July 2000, a CPM delegation including Jyoti Basu and Somnath Chatterjee visited Israel, met then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and discussed possibilities of increased investments and cooperation in a number of areas including agriculture, information technology and electronics, for projects in West Bengal. But, the CPM now vociferously objects to defence collaboration with Israel, knowing fully well that apart from sophisticated systems like missiles and airborne warning systems, the electronic monitoring systems that Israel supplies are crucial for checking infiltration across the LoC and safeguarding the lives of our soldiers. In its manifesto, the CPM steadfastly avoids any reference to Pakistan-inspired cross-border terrorism, while championing the cause of India-Pakistan dialogue, primarily to contain American influence, while Chinese influence in the region grows. One has yet to hear a CPM leader unequivocally condemning Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

While condemning the foreign policies of the NDA government as being supportive of "US Imperialism", the 2004 CPM manifesto asserted that on foreign policy there is no difference between the Congress and the BJP. Unlike the CPM, which wants China to be the dominant power in Asia, with India denuclearised, the Congress party's 2004 manifesto promised to "fine-tune" India's nuclear and missile capabilities, while reiterating the country's commitment to nuclear disarmament. Moreover, while there is a broad-based national consensus on improving ties with China, virtually every political party in India has been forthright in condemning continuing Chinese claims to Tawang and indeed to the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh. The communists alone continue to waffle on Chinese border claims and maintain that it was India and not China that was guilty of aggression in the 1962 conflict!

Despite the Indo-US nuclear agreement, there is strong opposition in the non-proliferation lobby in the US to ending nuclear sanctions against India. An American academic opposed to ending sanctions recently noted: "We did not realise that your communists are as opposed to your nuclear programme as the Chinese. We believe that they would be as good allies as the Chinese in joining us to end your nuclear weapons programme. It's a pity that we did not realise this earlier". What our communist comrades fail to realise is that wittingly or unwittingly, their recipes for foreign policy and national security fit in beautifully with Chinese long-term objectives of isolating India by strengthening their own growing ties with the US, while getting others to undermine India's relations with the United States.

The writer is a former high commissioner to Pakistan.

Friday, June 6, 2008

CPM -- the sinking ship being deserted

Imminent implosion?

Lookback: Udayan Namboodiri

Once hailed as an example of a perfect coalition, the Indian Left is coming apart at the seams. This week, the RSP formally gave notice to the 'big brother', but it remains to be seen whether the CPI(M)'s other diminutives are willing to stand up

Saturday Special is a sub-brand of a Right-wing paper. So why should we complain when the Leftists find themselves in an identity crisis, splinter off into warring groups, trade invectives, kill each other's cadre, etc? We think we should. As upholders of democracy's highest traditions, the Indian Right should not celebrate when its denouement time in the Leftist camp. Rather, the Left should be encouraged to recall their original raison d'etre and clean up their act.

In the process, India would benefit. The terrible wrongs that are perpetrated in the name of "globalisation", "liberalisation" and "restructuring" needs greater and greater armies of resisters. Dattopant Thengadi, the late founder of the RSS' trade union movement, often reflected that life would be much better for India's downtrodden if only the Indian Left discarded its Communist baggage. This week, Thengadiji almost found vindication when the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) announced on a national scale what its leaders had been mumbling in Bengali and Malayalam for quite some time. At a Press conference in Delhi, the RSP practically gave notice to the rest of the Left: Let's rebuild our movement or the revolution is doomed.

This should also be an opportunity to puncture the Left-lib bombast that holds that the Indian Right as necessarily capitalist, and, ergo, an American agency. Actually, a shakha-going chaddiwallah practices more socialism in his daily life than any JNU jholawallah. Simple living-high thinking had been celebrated as the basic sine quo non of the Hindu existence for some 7,000 years before some bearded Europeans in ugly clothes coined that ridiculous S-word. The poorest of the poor have a better chance in life in BJP-ruled Gujarat than Marxist West Bengal. Therefore, it's time Right-wingers reached out to their misguided friends on the Left, "detoxified" them of their foreign germs and marshalled their positive energies in the fight for equity and justice.

Saturday Special requested Abani Roy, a senior RSP leader and Rajya Sabha member from West Bengal. His home in New Delhi was host to a significant Press conference this week in which high-principled leaders from West Bengal and Kerala articulated for the benefit of the national Press the many strands of disquiet that they and their cadre felt in relation to the Left movement. Obviously, in a world that demands chew-size platitudes, the RSP was forced to spell out whether it is prepared for a Left movement that does not include the "big brother", the CPI(M). And, finally, Roy's party showed spine. Yes, was the unequivocal answer.

In his no-holds-barred reflections (Main Article), Roy justifies the RSP's decision not to walk out of the Left Front. The RSP was one of the first to moot the idea of a Leftist combine. The party had issues with the undivided CPI, but its founding leaders decided that these were secondary to the greater necessity of building a powerful coalition of parties committed to true socialism. So, the RSP fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the CPI in the movement to reduce tram fares in Calcutta (1953), the two food movements (1959 and 1966) and was part of all the Leftist coalitions beginning with the United Front in 1967 to Left Front in 1977. The picture in Kerala was identical. So, says Roy, why should the RSP ditch its own child? The sub-text is equally significant. If the CPI(M) has problems, then it should leave.

The other components in the Left Front are watching the developments keenly. At various times, the CPI and the Forward Bloc had not desisted from pulling punches. The Singur mayhem and Nandigram massacre had dragged much of the internal contradictions in the Left to the fore. Dirty linen, miles of them accumulated over three decades, began to be washed in public. But none other than the RSP exceeded the lakshman rekha. Its senior leaders in West Bengal often appeared more vociferous as critics than the sum total of the Trinamool Congress, the BJP and the Congress combine. For this, the RSP had to pay with blood. Last month, on the eve of the State's panchayat polls, CPI(M) hordes did not make a distinction between Trinamool Congress and RSP supporters in their frenzied determination to enforce one-party domination. In Basanti block of South 24 Parganas district, three RSP supporters were killed and their houses burnt. Left Front unity was manifest in only three of the 17 districts of the State. So, in the aftermath of the election, a time when the CPI(M) goes about avenging defeats, they did not even spare "RSP villages" in Nanur block of Birbhum district, where, on July 25, murderous Marxists massacred 11 Trinamool supporters.

Is this infighting? Actually, not quite. While their less fortunate comrades are dying and getting raped by CPI(M) cadre, the RSP's leaders are wringing their hands. These gentlemen have compromised with the devil for far too long and are paralysed by the fear of rootlessness that would surely grip them once they are out of the Front. In 1987, Jatin Chakraborty, one of the most venerable Leftist leaders of West Bengal, had to eat humble pie for defying the CPI(M). In his last days, he was seen sharing platforms with Mr LK Advani, then a sworn enemy of the Left.

Perhaps, Roy and his comrades entertain a faint hope that the CPI and the others would follow suit. Then, reading Manju Kumar Majumdar (The Other Voice), it is clear that the CPI(M) still wields absolute control. But accusations of "back-stabbing" or playing footsie with the Opposition cannot be good enough as adhesives. The ideological content having vanished, nothing but lucre of office holds the Left together. But that, in turn, is no insurance against an implosion. History holds up many such lessons.

Rebuilding the Left

Abani Roy

The crisis facing the Indian Left is deeper than ever before, says a plaintive voice from within. But who is listening?

India's Left movement is in a shambles. Many people thought that with the coming of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government to power on the back of Left support, there would be course correction in the country's neo-liberal economic reforms agenda. That has been proved wrong because the components of the Left movement are working at cross-purposes.

Therefore, the Revolutionary Socialist Party has taken up the onerous task of developing a sharper focus and saving Indian socialism. On June 2, we announced a giant meeting of all Leftist parties committed to making India a truly socialist state. The Maoists who wish to abandon the violent path and take to democratic methods are also welcome. There are many Left adventurists who are waiting for the right platform and this is the first time one such is going to be offered.

Questions have been raised whether this constitutes an act of rebellion on the part of the CPI(M)'s partners in the existing Left Front. At one level, this is nothing but a move to spread a unified Leftist, democratic struggle beyond West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. There are RSP, Forward Bloc, CPI and CPI(M) units in other States as well, but they rarely act in a co-ordinated way. But when perceived from the standpoint of Nandigram, Singur and all other flashpoints not only in the West Bengal CPI(M)--Opposition track but also with respect to the intra-Left disputes that they generated, our June 2 announcement naturally raises apprehensions. We don't deny that this is a warning to the CPI(M). They must undertake course correction and recall the original purpose of their birth. On the other hand, the CPI(M) has been invited to participate in the rally.

The CPI(M)'s top leadership, both in Delhi and the States, is peopled by arrogant people who often act in an immature way. They seem to think that they can do without consulting other Left parties. Mr Jyoti Basu is often recalled from retirement to patch up differences. The 93-year-old leader was once so distressed by the CPI(M)'s attitude that he publicly appealed to them not to break up the Left Front for at least as long as he is alive.

The Left movement has never been in such a perilous state. We supported the UPA because we thought it would check the rise of the BJP. But the opposite happened. The BJP has won most of the State elections since 2004. The Left did not undertake a single programme against the communal parties. Instead, it fought with the UPA on most issues. Here too, we did not insist on matters that affected our core concerns. The DMK had leveraged its strength in the UPA to block the privatisation of Neyveli Lignite Limited. But the Left parties merrily participated in the neo-liberal policies of the UPA. It is often said that when a Communist becomes a capitalist, he becomes much more evil than a life-long capitalist. That is exactly what has happened to Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Mr Nirupam Sen, Mr Biman Bose and all those who justified land acquisition. Today, they are eating humble pie. They have scrapped the Dankuni and Salem project, but the damage has been done.

Recently it has come to light that the same Left parties that had shouted themselves hoarse over protecting the public sector, had blocked Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) from supplying equipment to the Sagardighi Thermal Power Plant in West Bengal. They misrepresented BHEL saying the public sector giant did not have the necessary expertise and the contract was given to a Chinese firm. Now, it is found that the Chinese sold the West Bengal Government sub-standard equipment.

The people of India are disgusted with the Left today. For this we have only ourselves to blame. People perceive the Left as blackmailers, deal-makers, China agents and all sorts of things. This is strengthening the BJP's cause. The UPA Government has also stopped consulting us. The UPA-Left Coordination Committee has lost all purpose. That's why the RSP decided to pull out. On Thursday, we saw how the CPI(M) used threats and intimidation to enforce a bandh in West Bengal. What was their game? Do they expect the people to believe that they were helpless in preventing the runaway increase of prices?

Mr Bhattacharjee had said at a public meeting in Kolkata soon after the UPA was sworn in that the Manmohan Singh Government would need the CPI(M)'s permission to do everything. And now, the same man is trying to fool people into believing that he could not have prevented the petroleum price hike.

Over the past two years, ever since the Singur land scam came to the fore, the RSP has been an outspoken critic of the Bhattacharjee Government's appeasement of capitalists. Now we are saying openly that the CPI(M) has not only weakened the Left movement, but also itself. The politicisation of the police force is so comprehensive that even I, as a Member of Parliament, find it difficult to get a FIR registered in a police station.

A CPI(M) local committee secretary has more powers than an IAS or IPS officer. In Bastanti, the CPI(M) murdered three RSP supporters and when the police came, a member of the victim's family was hauled away to the police station. Now, thanks to a very credible Opposition struggle, the people are finding the courage to give the CPI(M) a taste of its own medicine. We saw this happen in last month's panchayat elections in West Bengal. The same people who once rigged elections in West Bengal to help the CPI(M) win, now rig to help the Opposition win. Resultantly, the Left Front lost 50 per cent of rural seats. This may be the beginning of the end.

A question often asked is, why doesn't the RSP leave the Left Front if it is so unhappy with the CPI(M)'s big brotherism? There are two answers to this. First, the RSP has painfully built up Left unity right from the early 1950s in West Bengal and Kerala. We don't recognise the CPI(M) as the owner of the Left Front, but just another partner. So, we want to strengthen it further. Second, we would be nowhere in Indian politics if we leave the Left Front.

-- The writer is a Rajya Sabha member and RSP leader

Some of our allies are playing footsie with Opposition

The other voice: Some Communist partners are blissfully concentrating on weakening the Left Front. They even don't mind shaking hands with the enemy camp, writes the CPI's Manju Kumar Majumdar

Propping up a friend's foe is not only absurd but also goes against the ethics of coalition politics. Likewise, it is ridiculous to consider friend's enemy a friend. But some Left partners have earned the dubious distinction of finding friends in enemy camps.

These political outfits prefer to bask in the protective comfort of the Left Front. But at the same time, they have developed the treacherous cult of backing Left extremist forces who are avowed enemies of the Left Front. These Left adventurists not only hesitate to target the Left Front leaders at will but also philosophise the idea of subverting the Indian democratic system.

Clearly, the so-called nonconformist Left Front partners have lost direction as their dichotomous political stance might suggest. It looks quite outlandish for a political party with a distinct history to broach the idea of creating an "alternative greater Left Front" -- teaming up with the Maoists and other "compatible groups" -- and in tandem go about mollycoddling the Trinamool Congress, which was born in the lap of capitalism -- just because it opposes the CPI(M).

It is amusing to watch one responsible Front partner courting Opposition parties with mutually insoluble ideologies in an attempt to settle scores with another partner. This is not only new in the history of the Left Front but also underscores a one-eyed agenda to demean and soak away a powerful political ally. One would not have to go far to seek out a better example of political opportunism.

The loss of an adhesive in the Front can be explained in terms of a violent urge for settling political scores and a ballooning lust for expanded space in an already cramped political environment. Contrary to what one might have expected, equations have not improved after the panchayat elections.

Whether the post-poll situation will change only time will tell. But for now it seems that the odd-balls in the Front are out to make the most of the discomfitures of CPI(M) even if that means hitting the bigger partner below its belt.

Ideological differences sustain alliance politics. Thirty years of Left Front rule has seen partners differing on various issues. But things were handled successfully. The smaller partners, too, saw to it that such conflicts were not taken to a point of no return. Once out of the front meetings, the leaders never washed dirty linen in public. The Left unity became proverbial point of reference for the Opposition parties as well.

In alliance politics all constituents have their rights to express their views. As a Left Front partner the CPI also has its own ideological differences with other constituents, particularly the CPI(M). But our party believes in sorting things out behind the Front closed doors.

The Left Front was born through a history of class struggle. After repeated experiments we came together on the basis of a common minimum programme that the Front Government had by far managed to implement in a satisfactory way, even though we had to perform in a bourgeois democratic setup.

There is no doubt that the parties that back the Maoists on one hand and court the Trinamool on the other have anything but a Left alternative force in mind. Now they want the CPI to join their cause. But how can we promote political big-snatch in the name of constructive opposition?

Painting the bigger partner in bad light has become the order of the day. It is easier to criticise but difficult to practice self-introspection. It seems that the common vision of a Left alternative we had in mind before the formation of the Left Front has lost its relevance for some partners. They now want to carve out a political space for themselves when the 'elephant' has fallen in the ditch.

In other words, the conduct of these lesser outfits puts a question mark on their real intent. It seems a disintegrated and not a united Left Front is what they want. Whether or not the Left Front will be able to sustain this backstabbing only time will tell, but certainly it will help the capitalist forces, which have put on the garb of socialism.

Some Communist partners blissfully discount that achievement and concentrate on weakening the Left Front. While they go about shaking hands with the enemy camp, the question that remains is: Do you really need enemies while you have friends like these in the Left Front.

-- The Writer is the CPI's West Bengal secretary

Monday, June 2, 2008

CPM blames corruption for reverses in panchayat polls

WB local poll loss: CPI-M blames corruption

PTI | June 02, 2008 | 12:33 IST

In an unusually candid admission, the CPI-M blamed corruption and dishonesty among its leaders at the village level for the party's poor show in the recent panchayat elections across the state.

"Not everybody in the CPI-M-controlled zilla parishads, panchayat samitis and gram panchayats is honest. We have corruption in our functioning. Even though they are few in number, we have to find out how this happened," CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose told a party meeting at Sutahata in East Midnapore district on Sunday.

Asserting that Communists do not work for personal gain or to accumulate riches and property, Bose, who is also the Left Front chairman, said many partymen and their family members had done just that which had not gone down well with the people.

Accusing the leaders of party-led village level bodies of arrogance, he said they distributed funds and materials given by the state government for the people as if they were distributing their ancestral wealth.

"Is it their fathers and grandfathers' money they are doling out?" Bose said. He also accused partymen of having grown wealthy over the years at the expense of the Marxist party.

"You did not even have a cycle once, but now you flaunt cars and houses. Where did you get the money? Funds are given for the benefit of the people. You should look at yourselves in the mirror and compare what you were like. What you see reflected in the mirror now is your own blackened and mud-spattered face."

Party workers were supposed to keep in touch with the people 365 days a year, but they had grown detached from them, he said, adding that "sometimes even I fail to keep in touch with comrades."

"We have committed mistakes. We have discussed this at the state committee. We have to rectify them," Bose said.

He also blamed the reverses on the 'informal alliance' of the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, Left opposition party SUCI, Jamiat-e-Islami Hind and others and said added that disunity among Left Front partners were also another contributory factor to the poor show.

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

CPM's large scale abuses of human rights 'recapturing' Nandigram

AI Index: ASA 20/001/2008
15 January 2008

India: Urgent need to address large scale human rights abuses during Nandigram "recapture"

Amnesty International is concerned at reports that a range of serious human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, abductions, sexual assault of women and forced eviction and displacement of thousands of persons, have been carried out at Nandigram in East Medinipore District in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. This report focuses on recent abuses, in the context of violence in late October and November 2007, which were reportedly carried out by armed supporters of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which leads the ruling Left Front coalition in the state.

The organisation is also concerned that these abuses took place in the face of inaction by or acquiescence of the Government of West Bengal which to date has also failed to order an independent inquiry into the November 2007 violence.

1. Background

Throughout 2007, Nandigram has experienced violence as CPI-M supporters and farmers belonging to the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (Anti-displacement front, BUPC) clashed with each other in attempting to gain control over parts of the area.

On 28 December 2006, authorities at the neighbouring port town of Haldia circulated a notice announcing plans to set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Nandigram under the Government of India's Petro-Chemical Petroleum Investment Region(PCPIR) scheme.1The project, envisaged as a chemical hub, reportedly required at least 4,000 hectares of land for the proposed SEZ, which was to be jointly developed by the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation and the Indonesia-based Salim group of companies. The land is owned by local farmers.

The BUPC had been formed to protest against forced eviction and displacement of local inhabitants, mostly farmers, as a result of this project. It consisted of activists owing allegiance to several political parties including the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress(I) and former supporters of the CPI-M.

A range of abuses including unlawful killings, forced evictions, excessive use of force by police, widespread violence against women, as well as failure of the authorities to provide protection to the victims, denial of access and information to the media and human rights organisations, harassment of human rights defenders and the continuing denial of justice to the victims have been reported from Nandigram during the year. The scale of such abuses recently intensified when violence broke out towards the end of October between supporters of the ruling CPI-M, and supporters of the BUPC.

In January and March 2007, at least 25 people, mostly local residents, were killed and more than 100 injured and at least 20 women sexually assaulted by armed supporters of the ruling CPI-M, after 1,500 people, mostly CPI-M supporters, were forcibly displaced from their homes as the BUPC set up barricades to prevent access to some of the disputed land. On 14 March, 14 people were reportedly shot dead by police and over 150 injured in violent confrontations between police, supporters of the CPI-M and BUPC supporters protesting against their displacement due to the proposed industrial project. After this, the Government of West Bengal announced that the industrial project would be relocated. However the BUPC continued its blockade as it doubted that the Government of West Bengal would in fact relocate the project.
Protests continued in Nandigram with the demands for justice and compensation to the victims of the 14 March firing being added to the existing demands.

Various Indian activists and human rights organisations have reported that a wide range of human rights abuses occurred during this period.2Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed its concerns about the excessive use of force by the police, called for full consultation with those living in the area about the proposed development and called for investigations into the abuses.3

During the latest outbreak of violence in Nandigram beginning on 6 November 2007, at least 15 people were reportedly killed, 100 injured and hundreds of people were displaced as groups of armed supporters of the CPI-M commenced an operation to "recapture" the area. Media and human rights organisations reported large scale violence initiated by armed CPI-M supporters, and alleged inaction by the state's law enforcement agencies who, according to the reports, failed to take steps to protect local inhabitants.
Reports stated that armed CPI-M supporters rode their motorcycles into the area on 6 November, attacking local residents with guns and home-made bombs and fighting with BUPC supporters. On 12 November, two units of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were deployed in some of the areas in which violence had occurred, reportedly only after CPI-M supporters had stopped blocking their route. Subsequently five more units of the CRPF were deployed. In the meantime, for over five days CPI-M supporters had reportedly established control of the area, forcibly evicting and displacing scores of people and attacking BUPC supporters and other local residents while looting and burning down houses and destroying property. During this period, the media and human rights organisations were excluded from the majority of these areas as CPI-M supporters blocked the main highways.
On 9 November, the Governor of the State, Gopalakrishna Gandhi, described the situation in Nandigram as a "civil war" and stated that the "armed recapture is unlawful and unacceptable."4India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sought a report from the Government of West Bengal on the violence and a six-member NHRC investigative team, which visited the area on 15-19 November, is expected to submit a report in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, the NHRC chairperson Justice Rajendra Babu has stated, in a reply to CPI-M members of the Indian parliament that it was incontrovertible that human rights abuses on a mass scale took place at Nandigram.5
Reports from survivors, eyewitnesses, and relief workers alleged that months of discussions had taken place in the town of Khejuri between CPI-M supporters on their plans to "recapture" Nandigram. CPI-M supporters, armed with weapons, had reportedly been mobilized from other parts of West Bengal and neighbouring states of Jharkhand and Bihar.6Both the state administration and the police reportedly took little action to protect the local communities during the violence, and in some cases were alleged to have participated in attacks. The reports also stated that CPI-M supporters were involved in searching villages, detaining and interrogating persons suspected to be close to the BUPC and seizing weapons.

Amnesty International also learnt that hundreds of residents including women and children who managed to flee the violence were housed in two camps at Nandigram. A week after the violence, media and human rights organisations, which had limited access to these camps, reported that the camps were largely self-managed with very limited official assistance, and those in the camps did not have secure access to even minimum essential levels of food, water, shelter, sanitation, and health services. Relief materials had been provided mainly by human rights and humanitarian organisations. Medical teams from non-governmental organisations were able to reach the camps only after four attempts were blocked by CPI-M supporters.

Following this, during 28-30 November 2007, Amnesty International India took part in a research visit to Nandigram and Kolkata, the delegation comprising also a former high court chief justice, a senior lawyer and a researcher from Human Rights Watch. The delegation travelled to interior villages and relief camps, and met with the victims of the violence, relevant officials and others. This report sets out Amnesty International's concerns arising out of the findings of the visit

2. Preliminary Findings

a. Failure to protect local communities:

At Bhoota Mar in Gorchakraberia in Nandigram, the delegation members were informed by relatives of CPI-M supporters that, on 28 October 2007, BUPC supporters had vandalized their residences. The police said they had little access to interior villages as blockades had been erected by the BUPC. However, the delegation was informed by officials that there were sufficiently early reports from intelligence officials and local police that armed supporters of the CPI-M were gathering around Nandigram.7This was also admitted by the District Superintendent of Police Satya Prakash Panda who informed the delegation that the police had information that "arms and people were being mobilized in the region."8The risk of confrontation between BUPC and CPI-M supporters intensified towards 30 October, but the only remaining police posted at Nandigram were withdrawn without any reasons being given. District Superintendent of Police Satya Prakash Panda told the delegation members that orders to withdraw the remaining police came from his superiors in Kolkata.9However, it was not until 12 November 2007 that CRPF personnel were deployed to Nandigram.

The withdrawal of the state police and the delay before CPRF personnel were deployed left a period of two weeks in which the CPI-M and the BUPC engaged in armed confrontations attempting to assert control over the area. There appears to have been a controversy as to the reasons for the delay in deploying the CRPF. On 13 November, the state Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, alleged that it was the Union Government which had caused the delay.10He said he had requested their deployment on 27 October but that several days later the Union Government informed him that the CRPF personnel could not be sent to Nandigram at that time as it was necessary to send them to other states where state assembly polls were to be held in December (Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh). On 5 November, the day before the armed CPI-M supporters arrived in Nandigram, the state Home Secretary P R Roy said he was not aware when the CRPF forces would be despatched there.11However, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Sriprakash Jaiswal, said on 16 November that there was no delay in the deployment of CRPF in Nandigram.12

The Government of West Bengal had already been excluded from several areas in Nandigram by BUPC barricades and armed CPI-M supporters, and the withdrawal of the state police meant that between the end of October and 11 November there was no significant official security presence in the area. Displaced persons in relief camps and eyewitnesses informed the delegation that during this period CPI-M supporters had closed in on several villages including Sonachura, Adhikaripara, Satengbari and Gokulnagar which had been barricaded by the BUPC. In these villages, residences of BUPC leaders were looted and burnt down by CPI-M supporters. By 11 November, the entire area had been "recaptured" by the CPI-M supporters, resulting in the forced eviction and displacement of hundreds of persons including women and children. During this period, the media (apart from one reporter from the daily Dainik Statesman who chose to stay with the local population) was prevented from entering the villages by CPI-M supporters. On 12 November, a team of social activists from Kolkata was able to start visiting some of the areas in Nandigram. Its report gives a graphic account of the difficulties encountered by that team and the media during the visits.13

From the above accounts, it is clear that the recent violence in Nandigram took place against a backdrop of inaction by the Government of West Bengal, including tacit acceptance of the violent operations of the armed supporters of the CPI-M. The state has a responsibility to protect the human rights of everyone within its jurisdiction, and accordingly to uphold law and order. This would include, where necessary, measures by law enforcement agencies such as taking appropriate action to end the blockade by the BUPC. But the manner in which the state authorities have acted, and in particular their failure to take action to prevent abuses by armed supporters of the CPI-M, suggests that they were not acting in an impartial manner. No arrests were carried out prior to the violence despite the flow of intelligence information that arms were being mobilised in the region; no search operations were carried out. No arrests were carried out during the period of the violence, and West Bengal Director-General of Police, Anup Bhushan Vohra has stated that since the police only had access the nearby town of Khejuri, where it was likely that only CPI-M supporters would have been arrested, no arrests had been ordered as "it would have been seen as partisan."14

Many local residents were caught up in the violence and, in the absence of sufficient protection from state law enforcement agencies, had to flee their homes and take refuge with relatives or in relief camps. The delegation found evidence to demonstrate that both the state administration and the police appeared to have taken little action or responsibility to exercise due diligence in preventing, stopping and punishing human rights abuses and to protect the local communities during the violence.

b. Victims of violence:

The numbers as well as the identities of persons killed and missing from Nandigram during this period remain unknown. Officials gave the delegation a list of five persons who died during the violence, but local authorities stated to the delegation that at least 42 people were reported missing from the days of the November 2007 violence, many of whom were presumed to have been killed. BUPC activists informed the delegation that an unknown number of persons, including BUPC supporters, had gone missing; some of whom might have gone into hiding fearing attack by CPI-M supporters. The BUPC stated in addition that complaints made to the police about missing persons had not been properly registered.

On 5 December, a grave with the remains of five half-burnt bodies was discovered at Bamanchok village near Khejuri.15. Investigating agencies were trying to establish whether, as claimed by the CPI-M, the five persons were CPI-M supporters, including four from Gokulnagar near Nandigram and one from Belda, 50 km from Nandigram, who were killed in a bomb blast on 28 October.16Conflicting information received from local residents by the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), however, alleged that they had been killed while making bombs at Sherkhan Chak17.

On 8 December, human remains were recovered from the Talpati canal in Bhangabera near Nandigram.18On 12 December, another body with two bullet holes was found in a field at Maheshpur. Shyamali Pramanick, a woman from the area, was reported to have claimed that the deceased was her husband, Harun Pramanik, a BUPC supporter who had been missing since 7 November.19On 14 December, two more local women, Sumitra Mirda and Annapurna Mondol, arrived at the Tamluk hospital to lay claim to the body. They said their husbands had been missing since 7 November.20

c. Violence against women
The delegation interviewed several women who had been subjected to violence including rape, beating, threats and harassment. In addition, testimony concerning numerous incidents of violence against women has been gathered by several fact-finding teams investigating events that occurred in March as well as November. Anuradha Talwar, an activist who was part of the first fact-finding team which reached Nandigram on 16 November, in a deposition submitted to the delegation, said in Satangabari village alone, local residents informed them that at least seven women had been raped.21In one case, a woman said that she was beaten and her four-month-old son was snatched and flung on the floor. Another woman said that though she was pregnant, she was beaten until she bled.22

The delegation questioned officials of the Government of West Bengal and the state police about their efforts to investigate and prosecute violence against women. They found that very few incidents had been reported to the police and there were contradictory accounts from the different police forces as to exactly how many complaints of rape had been filed.

CRPF Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) Alok Raj stated that five cases of rape were registered at Nandigram including three after the November violence.23As against this, the Officer-in-Charge, Nandigram police station said only two complaints of rape had been filed in the area.24

The Chief Secretary of West Bengal told the delegation that the authorities were taking the allegations of rape very seriously: "The accused generally belong to either political party. We have taken the cases of the women away from the local police. These cases are now being enquired by the Criminal Investigation Department of the State Police (CID)."25

However, the delegation is concerned that these words have not so far been translated into action. In each of the cases given by the CRPF, some of the perpetrators were named.26Yet, none of these names figured among the list of persons arrested so far. A number of local residents informed the delegation that the offenders were operating with impunity, taunting the people, forcing them to shout slogans in support of CPI-M, or attend CPI-M party meetings

Accounts of both officials and villagers relating to violence against women agreed that the victims were either relatives or sympathisers of BUPC, and named the perpetrators as groups of armed supporters of the CPI-M.

The delegation was told that at least seven women from Nandigram have been admitted to the Government Hospital at Tamluk.. Two of them had been shot at, four were beaten and one was raped. Several others were admitted to hospitals closer to Nandigram.

The delegation met two women27who both said they had been raped by several persons during the violence in November. Among the rapists were men whom they knew and could recognize. Although they had named these men when they made their complaints, three weeks later, the police had not made any arrests. The women said they were too frightened to return home.

One of them, Akhreja Bibi, was still at the Tamluk hospital. She said that several men burst into her home in the middle of the night on 8 November. "I tried to run away but they caught me and beat me up. They raped my daughters in front of me and then they raped me." Akhreja Bibi's daughters, Ansura, 16, and Mansura, 14, are still among those missing from Nandigram. When the delegation asked about them at the Nandigram police station, the Officer-in-Charge said there was news that the girls had joined a circus at Howrah, Kolkata.28

The delegation also met Niyoti Patra, a BUPC supporter, who said she was also raped by several persons; she said she could not return home. "I know those men. They came to my house and asked me to join a meeting," she said. "When I refused they came inside and abused me. Then they raped me. There were three men. They were my neighbours. I am frightened. I have named them in my police report. Now they will punish me again." She has since been staying at the Nandigram school relief camp.

Roshomoi Das Adhikari, a woman in her 80s and mother of a prominent BUPC leader, Swadesh Das Adhikari, was beaten with rifle butts by three persons she could recognise as "CPI-M people". She said she was alone at home on 7 November. Her son and most of the villagers had already fled from the area. Three men burst into her house and started throwing things around. "I ran out into the courtyard shouting for help. Two men with big guns were standing there. They started beating and kicking me. They tore at my sari, slapped me, pulled my hair and cursed me. Meanwhile, the others had set fire to my house. As they left they threatened me and told me that they would kill my son. I just lay there bleeding."29She also was able to name the CPI-M supporters.

Another woman, wife of a prominent BUPC member, said her home had been looted and burnt. Living in a relief camp, she said that when she returned to harvest the paddy, CPI-M supporters shouted abuses and threatened sexual violence. She was still in Nandigram school relief camp when the delegation met her, terrified because the district administration wanted to shut the camp and send her home. "I cannot describe the language they used. They told me, 'The CRPF will leave. Then we will come find you. We will chop off your head and kill your husband'."30

Several women who returned to their homes after the end of this period of violence, said that threats of sexual violence were made against them if they did not support the CPI-M. One woman said that she was forced to attend a party rally on 28 November because she was warned that she would otherwise be stripped in public and then raped along with her daughters.31Mahamaya Das Adhikari said that she went back to her village on 26 November but had to return to the camp a day later because her parents were threatened by CPI-M supporters. They were told that either their daughter had to publicly pledge her support to the CPI-M or not bother to return.32

Threats of violence have continued even after those who were displaced returned to their villages. CPI-M supporters are in "effective control" of most of the villages in Nandigram, and in some areas, particularly former BUPC strongholds like Satengbari, they have reportedly threatened women saying "We'll come back at night -- light your lamps and wait for us with open doors. Send your men away, we'll come back to you at night."33

From the above accounts, it appears that there has been a deliberate pattern of gender based violence directed against women residents of Nandigram who were left behind as local male residents fled the advancing CPI-M supporters. The violence was directed against those women who were at the forefront of the protest against forced eviction and were unwilling to give up their homes and lands. Also, the delegation was informed by local residents that many women had refused to file police reports as they were still afraid of the consequences if they filed complaints with the police and were also unwilling to risk social censure associated with rape.

3. Key areas of concern

a. Due diligence:

Immediately after the violence, the Government of West Bengal defended the violence by the armed supporters of the CPI-M, and blamed the BUPC for the blockade and the subsequent violence. In media briefings Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee claimed that the protesters had been "paid back in the same coin" and that his party was both "legally and morally correct" to "recapture" Nandigram,34a comment which he apparently retracted three weeks later while admitting that the Nandigram events amounted to a "political and administrative failure."35Later, on 26 December 2007, he visited Nandigram to express regret for the violence, according to reports.36

East Medinipore District Magistrate Anoop Kumar Agrawal informed the delegation members that, after the written notification for withdrawal of the SEZ notice was issued to him on 19 March 2007, he had held meetings with the BUPC and the other parties to resolve the issue; however, by this time, the BUPC appeared to have lost confidence in the administration.37As a BUPC activist, Sudhin Bijoli, put it "The Chief Minister may have said that he would not force us to leave, but he was saying so many things and there was nothing in writing. How could we trust him?"38

West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb told the delegation that "we could not create an atmosphere of confidence ... We failed to persuade the people to allow the police to enter. They saw the police as partisan and against them."39

Amnesty International is concerned by officials' apparent readiness to accept this lack of confidence in the police and by the failure of the state authorities to take proactive steps to rectify it. The manner in which the Government of West Bengal failed to take positive action to address the issue suggests that the government was acquiescent in the human rights abuses by the armed supporters of the CPI-M during the November violence.

Amnesty International opposes human rights abuses whoever commits them and regardless of the cause espoused by the perpetrators. States have a responsibility to respect the human rights of all individuals within their jurisdiction -- that is, not to commit human rights violations or to permit their officials to do so. They also have a responsibility to exercise due diligence to protect all individuals within their jurisdiction against human rights abuses by non-state actors by ensuring the maintenance of public order and security by state law enforcement agents authorised to do so and acting in compliance with international human rights standards on law enforcement, and by preventing, stopping and punishing human rights abuses by non-state actors.

Amnesty International is concerned that in this instance the state authorities have not fulfilled their responsibility to exercise due diligence to protect human rights. The recent failure to ensure an effective police presence to maintain law and order permitted, or even encouraged organized groups of armed supporters of the ruling party to step in to quell the protests by the BUPC, instead of the state exercising its responsibility to deal with them lawfully by effective, impartial and proportionate law enforcement measures. Amnesty International is also concerned that that state has not taken adequate measures to ensure that the population whose livelihood will be affected by the development of the SEZ is protected against forced eviction, by being ensured their rights to information, adequate consultation, and just and adequate reparation including resettlement in adequate alternative accommodation.

b. Justice for the victims:

In Nandigram, there has been a general failure on the part of the authorities to ensure progress in investigations into earlier violence in January and March 2007. It is to be noted that no departmental or disciplinary action has been initiated against any administrative or police official for despite loss of life and property in the area. The Kolkata High Court, on response appeal filed by the APDR, the Paschimbanga Khet Mazdoor Samity (PBKMS) and other organisations, ordered an investigation by the CBI into the violent confrontations of 14 March when police used excessive force and fired on demonstrators. The CBI's preliminary report named at least ten CPI-M supporters -- who were later released by the state police -- as accused persons. The Government of West Bengal obtained a stay on this investigation. However investigations were finally re-instated on 16 November and the CBI commenced its investigations into the 14 March violence on the basis of its preliminary report of 24 March. The CBI, which submitted an interim report to the Kolkata High Court on 17 December, has been directed by the High Court to file its final report by 15 February 2008.40As per interim report, the CBI is reported to have filed four new cases against several CPI-M supporters, including a case of sexual assault, bringing the total number of cases against the CPI-M supporters to seven.41Even as the CBI was also inquiring into the allegation whether the state police was aware that the CPI-M supporters fired, along with them, on the protestors, the Government of West Bengal has successfully obtained a stay, from the Supreme Court of India, on the filing of charges against state police officials found responsible for the 14 March police firing.42.

Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb informed the delegation that the Government of West Bengal had allocated funds for compensation of the victims of the 14 March violence as per the Kolkata high court order and that this was being distributed. However, the District Magistrate informed the delegation that he had received no formal notification nor had funds been released for disbursement.43On 31 December 2007, the compensation amounts were finally paid to 13 of the 14 victims of the 14 March police firing, according to reports.44

The Kolkata High Court, in a judgment delivered on 16 November described the police firing on demonstrators on 14 March as unconstitutional and illegal.

Amnesty International believes that the general impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of human rights abuses in Nandigram since January 2007 was a key contributing factor to the widespread abuses committed there since 6 November.

The CRPF was finally deployed on 12 November, and although this brought an end to overt violence, threats and intimidation continued, putting at risk the lives and safety of the local inhabitants. There has been very little sign of effort to arrest perpetrators, who have allegedly been threatening BUPC supporters against filing complaints, demanding their attendance at CPI-M party meetings and suggesting that they admit to looting and burning their own homes.45

CRPF DIG Alok Raj expressed to the delegation his view that the state police force personnel did not appear to be interested in arresting the perpetrators and were interfering in the CRPF's operations. The CRPF was given a list of 180 people against whom there are registered cases of murder. But those arrested by the CRPF have all been released by the state police. Alok Raj said, on 21 November, he had sent an official notice to the Government of West Bengal, stating that a complete list of persons wanted in connection with offences in Nandigram was yet to be submitted by the state police and that if those arrested by the CRPF were subsequently released by the state police, it "will not allow normalcy to return in the area."46

Amnesty International, while noting that the Government of West Bengal has ordered inquiries as a result of the unearthing of bodies at Nandigram this month, points out that the Government has not so far taken any steps to establish the whereabouts of all those who have been missing from Nandigram since 6 November.

The Constitution of India clearly provides, in Article 32, for constitutional remedies when fundamental rights appear to have been violated, as in the case of the abuses committed during the violence in Nandigram.

Under international human rights standards states have a responsibility to take apporopriate legislative, administrative and other measures to prevent violations and, where they occur, to investigate them effectively, promptly, thoroughly and impartially and where appropriate to take action against those alleged to be responsible. They should also ensure that victims have equal and effective access to justice, and provide them with effective remedies, including full and effective reparation. Reparation should include restitution, compensation for economically assessable damage, rehabilitation, satisfaction -- including public acknowledgement of the facts and sanctions against those responsible -- and guarantees of non-repetition.47

In particular, the obligation of states to conduct prompt, thorough, effective and impartial investigations into killings and other human rights abuses is also provided in international human rights law, including Article 2(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by India in 1979. In its General Comment on Article 2 the Human Rights Committee, the expert body charged with overseeing the implementation of this Covenant, has stated, among other things:

"There may be circumstances in which a failure to ensure Covenant rights as required by article 2 would give rise to violations by States Parties of those rights, as a result of States Parties' permitting or failing to take appropriate measures or to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate or redress the harm caused by such acts by private persons or entities. States are reminded of the interrelationship between the positive obligations imposed under article 2 and the need to provide effective remedies in the event of breach under article 2, paragraph 3."48

Amnesty International urges the West Bengal authorities to ensure that the CBI investigations into the 14 March demonstration are not obstructed any further, and that all incidents of human rights abuses in the context of the violence since early 2007 are thoroughly investigated and the suspected perpetrators brought to justice.

In addition, Amnesty International urges the Government of West Bengal to urgently set up an independent and impartial inquiry into the violence at Nandigram since early 2007 including the violence since 6 November. Such an inquiry should examine broader issues than criminal responsibility, such as systemic factors, procedural deficiences, contextual factors leading to the violence, and accountability of the state authorities for failures to provide effective protection.
Such an inquiry should in particular include an investigation into disappearances of persons, illegal possession of weapons by all non-state actors at Nandigram and an assessment of the impact and extent of violence against women at Nandigram.49In view of the fact that the Government of West Bengal and different state agencies have been implicated in responsibility for the abuses due to the manner in which they dealt or failed to deal with the violence at Nandigram, there is a need for the inquiry to be carried out by an independent and impartial body . The activities of law enforcement agencies during the violence should also be one of the objects of the inquiry. If the inquiry obtains information indicating that identified individuals or officials may have been responsible for committing, ordering, encouraging or permitting human rights abuses, that information should be passed to the relevant criminal investigation or prosecution bodies. Provisions of immunity should not be allowed to shield those named as responsible for such acts of omission and commission.

The findings of the inquiry should be promptly made public.

c. Reparation and protection of the rights of all internally displaced people (IDPs):

West Bengal Chief Secretary, Amit Kiran Deb, informed the delegation that humanitarian assistance, including the provision of rice, cash payments and medical care was being provided by the authorities. In addition, Rs. 7 million, as compensation to the victims of the 6 November violence, has been released from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund50in order to compensate for the loss of homes and other property in the violence.

At least two relief camps were functioning at Nandigram for those displaced since violence began in January 2007. However, neither of these camps were run by the state nor has the state carried out a survey to establish the extent of damage to property.

One relief camp (shivir) is located at the Brij Mohan Tiwari Siksha Niketan in Nandigram Block-I town, and at its height housed around 3,000 to 4,000 persons. Following the violence since 6 November, a fresh influx of local residents had arrived in the camp. However, by 29 November the number of persons housed in the camp had dwindled to around 250, the reason being that a large number of displaced persons had left the camp to stay with relatives and friends.51

The delegation found that the camp was being run on limited resources by the Nandigram Bazaar Committee, Bharat Sevashram, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and a few other NGOs which had supplied rice, other essential food items and blankets. TMC leaders also contributed relief materials to the camp. Medical services are confined to the voluntary services of local doctors.

The second camp was located at a high school at Khejuri and was run by CPI-M party workers who provide some essential services. Most of the villagers, reportedly numbering 1,500, who supported CPI-M had taken refuge in this camp in the wake of the BUPC blockade in January 2007. Towards the end of December, the camp was reported to be hosting around 750 people. The delegation was able to interview several local residents who returned home from this camp after the November 2007 violence.52

Amnesty International is concerned that the Government of West Bengal has not taken the necessary concrete steps to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction are protected from forced eviction and displacement, and that all those forcibly displaced during the violence are ensured at the very least minimum essential levels of food, shelter, water and sanitation, health care and education, as well as their right to voluntary return or resettlement, and reintegration.

Amnesty International is concerned that not all those displaced have access to essential services such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical services.

There is a similar need to ensure access to justice and adequate reparations without discrimination for all of those who were forcibly displaced as well as those who suffered other human rights abuses.

The Government of West Bengal is responsible to ensure the protection of all internally displaced persons within its jurisdiction. This duty arises inter alia from India's Constitution, which guarantees to everyone in India the right to the protection of life and personal liberty (Article 21) (which Indian courts have consistently interpreted to include the right to access the minimum essential levels of food, shelter, and other requirements to live with dignity) and the equality of all persons before the law (Article 14).

The duty of the state to protect the rights of all IDPs is reflected in the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (the Guiding Principles)53 which clearly affirm, in Principle 3(1), that "national authorities have the primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons within their jurisdiction." The state also has a duty under its international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to provide essential services to all IDPs without discrimination. This is reflected in article 18(2) of the Guiding Principles, which state that:

"At the minimum, regardless of the circumstances, and without discrimination, competent authorities shall provide internally displaced persons with and ensure safe access to:
(a) Essential food and potable water;
(b) Basic shelter and housing;
(c) Appropriate clothing; and
(d) Essential medical services and sanitation."

Amnesty International emphasises the right of all IDPs to voluntary return to their homes or places of habitual residence or resettlement, and reintegration and restitution of their homes and other property, and calls upon the Government of West Bengal to ensure a safe and dignified environment for their return. The organization believes that this will not be achieved unless there is a clear political will on the part of the authorities to put an end to the atmosphere of violence in Nandigram. Amnesty International is concerned that displaced persons who wish to return to their homes will be unable or unwilling to return if those responsible for human rights abuses against them during the violence remain at large, sometimes in positions of authority.

Amnesty International urges the Government of West Bengal that all those responsible for human rights abuses are brought promptly to justice, and to ensure full reparations for victims including adequate compensation delivered promptly and on a non-discriminatory basis.

Amnesty International also urges the Government of West Bengal and the Government of India to ensure that those returning home at Nandigram, irrespective of their political affiliation, are able to return to their homes or places of habitual residence or resettlement, voluntarily and in safety and dignity. They should also be guaranteed their right to reintegration and restitution of their homes and other property, and where this is not possible to adequate compensation, In order for this to happen, there should be the continued and effective deployment of adequate CRPF personnel.54

4. Recommendations:

Amnesty International urges the Government of West Bengal to:

• Ensure that all incidents of human rights abuses in the context of the violence since early 2007 are thoroughly investigated and that the suspected perpetrators, whether or not they are officials and regardless of their political affiliation, are brought promptly to justice:
• Establish an independent and impartial inquiry into all the violent incidents at Nandigram this year including the violence since 6 November. Such an inquiry should include an investigation into disappearances of persons, illegal possession of weapons by all non-state actors at Nandigram and an assessment of the impact and extent of violence against women at Nandigram. The findings of the inquiry should be made public.:
• Ensure that all those displaced have access, without discrimination, to essential services such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical assistance:
• Put in place a policy of adequate reparation, including restitution, compensation and guarantees of non-repetition.

Amnesty International urges the Government of West Bengal and the Government of India to:

• Ensure that those returning to their homes or places of habitual residence in Nandigram, irrespective of their political affiliation, are able to return to their homes or places of habitual residence, voluntarily and in safety and dignity. They should also be guaranteed their right to reintegration and restitution of their homes and other property, and where this is not possible to adequate compensation and resettlement. In order for this to happen, there should be a continued and effective deployment of adequate CRPF personnel:
• Ensure that unlawful methods are not used, or allowed to be used, to quell protests against forced eviction or displacement and ensure that the human rights of all those protesting against forced eviction or displacement are fully protected;
• Protect the rights of the affected communities to information, consultation, participation, and freedom from forced eviction (which requires ensuring their rights to information, adequate consultation, and just and adequate reparation, including resettlement in adequate alternative accommodation.

1 Since 2005, India has been promoting SEZs across the country. The policy of acquiring land for such industrial projects in several states has sparked protests from local communities fearing forced displacement and threats to their sustainable livelihood.

2 Paschimbanga Khet Majoor Samity Report (PBKMS), People's Uprising against Forced Land Acquisition: All disquiet on the Nandigram front, 22-24 January 2007; Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), PBKMS and Manabidhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), Report of Investigation Into Nandigram Mass Killings, 23 March 2007; Sramajibi Swastha Udyog, People's Health and Janaswastha Swadikar Mancha, Report of the Medical Team from Nandigram, 5 April 2007; Report of All India Independent Fact-finding Team on Nandigram Massacre, 10 April 2007; All India Citizens' Initiative, Report of the People's Tribunal on Nandigram, 26-28 May 2007.
3 Amnesty International public statements: India: Deaths in West Bengal during protest against new industrial project, AI Index: ASA 20/004/2007, 11 January 2007; India: Deaths in West Bengal due to police firing during protests against new industrial project, AI Index: ASA 20/008/2007, 15 March 2007; Amnesty International public statement: India: Need for effective investigations and prosecutions as political violence continues in West Bengal, AI Index: ASA 20/020/2007, 9 November 2007. .
4 Press release of West Bengal Governor, Kolkata, 9 November 2007, cited in Time of India, 10 November 2007.
5 NHRC Chairperson's reply to Members of the Parliament on Nandigram, 21 November 2007.
6 Profile of a hooded hunter, The Telegraph, 18 November 2007.
7 Interview with East Medinipore District Magistrate Anoop Kumar Agrawal, Tamluk, 29 November 2007; Interview with Officer-in-Charge, Nandigram police station, Sub-Inspector Champak Chowdhary, 29 November 2007.
8 Interview with East Medinipore District Superintendent of Police Satya Prakash Panda, Nandigram, 29 November 2007.
9 Interview with East Medinipore District Superintendent of Police Satya Prakash Panda, Nandigram, 29 November 2007.
10 Buddhadeb accuses Centre of delaying CRPF deployment, Times of India, 13 November 2007.
11 Prime Minister concerned over violence in Nandigram, Daily News and Analysis, 5 November 2007.
12 Centre did not delay deployment of CRPF in Nandigram,, 16 November, 2007.
13 Report on Nandigram Events, Based on visit by social activists and intellectuals, 8-15 November 2007, p. 2-4.
14 Interview with West Bengal Director-General of Police Anup Bhushan Vohra, Kolkata, 30 November 2007.
15 Five half-burnt bodies found near Nandigram, Times of India, 5 December 2007.
16 CID to probe Nandigram graves, Times of India, 7 December 2007.
17 Communication received from APDR, Kolkata, 8 November 2007.
18 More bones found in Nandigram, Daily News and Analysis, 8 December 2007.
19 Body with bullet holes dug out: Wife of BUPC supporter says shirt belonged to her husband, The Telegraph, 13 December 2007.
20 More claimants to the body from grave, The Telegraph, 14 December 2007.
21 Report on Nandigram events based on visit by social activists and intellectuals, 8-15 November 2007, p. 12.
22 Report on Nandigram Events, Based on visit by social activists and intellectuals, 8-15 November 2007, p. 12.
23 Interview with CRPF DIG Alok Raj, 29 November 2007.
24 Interview with Officer-in-Charge, Nandigram police station, Sub-Inspector Champak Chowdhary, 29 November 2007. Of the two victims, one is at the Government Hospital at the District headquarters, Tamluk, while the other is at a relief camp.
25 Interview with West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb, 30 November 2007.
26 The names of perpetrators in the five rape cases given by CRPF DIG Alok Raj:
A. Case No 316/07 dated 22 November 2007 under sections 448/363/361/380/325/354/506
1. Mir Aahsaan s/o Mir Masi Mir
2. Mir Barik s/o Abu Bakar
3. Mir Ilyass s/o Mir Kadir
4. Mir Kalu s/o Mir Akram
5. Mir Bachhu s/o Mir Akram
6. Maha Aditya Das s/o Sadanand Jha
7. Babun Dass s/o Nishikanta
8. Arubindo Mandal s/o Rishiesh
B. Case No 192/07/dated 11 November 2007 under IPC 376
1. Kallu s/o Ahsaan
2. Barrick s/o Abdul Rafe
3. Bachhu
C. Case No. 30/07 dated 4 March 2007 under sections 448/376 (2)
1. Sri Hari Samantra s/o Vijay Kalicharan
D. Case No 260/07 dated 17 November 2007 under sections 376 (2)/506
1. Kalipara Ganadass s/o Sudarshan
2. Sagar Das s/o Lal Mohan
E. Case No 47/07/19 March 2007 under sections 147, 148, 149, 448, 323, 326, 376, 511 IPC
1. Badal Gara Das s/o Netri
2. Sunil Das s/o Kalachand
3. Sudarshan Gora Das s/o Netai
4. Gopal Garu Das s/o Sudarshan
5. Khorna Rai Das wife of Badal
6. Chargan Shil s/o of Srini Dash
27 Except in two cases which were registered by the police and whose names have been widely reported in the Indian media, this report is withholding the identity of rape victims.
28 Interview with Officer-in-Charge, Nandigram police station, Sub-Inspector Champak Chowdhary, 29 November 2007.
29 Interview with Roshomoi Das Adhikary of Adhikaripara, Gokulnagar, 29 November 2007.
30 Interview with a victim in Nandigram, name withheld, 28 November 2007.
31 Interview with a victim in Nandigram relief camp, name withheld, 28 November 2007.
32 Interview with Mahamaya Das Adhikary of Adhikaripara, Gokulnagar, at Nandigram relief camp, 28 November 2007.
33 Interview with a victim at the Government Hospital, Tamluk, 28 November 2007.
34 Buddhadeb accuses Centre of delaying CRPF deployment, Times of India, 13 November 2007.
35 "I regret saying rivals paid back on the same coin": Buddhadeb, Hindustan Times, 4 December 2007.
36 This time Buddha goes to Nandigram to say sorry, Indian Express, 27 December 2007. Later, according to reports, the Chief Minister announced that the Government of West Bengal has sent a fresh proposal to relocate the project at Nayachar island, also near Haldia and the BUPC has once again opposed it. See: Bengal government sends proposal on PCPIR to Centre, The Hindu, 4 January 2008 & BUPC to oppose chemical hub at Nayachar, Economic Times, 7 January 2008.
37 Interview with East Medinipore District Magistrate Anoop Kumar Agrawal, Tamluk, 29 November 2007.
38 Interview with Sudhin Bijoli, Nandigram, 28 November 2007.
39 Interview with West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb, Kolkata, 30 November 2007.
40 Nandigram: court directs CBI to file report by 15 February, The Hindu, 17 December 2007.
41 Nandigram: CBI files four new cases, Times of India, 19 December 2007.
42 Nandigram: CBI restrained from filing cases against police, The Hindu, 14 December 2007.
43 Interview with West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb, Kolkata, 30 November 2007; Interview with East Medinipore District Magistrate, Anoop Kumar Agrawal, Tamluk, 29 November 2007.
44 Compensation paid to Nandigram victims, Hindustan Times, 31 December 2007.
45 Interview with villagers, Adhikari pada, 29 November 2007.
46 Interview with CRPF DIG Alok Raj, Khejuri, 29 November 2007.
47 These principles are set out in numerous human rights instruments as well as the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 60/147 of 16 December 2005.
48 Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 31 on Article 2 of the Covenant: The Nature of the General Legal Obligation Imposed on States Parties to the Covenant, UN Doc. CCPR/C/74/CRP.4/Rev.6, 21 April 2004, para. 8.
49 Amnesty International is aware that a consultation paper regarding the protection of the rights of witnesses was drafted in 2004 by India's Law Commission and subsequently submitted to the Government of India. Despite this initiative, the Government of India is yet to introduce a witness protection scheme. Amnesty International fears that in absence of a witness protection scheme and against a context in which police are feared to have colluded with CPI -M supporters in attacks against women in Nandigram and where a fear of security and safety remain, that victims and witnesses may refrain from registering First Information Reports or from pursuing cases through the criminal justice system.
50 This contradicts what the East Medinipore District Magistrate informed the delegation when it met him on 28 November. He had said that no money has been released; only an announcement for it has been made to the media by the Chief Secretary.
51 Delegation's visit to Brij Mohan Tiwari Siksha Niketan relief camp in Nandigram, 28 November 2007.
52 According to reports, West Bengal Home Secretary P. R. Roy has stated that the camps at Nandigram were empty and all the inmates had left them while admitting that some of the inmates might have gone to stay with their relatives. See All Inmates in Nandigram relief camps have left: WB government, Times of India, 3 January 2008.
53 UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, UN Document E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2, 11 February 1998.
54 After the delegation's visit, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was reported to have informed the state assembly that the Government of West Bengal was looking into complaints received from some CPI-M supporters in Nandigram that they were harassed by the CRPF. See: WB Government looking into CRPF excesses: Buddhadeb, Times of India, 13 December 2007. Earlier, state Home Secretary P. R. Roy stated that the CRPF would remain in Nandigram till 12 February 2008. See: CRPF to stay in Nandigram till February 12: Buddhadeb government, Times of India, 12 December 2007.

Amnesty International criticizes Nandigram incident in its annual report
New Delhi, May 28 : Annual report of Amnesty International, has criticized Nandigram violence in West Bengal in which around three dozens people were killed.
The West Bengal Government is alleged of conspiring with party workers and accused of killing and raping villagers opposed to selling land for an industrial project.

Nandigram has been the flashpoint of a conflict between mostly poor farmers and the State Government since early 2007 over the refusal of the villagers to sell their land for a chemicals industry complex.

Reportedly, nearly three-dozen people were killed, and police have also found several unmarked graves in the area. According to villagers the toll could be much higher as people remain missing or deaths could have been concealed.

"We have seen that the excessive police forces and the private militia by ruling parties in West Bengal, Orissa and Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, leading to unlawful killings, forced evictions, violence against women, harassment of human rights defenders, denial of excess of information to the media and human right groups, and denial of justice to victims of violence, specially in the context of people's right over the actual resources, and in the context of Special Economic Zones (SEZ)," said Mukul Sharma, Director of Amnesty International, India after releasing the report in New Delhi on Wednesday

"We have seen Nandigram, private militia owing close alliance to the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)) and arms supporter of the local organisation battling for the territorial control. In Orissa, 50 people were injured during year long protest by farmer groups against forced displacement because of a steel plant project," added Sharma.

The report also highlighted violation of human rights by the security forces in the militancy or Maoist affected Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Nagaland.

"The Report also highlights the security and it's impact over human rights. Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland and Assam remain very much a red-light zone in terms of human rights. State and non-state actors continue to enjoy the impunity for torture, death in custody, unlawful killings and disappearances. This is (despite) progress made in the peace initiative over Kashmir and Nagaland," added Sharma.

Over 45,000 people have been killed in militancy related violence since it broke out in 1989 in Kashmir. Human rights groups put the toll at around 60,000 dead or missing.

Thousands of people have been killed since the Maoists began their insurgency in the late 1960s.

The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers and routinely call strikes, attack government property and target local politicians.

Their influence has been growing and now stretches across large parts of rural eastern and southern India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the rebels the biggest challenge to the country's internal security.
--- ANI