Thursday, June 11, 2009

Singur: Amnesty raps state govt

The Statesman

Rajib Chatterjee
KOLKATA, 8 JUNE: The Nano project moved out of West Bengal eight months ago, but the Left Front government and the CPI-M continue to incur the wrath of international organisations for the manner in which land for the project was acquired and protests by agitating farmers were suppressed by police.
This time, the state government's procedure of land acquisition and subsequent police action against farmers spearheading the movement to reoccupy their agricultural plots have been severely criticised by human rights body Amnesty International (AI) which released its annual report recently.
The 2009 report said the “ruling party” had “violently” suppressed the protest of farmers and police failed to protect them. In the report, the AI has condemned the “forced eviction” of farmers from their farmlands in Singur.
The AI has clearly mentioned in its report that land was acquired for the Singur project without taking the consent of most of the farmers who owned it. In a veiled criticism of the West Bengal government and the ruling party, the human rights body has stated in its report that police authorities resorted to “baton charging” on “peaceful protestors” and detained many of them “without charge”.
Indirectly criticising the CPI-M, the AI stated in its report: “Police had failed to protect protesters when private militias, reportedly allied with ruling political parties, violently suppressed the protests. Authorities did not carry out timely or impartial inquiries into several of these incidents.”
The report further reads: “Local community protests continued over land acquisition and forced evictions. In some cases, police responded by baton-charging peaceful protesters and detaining them without charge for up to one week.”
The report also reads: “At least 30 people were injured in a six-month-long protests by farmers and Opposition parties in Singur. Subsequent negotiations between the protesters the state authorities failed, forcing the project to relocate to Gujarat.”