Gun rules in Left-ruled
The incidents in Nandigram are shocking, said Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Shri L. K. Advani. He said it is a fit case for the imposition of Article 355 as rule of law has been replaced by barrels of guns. ?I wonder what the central government is doing?, he said and added: ?My visit to Nandigram is a shocking experience.?
Shri Advani visited on November 13 some of the trouble-torn villages of Nandigram with an NDA Parliamentary team. He met the homeless persons and the injured in hospital. Accompanied by Sushma Swaraj, Sharad Yadav and seven other NDA MPs, Shri Advani sought the imposition of Article 355. The Article states that it is the duty of union government to protect every state against external aggression as well as internal disturbance and to ensure that its governance is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
He said, ?This is the second time I have come to Nandigram after the March 14 carnage. That time it was the police and now it is CPM cadres. I want to ask Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee whether he has been able to arrest or punish even one of culprits since March 14 incident. What is happening in Nandigram has never happened anywhere during the past 60 years and I wonder what the central government is doing.? Leader of the Opposition promised to raise the issue in the winter session of Parliament.
The outrageous statement that villagers of Nandigram have been ?paid back in their own coin? by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee only to express his joy and satisfaction over the bloody recapture of Nandigram by armed CPM goons has ignited a widespread protest from all walks of life in West Bengal. In a fitting reply to Bhattacharjee, over 100,000 people, bearing no political affiliation or leaning, thronged Kolkata streets on November 14 and marched in a silent procession, led by frontline Kolkata intelligentsia, to take on the ruling CPM for unleashing violence to crush dissent.
The city'sleading lights like Mahashweta Devi (writer and social activist), Bibhash Chakraborty (play writer), Manoj Mitra (play writer), Aparna Sen (filmmaker), Mrinal Sen (filmmaker), Rituparna Ghosh (filmmaker) Jogen Chowdhury (painter), Subhaprasanna (painter), Anjan Dutta (actor and singer), Pallab Kirtaniya (singer), Rupam Islam (lead vocalist of Bangla band Fossil), Kaushik Sen (actor), Parambrata Chatterjee (actor), Sirshendu Mukherjee (writer), Joy Goswami (poet), Usha Uthhup (singer) and social activist Medha Patkar led the procession. Several luminaries who marched with them were once known for their sympathy to Leftist ideology.
The march started sharp at 1 pm in the afternoon from the College Square in central Kolkata. There had been no mobilisation of the participants, as happens with political rallies. People from different parts of the city and suburbs had arrived well before the scheduled time and had waited patiently for the march to commence. When the marchers had started walking slowly towards Esplanade, the numbers kept swelling with thousands of rally watchers on the street joining the silent procession voluntarily. It reminded many about the historical protest march on Kolkata streets, led by Rabindranath Tagore, to protest against the partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon in 1906.
Marchers took almost two hours to reach the destination point at Esplanade, a little over 3 kilometers away from the starting point near Kolkata university campus. While the marchers walked silently, young and elderly women showered flowers on them from balconies and roof-tops expressing their solidarity. Not a word was spoken, no slogan was uttered, no political threat hurled, but the silence was greater than sound and slogans to caution the dictatorial might of the CPM. A podium has been standing at the heart of Esplanade, the busiest square of Kolkata, since 14th March 2007 when the first spate of violence had claimed 14 lives in Nandigram. The marchers had assembled around the podium where eminent personalities addressed the gathering. Tagore'spatriotic songs were sung, poems recited.
Even after the unprecedented protest march in the city and widespread condemnation against the Chief Minister'sopen support to the CPM's?eye for an eye? revenge tactic in Nandigram, there is no change in the mind and voice of Bhattacharjee. He told mediapersons at Writers? Buildings on November 14 evening, ?I repeat that our cadres have paid Trinamool Congress, Maoists and the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee activists in Nandigram in their own coin. Our men have been out of their homes for months and are desperate to return. So, they have used their might.? No doubt, what the Chief Minister said echoes what Prakash Karat had said in Delhi on Monday or what Biman Bose has been telling in Kolkata over the past few days.
That the Chief Minister not only admitted that his armed party men have recaptured Nandigram but also justified it, which may raise serious constitutional questions about the Left Front government rule. It may be interpreted that the Chief Minister has greater faith in his party'sarmed cadres than in the rule of law to resolve Nandigram crisis. Bhattacharjee'sstatement actually makes him vulnerable to the charge of willfully violating his constitutional responsibilities by letting armed goons to usurp the administration'sresponsibility. It may also be stated that the Chief Minister has called for a politics of guns and that may rob him of the moral and constitutional authority of his chair.
The consequences of the call can be dangerous in West Bengal where violence has replaced democratic process to resolve political disputes. With blood on their hands, as the CPM cadres celebrate ?the new sunrise in Nandigram?, the party has struck a match to ignite turf war in West Bengal.
There is no denying the fact that the movement in Nandigram was not entirely peaceful and non-violent. But for a Chief Minister to say publicly that the protestors are paid back in their own coin is to endorse partisan warfare. That Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee thinks and acts in terms of ?our people and their people? shows that he is the Chief Minister of CPM and not West Bengal.
In fact, strongly-worded statement issued by the West Bengal Governor, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, in which he clearly condemned the party goons for murdering innocent people and capturing villages in Nandigram block, is enough to indicate that there is no constitutional government in West Bengal. Similar sentiment is also expressed in the ruling of the Kolkata High Court on November 13. While admitting a PIL, Justices G.C.Gupta and Tapan Mukherjee said, ?There is evidence to show that the rule of law is not prevailing in Nandigram.? Upholding the rights of the people and the media to free movement, the judges said, ?The state government shall ensure entry of media and social workers in Nandigram and also their safe return.?
During the 30 years of the Left Front rule, there have been a series of violent attacks by CPM armed cadres on unarmed villagers in West Bengal. The party guns killed people freely in Nanoor, Panskura, Chhoto Angaria, Garbeta, Ghatal, Goghat, Khanakul, Keshpur and Singur. Ironically, almost all the present hotspots in West Bengal are CPM strongholds till a few months ago. But the picture is now changing fast. With land reforms reaching saturation point and the rural neo-rich now hobnobbing with CPM village poor have now been pushed to corner. This is evident from the recent ration riots all over the state. And the party retaliated with bigger violence.
Nandigram'stryst with violence began with the CPM fighting its own men. The disgruntled cadre left the party to save their own farm land from government acquisition, floated Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee, and some of them took arms to resist. CPM has been desperate to check the erosion of its vote bank. This desperation has led to violence.
In fact, CPM'slong history of violence is rearing its ugly head once again. Unable to win over its opponents and frustrated at losing turf, the party has now unleashed an unprecedented attacks on its adversaries in West Bengal.