Update June 20 : Police attack and arrest demonstrators-State crushing a democratic movement


Massive Lathicharge on Nonadanga protesters: Another example of state’s effort to crush a democratic movement


A Report by Nilanjan Dutta
The day before, police said they would not permit any rally at Esplanade by the evicted people from Nonadanga.
On the morning of 20 June, they did not object when the rally was held and allowed the 200-odd participants to occupy the ‘Y Channel’, which is actually a narrow strip of land beside a huge garbage vat between the main tram and bus stations at Esplanade. Of late, this highly inconvenient and acutely stinking spot seems to have been earmarked to accommodate all the ‘non-mainstream’ demonstrators who are no better than garbage in the eyes of the administration.
As the public meeting went on, at one stage the police brought an offer from the Writers’ Buildings that the minister in charge would meet the committee delegation on 26 June. The assembly discussed the matter instantly and agreed to disperse on the basis of this assurance, if the authorities agreed to clear the outlets of the settlement field at Nonadanga that had been blocked by raising a boundary wall. This was causing tremendous inconvenience for the residents.
The police messengers went to convey this to the minister but came back with the message that he had now said he would meet the delegates on 3 July instead of 26 June.
The protesters became restive and demanded an early appointment.
Again, a vague assurance came that the appointment would be advanced, without specifying any date.
The people decided they would not leave until the government made a commitment on the date of the talks. There was no further communication from the latter, but not a rejection of the demand either.
Late in the evening, police officers even came and inquired with the activists whether they planned to stay at the spot for the night and paternalistically talked about the necessity of arranging “protection” as there were so many women among them.
And Suddenly There Was The Lathi Charge.
The wounded were initially herded into the central lock-up at the Kolkata Police headquarters along with the others. They were taken to the Calcutta Medical College Hospital only after their co-prisoners raised a hue and cry inside the lock-up particularly after seeing Sanjay Mandal, a committee member from Nonadanga, writhing in pain before them and from the outside, APDR members began to intervene and express concern to high-ranking police officials calling for urgent medical attention.
The officers though still denied that there was any lathi charge at all!
Earlier report –
Since 11am, residents of Nonadanga started a roadside demonstration/dharna in the Esplanade area. It is being reported that the police carried out a massive lathicharge on the dharna and several persons had to be admitted to Medical College for treatment. While negotiations were going on about when the concerned minister can give an appointment to hear about the grievances, police started picking up certain selected activists at around 8pm and then lathicharged to disperse the rest. Around 40 persons have been arrested including Amitabha Bhattacharya (the chairman of the Uchched Pratirodh Committee) and Samik Chakraborty (who is also an activist of Sanhati).



Massive Lathicharge on Nonadanga protesters: Another example of state’s effort to crush a democratic movement :- 


Today, Kolkata police had carried out a massive and brutal lathicharge on the Nonadanga slum-dwellers & mass activists who were in a demonstration protest at Esplanade,Kolkata. All the protesters were heavily beaten up including women & children.
The protesters started their demonstration against the forceful eviction of Nonadanga slum & also against the recent attack on the slum-dwellers by the goons backed by TMC.
In spite of all these incidents and police brutality, any media, be it electronic or print, has totally blacked out any news and update about the ongoing movement in Nonadanga and hasn’t reported any of these incidents.
At near about 8 p.m., police started to pick up selected mass activists who were in the movement from the very beginning & then brutally lathicharged to disperse the rest of the protestors.
Many of the protesters were admitted to the hospital while 6 of them were seriously injured & is reported in a very serious condition.
Around 40 protesters are being arrested along with Shamik Chakraborty (activist of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad),Amitabha Bhattacharya (president of anti-eviction committee, Nonadanga) & others.
This is clear that the state govt. don’t want to hear any voice of protest & criticism. This brutal attack on these protesters has clearly exposed the autocratic and authoritarian state machinery which is fiercely trying to silent any voice of protest.


Stand firm in the face of state repression.
Come together to protest this fascist trend of the govt.
Demand immediate unconditional release of all the prisoners who have been arrested illegally with forged cases. 
Join the movement against the forceful eviction of Nonadanga
Reject the development model where common people are expended in order to raise corporate profit    

Editor of Towards New Dawn Abhijnan Sarkar and several other activists like Deblina Chakrabarty are arrested on 8th April 2012, when they were protesting against an eviction drive of slum dwellers by state officials at Nonadanga, Kolkata. They are framed with several false charges and put under detention till now. Towards New Dawn demands unconditional release of its editor and all other activists.- contact at towardsdawn@gmail.com

Read more news here

Solidarity statement from Bangalore with anti-eviction basti struggles in Mumbai and Kolkata


June 11, 2012
Dayanandnagar slum residents group , in s Bangalore send their solidarity  supportwith the basti dwellers fighting eviction in slums of Mumbai and Kolkata after seeing pictures and films of their struggles. We also know such struggles are happening everywhere, in our own city such as E.W.S quarters and in other cities besides Mumbai and Kolkata, and we are trying to reach out to learn more and join hands to fight together. When we saw the photos of struggle in Mumbai and Kolkata we felt we had to reach out by letter as these struggles are so far away. Attached is our statement in Kannada and below is a translation into English. In the English translation we added in brackets some points which were discussed after our letter was first drafted in Kannada at the meeting.

 

“We in the dalit and women’s group of Dayanandnagar slum, work on slum resident issues. With respect to these issues, we join hands with you in struggle against the violent oppression directed at you. In both the Koliwada, (Ambujwada) and Golibar struggles in Mumbai, and the Nonadanga struggle in Kolkatta, police violence and the eviction of people from their homes by government officials took place. We oppose the police violence and atrocities, (including the molestation and mishandling of women by male police officers while repressing protests), and the arrogance and oppression of the government officials. We support you, and are with you, hence this letter”

 

in solidarity,
Dayanandnagar slum residents:
Kavitha G
Shivani
Kaveri R.I.
Narasimha
Mani S
Kavitha
Asha
Govinda
Shakeela
Maala
G. Justin
Vasegi
Vanaja A.
P. Venkatesh
Rajeshwari R.

 

Dr Binayak Sen urges ‘intolerant’ Bengal to change policies


(He speaks in Bangla and Bonglish in it. Below is the text from the description of the video.)
4th MAY, 2012, NONADANGA, kolkata
Binayak Sen urges ‘intolerant’ Bengal to change policies

In the wake of the forcible eviction of people from slums in eastern Kolkata, human rights activist Binayak Sen Friday accused the West Bengal government of being “intolerant” and urged it to change its policies to provide people a better living.

“The basis of our democracy is that there should be tolerance for dissent. Where there is no tolerance, there is no democracy. The state should be sympathetic to them but on the contrary it is increasing their sorry plight,” said Sen who visited the Nonadanga area.

“It is a matter of shame in which the people are being treated. They do not have access to drinking water, distribution of food grains through public distribution system, schools and medical facilities,” he said and promised medical facilities to the families living there.

Sen also criticised the government for arresting the slum dwellers who had been protesting against their eviction.

He also rubbished claims by the government of involvement of Maoists in the protests, saying: “Referring to people as Maoists is a shortcut which the state is using against the people.”

Sen had earlier also been critical of the government for displacing the dwellers.

“It (eviction) is a great tragedy and a great crime committed. It is really inhumane on the part of the government to displace the people without providing viable alternative and livelihood options,” Sen had said Sunday.

The evictees announced they would bring out a rally in the city and meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on May 17 demanding shelter and proper rehabilitation for the families living in the slum.

The activist urged the people from all sections of society to come out and support the residents in their struggle.

The area has witnessed trouble since March 30 after nearly 130 families were evicted from the slum because of an ongoing project of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority.

Mamata gags the Dodhichi newsletter #FOE #Censorship


Now, it is the turn of the alternative media in West Bengal to be at the receiving end of governmental intolerance. There is a clampdown on a unique mobile alert service in Kolkata, writes RANJIT SUR, in The Hoot

 Friday, May 04 09:39:52, 2012

The Mamata Banerjee Government in West Bengal is trying its best to gag the language media. It is not news anymore. To some extent she is exposed in this regard, and people are protesting against such a move. But gagging a small but very important alternative media centre remained out of sight of the people. It is mainly because the big press or the corporate media have not shown any interest over it. Moreover, most of the media persons even do not understand what alternative media could be. So the news of gagging of  the Dodhichi Newsletter did not find any place in any major publication in Kolkata, in print or on TV media, barring a line or two in a couple of news media.
What is the Dodhichi Newsletter? According to its director, Dr Shyamal Roy, “Dodhichi Newsletter is a Kolkata-based cellphone text messaging service disseminating information, news, and views not appearing in the mainstream media.” It is in operation running since 2010. In a letter addressed to Home Secretary, Government of India, Dr Ray said: “ Our service provides a platform to hundreds of freelance news-gatherers, social and cultural activists, and NGOs and reaches out to a select list of thousands of message receivers, among them MPS, MLAs, Ministers, political leaders as well as eminent personalities in various fields.“
This writer himself is a message receiver and sender listed with Dodhichi. It’s a unique service, at least in Kolkata. There is no other service of this kind here. During the last two and a quarter years it has provided wonderful service to all the mass organisations and their activists.
Whenever an organisation calls for a demonstration or rally, or any State crackdown occurs on any mass organisation, a single text message (SMS) sent to Dodhichi was enough to inform and mobilise all the activists. Through the Dodhichi mobile newsletter the SMS containing the information reached hundreds of interested persons within seconds. Within a short time, the activists could decide on their duty or they could assemble at the place of demonstration or at the site of the happenings.
During the last months of Budhadeb Bhattacharjee government Mamata Banerjee got the benefit of this service, as it was the time of anti- government and anti-establishment mass movements. Dodhichi was very active in sending news of these movements to its subscriber activists and supporters. But within months of Mamata’s coming to power she began expressing her displeasure publicly against this SMS service. In several public outbursts she publicly criticised this service and Facebook  and Twitter. The first direct attack occurred about six months ago during the Chief Minister’s outbursts against APDR, a rights organisation. The Government of West Bengal cancelled permission to APDR to hold a public meeting in Kolkata, and many intellectuals including Mahasweta Devi and Sankha Ghosh critisised the Chief Minister for this attack on democracy. As Dodhichi was actively sending SMS containing all condemnations and about all protest programmes, one morning policemen in plain clothes went to Dodhichi’s office located on the outskirts of Kolkata. As informed by Dr Ray, the policemen introduced themselves as journalists and entered his office. But within minutes they started collecting mobiles phones, computers, and data base registers. Dr Ray and his family members protested vigorously, and the policemen slipped away.
This time, the Mamata government did not make the same mistake for fear of public resistance. It went the other way round to stop Dodhichi Mobile Newsletter. As Dr Shyamal Ray complained to the Central Government, “on 9 April we discovered that most of our SIM cards (57 of them) had suddenly been deactivated, causing us to suspend our service and of a great deal of inconvenience to those availing of it. The service-provider (Docomo) when contacted, could not give us a credible explanation.” It was at the height of Nonadanga anti-eviction movement when a series of rallies and processions and demonstrations was going on in the City against the Mamata government’s eviction drive and throttling of democracy in the State. And alas, without Dodhichi’s mobile SMS service.
Why did this happen to Dodhichi? Dr Ray wrote to the Government of India: “Next day, Khabar 365 din, a Bengali daily published from Kolkata, presented a front-page story suggesting that Dodhichi Newsletter had been disbanded by orders from the State Home Department.” This writer has gone through the concerned front-page report. The report said that the reason for the Home ministry’s action, as usual, was “anti-state campaign” by Dodhichi through SMS service. Dodhichi’s Dr Shyamal Ray, on enquiry by this writer, expressed his anger and raised the question: “what is anti-state campaign and who decides it?” He explained: “Dodhichi only sends news and views related to legal and constitutional activities and mass movements. What is anti-government does not necessarily mean anti-state. Everyone has the right to criticise or support the government’s policy and send news and views of the movements for or against the government’s policies. This is constitutionally guaranteed”. So, he wrote to the government: “…we are still in the dark about why our service has been abruptly terminated in this manner, without stating any reason and without notice. And if the story published in the Bengali daily is true, then it certainly is tantamount to ‘censorship’, a violation of our constitutionally guaranteed free speech”. He urged the Central Government, to “clarify the matter immediately and instruct the service provider to re-activate the SIM cards so that our service is resumed at the soonest.” The letter was written on April 11. Even as of April 22 he had not received any reply from any quarter. The copy of the letter has been endorsed to the Home Secretary, Government of West Bengal too. However, the 57 SIM cards remain in-operative, and a severe hate campaign is going on against Dodhichi and against its subscribers and contributors in some pro-government newspapers branding them as anti-state and members of “urban Mao-network”.
It is clear that it is a coordinated move of the government and the ruling party to silence this mobile newsletter. The design is to stop spreading of news of the government’s anti-people activities and to cause as much hindrance as possible to anti-government mass movements.
Dodhichi Mobile newsletter has not stopped fully. The spirit of Dr Shyamal Ray, a super-annuated physician, is indomitable. Dodhichi is still running the service, though in a small way, with SIMs from a different service provider which has a number of restrictions and do’s and don’ts.
According to Dr Shyamal Ray, he has a data base of 500300 subscribers who send to and receive SMS from him on various issues. He has divided these numbers in groups according to their areas of interest. The group interested in rights movement and other mass-political activity has 550 subscribers. There are cultural groups interested in music or drama and there are group of MPs and MLAs, doctors and so on. Dodhichi’s service is free of cost. All the subscribers need to do is register their mobile number, name and address with him along with their area of interest. How does he run this service? Where does money come from? Dr Ray says that initially he had to spend Rs. 2.5 lakh procuring good quality mobile phones and a computer. The money was from his superannuation benefits.
Now his monthly expenditure is Rs. 2000 which he gets from his headmistress wife, daughter, and son-in-law. He receives no money from any other source. He himself runs his office along with his family members. He works for 12 hours a day.
Dodhichi is insignificant so far as the number of its subscribers is concerned. Yet the rulers seem to be bent on crushing it. Is the government afraid of alternative thought? Not only that Dodhichi’s services should be allowed to continue without any governmental intervention, but more such vibrant services should flourish in different parts of the country.

(The author is a secretariat member, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, and contributes to newspapers and websites in Bengali and English)

On the situation in Nonadanga – Pamphlet by Uchched Pratirodh Committee


 

May 1, 2012

We Demand Proper Rehabilitation That is Fit for Human Survival for Slum Dwellers of Nonadanga as well as of Majdur Palli, Shramik Colony, Subhaspalli, Lakepalli, Bhai-Bhai Colony, Bastuhara Colony.

We demand immediate release of the 11 arrested along with all other activists.

The slum dwellers of Nonadanga, evicted on 30th of March, have rebuilt their shanties. After the rallies, demonstrations, mass-protests and the 12 day long hunger strike movement, right when the slum dwellers under the guidance of eviction-resistance committee (Uchchhed Protirodh Committee) have built the shades over their head, the government came down again with its brutality on the slum dwellers on the 28th of April. Eleven people were arrested including 5 women on fabricated charges. Till date two of the previously arrested supporters of the movement has not been released by the state.

This movement of Nonadanga has brought to the forefront the demands related to the condition of schools, hospitals, and drinking water along with the general developmental needs of the entire Nonadanga region. Nonadanga’s movement has brought to the forefront the demands – of the slumdwellers, hawkers and small shop owners – for the right to livelihood and right to shelter of those evicted from the fringes of Kolkata. Nonadanga’s movement has challenged the much-touted plan of converting Kolkata to London; it has put a big question mark on the pro-poor image of the government of “Ma-Mati-Manush”.

The state government, the ruling party and some servile media is spreading false propaganda

From the very beginning, the government has tried to create divisions among the slum dwellers. Creating a split between the dwellers of the two evicted slums of 30th March (viz. Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony), and those of Lakepalli, Bhai-bhai Colony and other nearby slums is the government’s agenda. Deliberate and false propaganda is being spread that the dwellers of the two evicted slums had obtained rehabilitation flats from the government and after selling that off, they are suddenly squatting by building shanties in the open field, in lure of new flats. It is also being said that these people are actually backed by land mafias, NGOs and Maoists. Coming from outside, these people are the ones who are trying to disturb the peace in Nonadanga. On the other hand the chief minister is saying that they have not and will not evict anybody.

Is that really how it is? Or are there other things veiled behind?

What is the state’s plan with Nonadanga?

Ever since the Mamata Banerjee government has come to power, among other things they have started to utilize (!) vacant land in around the city of Kolkata. Under the direction of the urban development minister, KMDA has already started to sell off vacant lands in the city following the public-private partnership (PPP) model. According to the KMDA website, there is about 80 acres of land (along with some water bodies) in their possession which they would like to lease out to private initiatives for 99 years. Multistoried residential complex, shopping malls, multiplex movie halls for the privileged, entertainment centers and water parks will be built on these lands.

The entire field, on one corner of which is Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony, is only 19 acres. We ask – where is then these 80 acres of vacant land in Nonadanga? By the mention of the nearby water bodies, it is clear that by vacant land, the slums are being indicated. That is, not only Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony, little by little, Lakepalli, Bhai-bhai Colony, Subhaspalli, Bastuhara Colony, basically all slums of Nonadanga will eventually be evicted. Only then 80 acres of land can be handed over to the land sharks. They will make profits in crores by constructing residences, entertainment centers, shopping malls, and water parks for the privileged. And hence, those who are saying that rehabilitation flats would be built on this land for the poor are simply lying. There’s no mention of flats for the poor in the KMDA website.

Apparently everyone here owns a flat!

And that is why the government and the profiteers absolutely need this land. That is why eviction has been started from Majdur Palli, Shramik Colony. Others are given the false promise of “rehabilitation”. Once they can crush Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony without providing any rehabilitation, then the rest of the slums can be evicted following the same path. That is why their strategy is to create division amongst us, to weaken us and eventually to evict all of us one by one. And then, will follow, driving out those who do not have proper documentation for their flats. We are challenging you, do not get confused by their false propaganda. If even one such slum dweller can be found in Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony who has sold off their rehabilitation flat of Nonadanga and has constructed shanties in the field in lure of a new flat, the Eviction Resistance Committee (Uchchhed Protirodh Committee) will get rid of their shanty. But why is it their fault, if in the rehabilitation flat, there are four or more adult members and due to lack of space they are forced to live in the shanties in the open fields? If you have any question with regard to this, then come to us and tell us where are we wrong? We have kept the door for discussion and consultation open for all.

Again the outsiders!

It is an irony that when Mamata Banerjee was fighting in the Singur-Nandigram movement, the then CPIM government labeled her as an “outsider”. Today Mamata Banerjee, her party and her servile followers are labeling those who are supporting this movement and who are not slum dwellers themselves as “outsiders”. This is a tragic joke in the recent history of anti-eviction movement in West Bengal. Government of the one time leader of ant-eviction movement is evicting or will evict a large part of the slum dwellers of Kolkata. Is this then the road map for Kolkata to become London?

Life in the flats – rehabilitation or exile!

The other thing that needs to be mentioned is the struggle in the everyday life of the residents of the rehabilitation flats, of the small time business owners in the markets, of the crisis in the lives of the many other residents of Nonadanga. It is true, they have received a small flat of 160 sq.ft., but is that enough for one family? The conditions of basic civic services are beyond reprehensible. We do not have clean water, there is an acute crisis of water in general. There’s no government initiated school, college, health-center or hospital here. The small area that is there as a playground for the kids will be taken over to build the park for the elite. Maybe for more profit, the government will demolish even these flats and will direct the evictees of Khalpar, Narkelbagan, and Govindapur rail colony to move further away. Or they will be enclosed within the net of the big plans of development. We the poor are out of place in this prim and proper city of the elite. Today we are entrapped in this tinned construction; tomorrow the entire Nonadanga will face the same condition.

This is the struggle of all residents of Nonadanga, we must win this struggle

Friends, we are forced to enter this unequal war against the State government, their pampered profiteers, against the false propaganda by the police and some media, only for our survival’s sake. For the sake of a roof over our head. But however unequal this war is, however much they try to beat us, we have been winning. That is why they have come back to beat us again. They are making failed attempts to get some of the government favoured fake intellectuals riled against us. Any kind of resistance is being labeled as “Maoist” to gather legal sanctity to repress it.

Even after all that, they have not been able to suppress this movement. They have arrested 11 of us including 5 women under unethical and false pretexts. And still they could not kill our movement. We continue our movement in demand of proper rehabilitation of all dwellers of Nonadanga, in demand of unconditional release of all agitators. Today this struggle is not only for the Majdoor Palli and Shramik Colony of Nonadanga; today this struggle is for all slum dwellers, for the right to shelter. We plead to you, as a slum dweller, as a resident of this area, join us in this struggle. Be on our side as a defendant of the basic rights. We need all your love, help and support. Let Nonadanga be the new name for our struggle. Let there be hope for the defendants.

With thanks,

Eviction Resistance Committee (Uchched Pratirodh Committee)

[Translated by Atreyi]

Click here to read Bengali Pamphlet

Join- United Protest against Evictions and Repression in West Bengal


25 April, 11.30 am


in front of Banga Bhavan 

 (3, Hailey Road, New Delhi)

(nearest metro station is Mandi House)

Nonadanga, Kolkata, witnessed the complete demolition of the over 200 slumdwellers houses on 30th March 2012. The consequent many peaceful marches brutally lathicharged(April 4, 8, 12…), hundreds of activists arrested and seven branded with ‘anti-national activities’, mass hunger strike for 12 days by the local Ucched Pratirodh Committee and daily confrontations with the KMDA and police later, people are rebuilding their houses and questioning the model of developmental terrorism.
We are aware of similar processes of eviction drives in the name of development in Delhi, and we struggle against the (designs of the) ruling class which underpin it.

Of the seven arrested activists, two continue to languish in jail, one of them under the draconian UAPA.


WE demand:

  • Immediate and unconditional release of all the activists arrested on April 8. Drop charges against all seven of them: Debolina Chakraborty, Samik Chakraborty, Abhijnan Sarkar, Debjani Ghoah, Manas Chatterjee, Siddhartha Gupta and Partha Sarathi Ray.
  • Drop the draconian UAPA and all charges on Debolina Chakraborty, and release her immediately and unconditionally.
  • The state must stop further harassment of residents and activists, and apologise to the people for having infringed upon its democratic right to organise and dissent; and take action against the police officers involved in the lathicharge on April 4.
  • The right to housing and rehabilitation of the slum-dwellers and hawkers in Nonadanga must be immediately ensured in a fair and just manner so that that their labour-power is not further devalued.
  • All construction in Nonadanga by the KMDA must come to an immediate halt. The eviction drive in the city, and the anti-people programme of neo-liberal capitalist development of which it is an integral part, must be stopped.
  • The process of slum-eviction in Delhi must be stopped immediately and inhabitants of the jhuggi-jhopri clusters in the city should be provided with adequate land, and respectable housing with clean drinking-water sources and proper sanitation amenities.

Joint pamphlet for campaign in Delhi on the same from mass organisations is attached in hindi.
its english translation, also given as press note, is available here: http://sanhati.com/articles/4956/

Sd/-
All India Federation of Trade Unions(New)
All India Students Association
All India Revolutionary Students Organisation
Bigul Mazdoor Dasta
Disha Chatra Sagathan
Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra
Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association
Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
Krantikari Yuva Sangathan
Mazdoor Patrika
Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha
New Socialist Initiative
Peoples’ Democratic Front of India
Progressive Democratic Students Union
People’s Union for Democratic Rights
Posco Pratirodh Solidarity-Delhi
Radical Notes
Sanhati-Delhi
Shramik Sangram Committee
Students For Resistance
Vidyarthi Yuvajan Sabha

STATEMENT ON NONADANGA -from STUDENTS’ FORUM AGAINST MAL-DEVELOPMENT, Siliguri


How many ears must one man have,before he can hear people cry

How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died ..

 

Yes, we are speaking from Nonadanga slum area,Kolkata. Our government has uprooted all the slum-dwellers of Nonadanga from their habitat. On 30th March, police and Kolkata municipal development authority (KMDA) bulldozed the homes of some of the poorest of the poor people of our country; more than 300 homes were burnt. Even the evicted people wasn’t given any time to move their things of daily usage. They were being compelled to stand roofless under the heavy rainfall and northwester; they are living the same life along with their children under the open sky struggling with all adversities of nature till date.

Who are these people? They haven’t come to Kolkata to live in slums by choice. Most of the people have come from Sundarban after the devastating storm ” AILA” destroyed their villages last year. Some have come to ”The city of joy” only to make two ends meet. There isn’t enough employment in the villages, so they have been compelled to leave their homes and to come to the city to find jobs. Some are rickshaw-pullers, some work as electricians,masons; some work as maids in others house.

 

Are they illegal? Twenty-five years ago, the land-reform department of the state govt. made acquisition of the land on the condition of providing sufficient rehabilitation to the people. But the promise was never kept. Some years ago, the state govt. sold all those land to some corporate MNCs who are to build high-tech cities,shopping malls, IT hub and to use the land for real estate business. Ponds were being filled to make high-riser buildings.But the rehabilitation wasn’t ever provided. The people who were on the verge of being thrown out from their own homes,requested the govt. for several times to stop eviction and to provide them with place to live in. But it was a far cry for the govt. to hear and one day the bulldozer started dismantling everything.

The people of Nonadanga along with many democratic individuals, organizations and students started their protest campaign which is still on. These protestors were severely beaten by the police; on 4th April 68 and on 6th April 114 protestors were arrested. Though police released most of the protestors but haven’t released 7 of them who were participating in the movement in solidarity.

Just a few days back, state govt. had released one of them, famous scientist Parthasarathi Roy when the govt. was put under enormous international pressure. But the other 6 activists are still living behind the bar convicted with false charges and even one of the activists,Deblina Chakraborty has been accused with the charge of sedition and has been charged under UAPA (unlawful prevention act)!!- Their crime? These activists have participated shoulder to shoulder with the people fighting in several movements for justice, against forceful eviction by the govt. and for livelihood. These people have denounced the development policy of the govt. where the poor,general people are being tortured,exploited in order to raise corporate profit.

From the arrest of the professor of Jadavpur University for making some cartoons of the chief minister to the brutal attack on the protestors fighting for democratic rights; from imposing false charges to the activists to bulldozing Nonadanga,Chandmoni- the tendency of onslaught against democracy has turned to be epidemic and is increasing.

Even if today we seat deaf and dumb and act ignorant in-spite of knowing everything, the longlasting effect is not going to spare us tomorrow. It is eating up the society and will swallow every single space of breathing in near future- it will destroy our society. So its not the time for making condolences, its the time to be vocal and to come out with indignation. ”Which organization, which ideology do you belong”-is obsolete in this time when social injustice is turning to be the rule of the day

.Friends, we are urging you to come up against all forceful evictions which is going on throughout our country including Nonadanga. Lets stand hand in hand to build barricade of resistance against these mal-development and for our democratic rights. Lets incorporate our friends,associates and neighbors in this fight for justice and humanity.

Because its only the struggle of the people of Nonadanga which has stopped the state govt. and its powerful machinery for this long from uprooting their homes.Our collective struggle is our only weapon to defeat this tyranny because struggle does matter.

PRESENT IS THE TIME OF STRUGGLE & THE FUTURE IS OURS.

 

 

date:18.4.2012                             -STUDENTS’ FORUM AGAINST MAL-DEVELOPMENT                                                                           University of North Bengal , Siliguri 

Release Deblina Chakraborty entrapped in UAPA and 6 other social activists


A Petition via change.org to The Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission:

Why This Is Important

We are deeply concerned about the dreadful incidents of barbarous atrocities by the West Bengal government upon the peaceful democratic protest movements of various mass organisations, civil rights groups and individuals opposing the forcible eviction of Nonadanga slum-dwellers in the name of ‘development’ and ‘beautification’ of Kolkata followed by malicious arrests of the social activists and their continued detention and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty, a committed social activist and people’s leader, implicating her in cooked-up charges.

On 8th April 2012, a huge contingent of police arrested 69 demonstrators from the Ruby Hospital crossing of EM Bypass of East Kolkata when they had been protesting against the violent demolition of the Nonadanga slums and forcible eviction of hundreds of populace of that colony on March 30th. All those protesters illegitimately apprehended including women and kids were put in the central lock-Up of the Kolkata police headquarter at Lalbazar for nine hours and cases under section 151 CrPc were slapped on them. In late evening, all the captives were released on PR bond except seven civil rights activists. Those activists kept in confinement were Deblina Chakraborty, Debjani Ghosh, Abhijnan Sarkar, Prof. (Dr.) Partho Sarathi Ray, Dr. Siddhartha Gupta, Samik Chakraborty and Manas Chatterjee. They were produced in the ACJM court of Alipore next day (9 April) and all of them were remanded to police custody till 12th April. They had falsely been charged with a number of stringent non-bailable criminal cases made-up by the police under Sections 141 (unlawful assembly), 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (offence committed in prosecution of common objective of disruption), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force on public servant) of Indian Penal Code.

On 12th April, Deblina and all other detainees were sent to jail custody till 26th April after being produced in the court. Surprisingly, in the evening when the defense lawyers had left or were about to leave, the CID put up papers in a secretive manner for the police remand of Deblina Chakraborty in three additional cases—two of which are old cases related to “sedition and waging a war against the state” and allegedly connected with incidents that supposedly took place in Nandigram and Bishnupur during the tenure of the former Left Front government. Furthermore, she was tagged in an old murder case under UAPA. The magistrate granted the plea without listening to the response from the side of lawyers who stood by the accused. Deblina was taken to Bhabani Bhawan for interrogation and she will be remanded to CID custody till 21st April. The other six captives were sent to Alipore Central Jail.

Deblina was a student of the International Relations Department of Jadavpur University. She left her studies to carry on democratic movements and stood by the side of the people. She was devotedly associated with the Singur Anti-land grab movement that had prepared the ground for Mamata Banerjee to come to power. When the people of Nanigram raised their voices against the formation of SEZs and Chemical hubs under the notorious Salem industrial group, she went there and took part in the people’s heroic struggle launched by the Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) against displacement from their land and habitats and was also instrumental in forming the ‘Matangini Mahila Samity’ (MMS). The MMS was a women’s forum that fought against patriarchy, against consumption of liquor, against CPI (M) ruffians (harmads), and was associated with the day-to-day struggles against all onslaughts carried out by the gang of Lakshman Seth-Binoy Konar-Sushanta Ghosh-Ashok Pattanayak-Tapan-Sukur-Naba Samanta. In this land struggle, the TMC, Congress, CPI, SUCI and other political forces also played their part within the BUPC.

The police under the previous Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led left-front regime issued threats to arrest Deblina under the UAPA, but protests from different quarters as also hunger strikes started by her and other activists at College Square thwarted such attempts. The new government under Mamata Banerjee — indubitably more brutal and vindictive– picked up the torn shoes left by her predecessor and completed the process by booking her under this draconian act.

After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee turned her heat against the ongoing peoples’ movements and initiated a slander and intimidation campaign by denouncing the ‘Matangini Mahila Samity’ as a ‘satanic brigade’ to gag democratic dissent and protest menacingly and the police as usual condemned Deblina as a ‘Maoist’ who could be detained, tortured, humiliated and made a prisoner at will.

Deblina had been with the people’s movement for quite some years, functioning openly and participating in various mass movements that took place from time to time. She was never arrested earlier. Now she has been picked up during her participation in the Nonadanga anti-displacement movement and tagged in that earlier case for which charge-sheets had already been submitted.

Deblina is a dedicated social activist who always fights for justice to the best of her ability and stands by the side of the oppressed people in their struggles for rights and dignity. Such a person has now been entrapped under the UAPA in a most conspiringly and cowardly manner. We are quite apprehensive that the intelligence officials would subject Deblina to brutal mental and physical torture in police custody and send her to prison to languish there for as many years as possible. Should we allow such injustice to be done by this vindictive and cruel chief minister of West Bengal? Deblina has started a hunger strike to protest against the unjust incarceration and slapping of UAPA on her.

At this juncture, we appeal to all justice-loving and freedom-loving people of the country to condemn and raise their voices of protest against the despotic police action subverting the law and illegitimate arrests of all the social activists and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty on cooked-up charges.

Please demand in the strongest possible terms the immediate acquittal of Deblina Chakraborty and six other prisoners arrested for standing in solidarity with the forcibly evicted people of Nonadanga and raising their voices against injustice.

Please go through the petition and sign, and circulate it among your friends and colleagues as widely as possible.

For more news coverage updated regularly on these incidents please visit the site ‘Sanhati’ :http://sanhati.com/

1) Child spends 9 hours in police lockup, Times of India, 9 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-09/kolkata/31312546_1_police-station-agitators-demand-rehabilitation

2) Nonadanga: 7 in police custody, The Indian Express, 10 April, 2012

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/nonadanga-7-in-police-custody/934843/

3) CID appeals for custodial interrogation of Debolina Chakraborty, Times of India, 13 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-13/kolkata/31337086_1_cid-custody-nandigram-cases-custodial-interrogation

4) Rights activist with ‘Maoist links’ in CID custody till April 21, The Indian Express, 13 April, 2012

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Rights-activist-with–Maoist-links–in-CID-custody-till-April-21/936070/

5) Debolina starts hunger strike in jail, Times of India, 14 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-14/kolkata/31341596_1_hunger-strike-nonadanga-evictees-fasting

to sign the petition click here:

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-chairperson-of-national-human-rights-commission-release-deblina-chakraborty-entrapped-in-uapa-and-6-other-social-activists#

Microbiologist slams Mamata government, says democracy in peril


Kolkata, April 18, 2012, PTI
Democracy is in peril in West Bengal, Partha Sarothi Ray alleged within hours of walking free from jail on Wednesday, after a number of intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his release. Ray was arrested on April 8 for participating in a sit-in demonstration
protesting the eviction of about 200 families from Nonadanga by the Mamata Banerjeeadministration. He was granted bail on Wednesday, after the public prosecutor did not oppose his bail plea.

“I’ve always considered standing beside the poor and the marginalised, and on the side of justice, as a duty and responsibility. I’ve done that constantly over the past four years. If it is a crime in West Bengal, then I can only say we are living in dark days for the state,” Ray said at Kolkata Press Club.

Ray’s outburst comes against the backdrop of a section of intellectuals, who campaigned for change before the 2011 assembly elections, criticising and demonstrating against the government’s intolerance on issues such as the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra for e-mailing a spoof on the chief minister and former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi.

A visibly agitated Ray said on Wednesday he would go back to Nonadanga (off E M Bypass) and join the anti-eviction movement as soon as possible. “No one invited me to join the movement. I went there on my own, and I would keep going to show solidarity,” he said.

On Wednesday, Ray joined the rising chorus against the government’s alleged intolerance to dissent, right of expression and democratic struggles.

“I, too, played a small role in bringing in the so-called change. But now intellectuals who want to speak their mind are being targeted. I’ve been arrested on an absolutely false charge, brought just to harass me and destroy the legitimate struggle of Nonadanga,” Ray said, adding, “We never meant for such a change!”

Though Ray was arrested for participating in a rally near Nonadanga on April 8, the scientist claimed records show that he was at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research campus at Kalyani, about 70 kilometer from Kolkata, on that day.

Ray said that he hopes his release would “pave the path for the release of the six co-accused persons who have not been granted bail and are implicated in other false charges.”

On April 8, Ray was arrested along with other 68 people. Later, 62 of those were released while Ray and six others – including current and former students of Jadavpur University Debolina Chakraborty, Debjani Ghosh and Avijnan Sarkar – were booked under several sections of the IPC and CrPC.

On Wednesday, while the government lawyer did not oppose the bail plea of Ray, pleas for the six others were opposed.

“I feel like being the lucky one as many prominent personalities spoke for my release. But the purpose would be served only when those six activists are released and Nonadanga’s evicted persons get rehabilitation,” Ray said in the media conference.

Debolina starts hunger strike in jail


KOLKATA, april 14, TNN : Arrested activist Debolina Chakraborty has started hunger strike in the CID custody on Friday to support the Nonadanga movement. Six other jailed activists will also start fasting from Saturday. Other political prisoners in different jails, too, have decided to start hunger strike to show their solidarity towards the Nonadanga evictees.

Meanwhile, a Left Front delegation met the fasting activists at Nonadanga, adding fuel to the movement. The CPI team, led by former mayor in council Farjana Chowdhury, extended support to the anti-eviction activists. “We will bring the matter to the notice of the proper authority and feel that none should be evicted without proper rehabilitation,” said Farjana Chowdhury.

Left Front’s involvement in the Nonadanga movement, however, led Trinamool Congress to show their political strength. Later in the day, KMC councillor Ratan De and party’s students leader Shanku Deb Ponda took out a rally and and campaigned in favour of the eviction. The Trinamool leaders asked other locals to drive away the outsiders who are camping at Nonadanga.

But the agitators refused to give up. “We will continue our fast till the government sends us a positive feeler,” said Amitava Bhattacharya, one of the fasting activists. Trinamool MP Kabir Suman is likely to meet the fasting activists at Nonadanga on Saturday.

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