Kolkata: For the first time in the legal history of Kolkata High Court nearly 5,000 lawyers have jointly filed-public interest litigation (PIL) against the state-sponsored terrorism witnessed at Nandigram on March 14 and 15. It is also for the first time almost all practicing advocates, from19 senior most to junior most, cutting across their professional rivalry and political lines joined hands to seek justice against mass murders by the police.
It was possible because three senior lawyers? associations?Calcutta High Court Bar Association, Bar Library Club and the Incorporated Law Society?had come together to fight atrocities on the people of Nandigram by the police and cadres of the CPM party.
A six-member high-powered committee, led by the High Court'smost respected senior advocate Shaktinath Mukherjee, would take up the PIL in the court on behalf of the 5,000 advocates who have signed the petition. The PIL application was filed following a report submitted to the Calcutta High Court Bar Association by its 26-member delegation sent to visit Nandigram on April 4 and to collect information about the state-sponsored terror, killings and atrocities on women. The delegation included senior advocates Shaktinath Mukherjee, Kashi Kanto Moitra, S. P. Roychowdhury, Partha Pratim Mukherjee, Anil Jana, Jawaharlal Dey, Ashok Banerjee, Paritosh Sinha and Kalyan Banerjee. In its report to the Bar Association the delegation said, ?We found gross violation of human rights and atrocities on the people of Nandigram by party cadres. Wherever we went, we came across allegations of assault and rape. With many years of legal experience, we have concluded that most of the people were telling the truth about the atrocities. They are panic stricken and threatened. The atrocities on men, women and children have been found prima facie to be correct.?
All the visiting lawyers of the delegation have taken individual notes, which would be used during the time of hearing of the PIL. The High Court lawyers? report has clearly stated that the killings at Nandigram and were nothing but genocide. Two women High Court advocates in the delegation, Anita Bose and Shyama Mukherjee, are specially deputed to verify the allegations of rape and molestations by the police and the party cadres on March 14 and 15. The women victims interviewed by them told horrid tales of gang rapes and brutal physical assaults. Among the victims who have narrated their humiliation and torture before the two women advocates of Calcutta High Court on April 4 are: Gita Rani Mal, Babita Das, Kabita Das, Kajal Maji, Malati Das and Janaki Mandal. Gita Rani told the lawyers? team that the local CPM panchayat pradhan at Nandigram had announced on March 13 that villagers must help and cooperate when the police enter the area on March 14. The next morning we were busy in organising the puja of Shri Krishna when police had entered around 10-30 a.m. and started lathi-charge to disperse women and children from the puja mandap. Initially, unprovoked lathi-charge by the police had caught the villagers by surprise. But they soon retaliated with brickbats and crude bombs to resist the attacking force and the battle began. The police opened fire indiscriminately killing at least 14 people on the spot. As the male members fled, the armed party cadres, helped and aided by the police, had started ransacking each and every home. They had pulled women with their hair out of their homes and stripped them naked before gang-raping young women. Gita Rani said, ?We had taken shelter under a cowshed to save ourselves from marauding party cadres and the police. But they had forced open the door and started beating us mercilessly. We were pulled out of the cowshed and our saris were taken and two policemen and a few party cadres had raped us till we became unconscious?. Kabita Das, a married woman with a six-month-old son, had come to her maternal house at Nandigram with her husband to meet her parents. The police forced the entire family members to stay in one room and one party cadre Sonu Shit took Kabita outside and raped in front of the police. Another tortured woman Babita told the woman advocates of Calcutta High Court that she and some other women were busy in Shri Krishna puja when the police had started beating them with lathis. My friend Basanti received a violent blow on her head and died instantly there. ?I have fled from the place and took shelter in a nearby house. One police constable followed me inside the house and raped me brutally there.
A couple of films on Nandigram atrocities are ready for submitting before the High Court when the PIL would be heard by a division bench. The documentary films are produced by the forum of artists, cultural activists and intellectuals with help from different TV news channels. However, the most acclaimed documentary film on Nandigram and Singur was produced by award winning filmmaker, Ladley Mukherjee, who had over 200 documentaries to his credit. His first documentary titled, Singur? Whose land is it anyway? and the second one titled, Nandigram: This Land is Mine depicted the plight of poor villagers and their desperate attempt to save their land from the government. The two films were screened in Kolkata on April 11. ?It is my duty as a film-maker to comment on whatever is happening in the society around us. I realise that serious human rights violations have taken place at Singur and at Nandigram. In most cases, the victims have been women and children. They have poured out their feelings in my films?, filmmaker Ladley Mukherjee said. In fact, films and plays based on the story of the farmers? agitation against the Marxist government'sland-grabbing policy are attracting people from all walks of life. Pancham Vaidik, Kolkata'smost popular group theatre has staged a play Poshu Khamar (Animal Farm) on Nandigram carnage. The play is based on George Orwell'snovel to protest acquisition of farm lands. A commercial Bengali feature film, Tulkamal (A Fracas), based on the story of grabbing land from farmers by crook party leaders, is a blockbuster with all the shows booked for the first week. Actor Mithun Chakraborty played the role of a villager who successfully organised a resistance movement against the ruling party'spolicy of land grab.