Saturday, February 9, 2008

State Terror in Nandigram is an Affront to All the People of India

(Statement issued by the Association of Indian Progressive Study Groups (AIPSG) in the wake of state organized attacks on innocent people in Nandigram, West Bengal)

New York, Nov 30, 2007

The AIPSG condemns the unconscionable attacks in Nandigram earlier this month by the party activists of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) aided and abetted by the security forces of West Bengal. The unprovoked attack in the midst of the annual Kalipuja festival led to the uprooting of thousands of families from their homes, and left a number of innocent men, women and children dead or injured. To this date, neither the Manmohan Singh government at the center nor the left-front government in the state has taken any steps towards investigation, justice and rehabilitation.

The calculated terror was directed against the peasant masses that, for better part of this year, have been resisting the forcible acquisition of their land by the West Bengal state government. Last December, the government had indicated that 15,000 acres of land in Nandigram would be converted into a chemical hub and handed over to the Indonesian conglomerate, Salim Group of Industries. The events in Nandigram come in the midst of widespread land acquisition drives by the West Bengal government for the purpose of creating special economic zones (SEZ) in several parts of the state.

The state violence and terror in Nandigram is the latest manifestation of the longstanding policy of the Indian State to resort to state terrorism – from draconian laws, organized massacres, and military occupations - to liquidate the resistance of people. The aim of state terror since the 1991 launch of the liberalization and privatization programs has been to break the resistance struggles against the sale of public assets to private businesses, cutbacks in social spending, retrogressive WTO trade rules, ruination of small traders, and land acquisition for SEZ.

The experience of last 16 years has made it clear that the privatization and liberalization policies of successive governments have not worked in the favor of people. India today is home to the largest number of deprived and dispossessed people on a per capita basis. As the reform program has gotten more discredited in the eyes of the people, and as their resistance struggles have gathered steam, the authorities have resorted again and again to the time-tested methods of terror and violence. The recent killings in Singur, Nandigram, Kalinganagar, Earasama are not some aberrations but symptomatic of the desperation of a political system that is unable to convince people that the reform programs are in their interest. In the face of the Nandigram experience, no body can afford to have an illusion that the CPI(M) or the left-front government in West Bengal stands either against state terror or against neo-liberal globalization.

People all over India are looking for alternatives to the neo-liberal offensive and the vision of Manmohan Singh, Abdul Kalam, Atal Vajpayee and others to make India into an imperial global power on the backs of people of India. Rejection of state terror, irrespective of the pretexts used to justify it, is one key ingredient of the alternative. Repudiation of the liberalization-privatization agenda is another. However, despite its claims of being pro-people and anti-imperial, the record of the “secular left alternative” today shows that it has repudiated neither. The same is true for the entire establishment comprising of the Indian State. Nandigram is a sobering reminder that people of India cannot count on those holding power today at the state and central governments to defeat neo-liberal policies.

People have a right to wage their resistance struggle against neo-liberal reforms that threaten their right to livelihood and security. They have the right to demand from the government and the state that those guilty of crimes against the people, irrespective of their positions, party affiliations, ideologies and power, are brought to justice and the victims are compensated and rehabilitated! Ideologies aside, the call of history is to defeat neo-liberal capitalist offensive on the collective and individual rights of the people all over the world. It is not a “left”, “right” or “center” issue, but an issue of profound significance for the realization of rights of the people. The AIPSG calls upon everybody to take a stand!