Wednesday, November 21, 2007

People being forced to join CPI(M)

In season of harvest, CPM reaps apology

Gokulnagar (Nandigram), Nov. 20: In Nandigram, the price of harvest is repentance in black and white.

More than 400 villagers owing allegiance to the Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee have handed in letters of apology to the CPM farmers’ wing and requested permission to return to harvest their standing paddy crop.

The harvest season began a week ago and will continue till mid-December.

All India Krishak Sabha leaders knew farmers who had fled during the CPM’s recapture of Nandigram would be desperate to return and cashed in on the urgency.

“The Krishak Sabha drew up a list of active BUPC members and held a meeting. This was before the CRPF marched in. Booth-level CPM leaders decided we would have to give the undertaking before they allowed us in to harvest. We had to give in,” said a farmer from Gokulnagar, who owns over three bighas.

The school dropout could not write the letter himself, so he got it drafted by Ajit Khatua, a literate man he knew.

“I submitted it to Bharat Nayek, our local Krishak Sabha leader. I was also forced to give in writing that I would turn up for their processions, carry the party flag and even be on night vigil to ward off any possible attacks on us in the future,” the farmer said.

Most villagers had to give a similar undertaking.

Khatua, who wrote over a dozen letters for unlettered farmers, said each villager holds three to four bighas on average. With the high-yielding variety of seeds, a farmer can expect around 30 to 35 mon of yield per bigha. “A bag of 1.5 mon rice would sell for at least Rs 380. So it works out to around Rs 7,500 per bigha.”

BUPC members across Garchakraberia, Simulkunda, Kanungochowk, Jambari and Brindabanchowk have written apology letters to the Krishak Sabha’s village units.

Most letters were handed in before the CRPF arrived on November 13.

The CPM, however, denied forcing the farmers to apologise. “No such letters have been taken from anyone. These are all allegations aimed at maligning us,” said Himanshu Das, a Krishak Sabha district committee member and secretary of the CPM’s Khejuri zonal committee.