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Archive for March 23rd, 2007

More Horror Stories From Nandigram,

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 23, 2007

CPI(ML) Team In Nandigram: Summary Of Findings

(A 20-member CPI(ML) team comprising Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, West Bengal State Secretary Kartick Pal, senior state leaders Dr. Partha Ghosh, Shankar Mitra, Meena Pal and Chaitali Sen, AISA leader Malay Tewari and editor of the Party’s Bengali weekly organ Deshabrati Animesh Chakraborty visited the carnage-ravaged areas and people of Nandigram on 17 March. They also talked to injured victims undergoing medical treatment at the district hospital at Tamluk and the extremely under-equipped and over-crowded health centre at Nandigram. They heard reports of most horrendous killings of unarmed people, gangrapes and brutal assaults on women and children, met several people who were desperately looking for missing family members and were shocked to see very few young girls and children among the survivors in the carnage-ravaged villages of Bhangabeda, Sonachura and Gokulnagar. What follows is a brief report of the team’s findings).

What really happened at Nandigram on March 14

From the accounts of the injured at the hospital as well as injured residents of the three affected villages – Sonachura, Bhangabera and Gokulnagar, the following facts emerge about the events of March 14.

The villagers were apprehensive of a police crackdown. They wished to be sure not to give the police any pretext to attack. Therefore, feeling that the police would surely not attack defenceless women and children, the latter assembled in the form of separate and adjacent prayer meetings of Hindus and Muslims in the maidan between Gokulnagar and Bhangabera. A huge 5000-strong police force stormed into the area, and began by kicking at the worshippers and destroying their idols and prayer area.

The police then lobbed teargas shells and fired rubber bullets – not to disperse a violent or unruly mob, but rather to literally create a smokescreen and confuse the crowd of people. Having done so, the firing began. The bullet wounds on the bodies of the people at hospitals are mostly in the waist, chest, back – bullets were cold-bloodedly aimed to kill. Local CPI(M) leaders oversaw the entire operation, and many villagers recounted how several of those in police uniform and helmets wore chappals on their feet, indicating that they were actually CPI(M) goons in uniform.

A particularly brutal feature of the attack is the aspect of sexual assault on women and massacre of children. Women have recounted having seen little children being torn apart. They said many children were still in school uniform, having just returned from morning schools, and were brutally assaulted. A large number of children are still missing; it is not clear whether they have run away, been abducted, or been killed and the bodies disposed off. The local people suspect that the missing children have been killed.

The people informed us that the horror did not end on March 14. Our team visited on March 17, and we were told that on 15th, 16th, and right up to the morning of the 17th, the assaults by CPI(M) goons continued.

Evidence from the Hospitals

The team felt the accounts gathered from the injured in hospitals were the most authentic, since those people had beyond doubt been at the spot and had directly witnessed the episode. We saw a broken ambulance lying in a pond. TV footage showed police beating up a woman who was trying to pick up a severely injured and unconscious person. It appears that systematic efforts were made to prevent the injured from getting help.

Members of the team visited Nandigram Health Centre (the nearest health centre), Tamluk Hospital, and SSKM Hospital, Kolkata.


At Tamluk Hospital, we spoke to Sankha Gole (47), Laxmikanta Gayen (26), Niranjan Das (38), Subhransu Partra (30), Gopal Das (32), Anjali Das, Nirmal Mondal (28) and others. Some of the patients had been shifted from here to Kolkata, but there were still others who had been referred to Kolkata and were yet to be taken there for treatment.

We spoke to the CMO at Tamluk hospital, who along with the other doctors and nurses seemed to be doing their utmost, but the sheer lack of medical facilities for the severely injured made their task difficult.


At Nandigram Health Centre, we spoke to Gobinda Paik (37) from Sonachura, Sreehari Samanta (26) from Kalicharanpur, Pranati Maity (50) from Keshabpur, and Ranadhir Galu (40) from Soudkhali. This Health Centre has paltry facilities, and just 30 beds, while even on the 17th, there were at least double the number of patients, with most lying on the ground.

SSKM Hospital Here we spoke to Swarnai Das (40) from Gokulnagar, Avijit Giri (22) from Kalicharanpur, Swapan Giri (21) from Sonachura No. 10, Parijit Maity (51) from Kalicharanpur, Haimanti Halder (50), Tapasi Das, Salil Das, Andhirani, Prithish Das, Banasri Acharya, and others.

We learnt that at Tamluk, 14 dead bodies were brought in on 16th March (12 male, 2 female). Another person died in hospital. Among the injured brought to hospital, 31 were male, and 14 female. 7 dead bodies are yet to be identified. At the Nandigran hospital, 65 injured were brought in, (32 male and 33 female). Both these hospitals are understaffed, there is no sweeper, only two ambulances. Life saving drugs not available and are locally purchased on an ad-hoc basis. The injuries of those in hospital and the reports of the state of the dead bodies tell their own tale. Many had bullet injuries – above the waist, in the chest, abdomen, frontal side of shoulder. In Tamluk hospital there were 2 rape victims – Gouri Pradhan (25), of Adhikary Para of Gokulnagar and Kajal Majhi (35), mother of 4 children, of Kalicharanpur. One of the latter’s breasts had been lacerated by a chopper/sword. Swarnamai, in Woodburn ward in SSKM, had severe bullet injuries, while Haimanti had a buttock chopped off and was in the ITU. Such injuries were not merely the result of having been unluckily in the line of police firing – they were deliberate and savage assaults of a sexual nature.

The women we spoke to alleged that 6 other rape victims were not thoroughly examined due to pressure from above. Also that the uterus of one woman was ruptured by introducing a hard metallic rod.

The injured people we met did not speak of themselves – their injuries or chances of survival or lack of proper treatment; they all spoke of how they looked forward to continuing their struggle against eviction from the land.

Calculated Savagery

The sheer savagery of the violence at Nandigram indicate that it was not just another case of unprovoked police firing, or of a police force gone berserk. The injuries inflicted on people (indicated by the state of the dead bodies as well as the survivors) are not mere bullet injuries. We have described above some of the chopper injuries on those in hospitals. A television cameraperson who had seen the mutilated and brutalised dead bodies in the morgue, said he had seen bodies of victims in bad rail accidents and fires – but had never seen bodies in such a disfigured, disemboweled condition as in Nandigram.

CPI(M)’s Complicity

The people at the hospitals as well as in the three affected villages told us they recognised CPI(M) leaders who directed the entire operation –Lakshman Seth, MP and chairman of the Haldia Development Corporation, CPI(M) district leaders and panchayat functionaries like Ashok Guria, Ashok Bera, Debal Das, and Sureshwar Khatua. These leaders also ensured that almost no media reached Nandigram – several newspapers reported how their reporters and camera persons were roughed up by the CPI(M) goons.

CBI’s findings as reported in several newspapers, also seem to corroborate the allegations of the villagers and eyewitnesses. The CBI team followed a trail of blood, which suggested that a bleeding body had been dragged some distance to the Ma Janani brick kiln in Khejuri, a CPI(M) stronghold. There the CBI sleuths came across CPI(M) and DYFI literature, party flags and clothes including women’s underclothes.

The CPI(M) goons arrested by CBI in this brick kiln include Naru Maity, Rajkumar Jana, Manoranjan Maity, Ratikanta Maity, Sachin Pramanik, Abhishek Ghorui, Kanai Das, Panchanan Sasmal. Villagers allege that they were hired by Laxman Seth and others, for two lakh rupees each for Operation Nandigram. A huge cache of arms and ammunitions were recovered from them, and also CPI(M) leaflets and flags, mobile sets with phone numbers of local CPI(M) leaders were also recovered from them by the CBI.

The myth of extremist ‘outsiders’

The CPI(M)’s official response has been to blame ‘outsiders’, ‘naxals’ and the like for indulging in ‘lawlessness’, and even attacking the police with bombs and pipe guns – thus justifying the need for the police action. What truth is there in these accusations and claims? A simple question which needs to be posed against these claims is: how come no police personnel is seriously injured, if they were actually subjected to an extremist assault by a huge mob? CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury has said that SEZs and land acquisition had nothing to do with the occurrence at Nandigram; ‘outsiders’ and ‘extremists’, frustrated by their inability to mobilise local support, indulged in violence against the police. Our observation was quite the contrary. Nandigram is a traditional CPI-CPI(M) stronghold, an old area of Tebhaga peasant struggle. The local MP is from CPI(M), MLA from CPI, and most panchayat members are from CPI(M). The only reason why this very mass base suddenly turnedagainst CPI(M) was the proposed land acquisition for the proposed SEZ to built up by Indonesian MNC Salem International.

It was precisely because Nandigram was emerging as a model for anti-SEZ, anti-corporate- land grab resistance that it invited such horrible repression. It had become a sore spot and a source of concern and anxiety, not just for local CPI(M) leaders or the LF Government, but for all Governments all over the country.

The Build-up to March 14

March 14 has not happened all of a sudden – it is not a mistake that the LF Government or the CPI(M) has committed on the spur of the moment. The events of January in Nandigram were a dress rehearsal for March – in which the patterns for the March assault can be discerned. In January, the police withdrew in the name of allowing ‘peace’ to be restored; while actually they were clearing the way for a planned assault by CPI(M) cadres from Khejuri. Then, there were systematic attempts to stop facts from reaching the public: the CPI(ML) fact-finding team was arrested before they could enter Nandigram, jailed and had charges of murder and illegal possession of arms slapped on them.

Then, the CM appeared to backtrack in the face of the determined resistance, and claimed the HDA notification of land acquisition was a ‘mistake’ that caused ‘confusion’. He made reassurances that no land would be acquired without farmers’ consent. But it seems that these statements were only meant to deliberately mislead the movement and people at large, even as ‘Operation Nandigram’ was being planned all the while.

Since January, the statements of senior CPI(M) leaders all clearly indicate the ominous threats to the people of Nandigram, and reading them after March 14, they sound like chilling prophecy. CPI(M) CC Member Benoy Konar said “We’ll surround them and make life hell for them”. Health Minister Suryakant Mishra who is from East Midnapore, had declared “Snakes come out in the summer, you must use the flag like a stick and smash their heads” (see Ananda Bazaar Patrika, 31 January). And in the Kisan Rally of 11 March at Brigade Parade Ground, Buddhadeb also issued a veiled threat that no region would be allowed to hold the development of the State to ransom. These statements are as clear an incitement to and indication of violence as one can get.

Post-Carnage Justifications

After March 14, Buddhadeb has made three types of statements. Immediately after the incident, he declared to the CPI State Secretary that he was “under pressure from the party to act”. On the 14th he arrived too late in the Assembly to make a statement. On the 15th, in the Assembly, he justified the police action as “self-defence”. And eventually, he accepted moral responsibility as head of the Government, and said he had not expected so much resistance and not known the police excesses would be quite so much.

What to make of the behaviour of the LF Government and CPI(M) in the aftermath of March 14?

The LF partners have reduced the whole issue to a matter of internal democracy of the Left Front – and have ignored the fact that what took place at Nandigram is a massacre, genocide, murder of democracy. Let us repeat that March 14 was no blunder that happened on the spur of the moment. In January itself, intellectuals and well-wishers of the LF Government and of the CPI(M) had expressed concern about the escalating violence in Nandigram and warned the Government to desist from the policy of forced land acquisition and SEZs. The CPI(M) arrogantly dismissed these voices and did not bother to listen to even the pro-Left intelligentsia, preferring instead to mock at them.

If Buddhadeb says he acted “under pressure from the party”, the statements of the topmost CPI(M) leadership indicate that all levels of the CPI(M) hierarchy have been equally complicit in chalking out the blueprint of Operation Nandigram.


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Nandigram: Horror Stories Emerge, Fact finding report of the delegation deputed by the Calcutta High Court

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 23, 2007

Report of the team who went to Nandigram in the district of Purba Medinipore in terms of the order of the Hon’ble High Court dated 15.03.2007 passed by the Hon’ble Division Bench comprised of Mr. S.S. Nijjar, Chief Justice and the Hon’ble Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh in a writ petition filed by the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and Paschim Banga Khet Majdoor Samity.

1. That soon after getting a plain copy of the order of the Hon’ble High Court a team consisting of the following persons proceeded towards Nandigram from the High Court.

i) Sri Amit Dyuti Kumar, representing the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights;

ii) Sri Prasad Roychowdhury, Secretary, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights;

iii) Dr. (Mrs.) Subabrata Bhadra, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights;

iv) Sri Raghu, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights;

v) Smt. Anurada Talwar, representing Paschim Banga Kheth Majdoor Samity;

vi) Sri Jeeban, – do –

vii) Ms. Panchali Roy – do –

viii) Sri Sandeep -do-

ix) Sri Chiro -do-

x) Sri Pramod -do-

xi) Sri Gangyly,

xii) Sri Sadhan Roychowdhury, representing Manabidhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM);

12. Sri Subrata Roy, representing Manabidhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM);

13. Sri Arjun Das , representing MASUM

xv) Bibek Tripathy, Advocate, High Court , Calcutta

2) At about 8 PM on 15.03.2007 a team went to the office of the District Magistrate, Purba Medinipore where Mr. Anup Agarwal, District Magistrate, Purba Medinipore was present. The team expressed their strong will and desire to go to Nandigram and sought for security escort or necessary police protection to enable the team to proceed for Nandigram immediately.

3) The District Magistrate, Purba Medinipore, however, flatly refused to entertain any such request for rendering police protection to the team on various counts or grounds saying that the District Magistrate, Purba Medinipore is not a party in the writ petition and that the said District Magistrate, Purba Medinipore has no legal or moral obligation to entertain any of the requests on the subject. Then the District Magistrate, Purba Medinipore advised the members of the team not to go to Nandigram on the ground that seeing the members of the team the people of Nandigram may be charged thereby there will be apprehension of breach of law and order.

4) All persuasions made by the team for allowing the members of the team to go to Nandigram failed.

5) At about 8.30 PM the team went to the office of the Superintendent of Police, Purba Medinipore but in the said office of the Superintendent of Police, Purba Medinipore no one was present. The night guard also could not provide the team with any information as to where the Superintendent of Police, Purba Medinipore will be available or telephone number either of the office or residence of the Superintendent of Police, Purba Medinipore. Mrs. Anurada Talwar from her own sources after making several calls could get mobile phone number of the Superintendent of Police, Purba Medinipore and tried for several occasions to talk to the said Superintendent of Police, Purba Medinipore but the said Superintendent of Police, Purba Medinipore did not pick up the telephone on any occasion.

6) Then the team proceeded for Tamluk Sub-Divisional Hospital. The team could get the following informations from the hospital –

i) All together 36 persons both male and female were admitted with bullet injuries, head injuries and different types of other severe injuries. Four police personnel were also admitted in the hospital but in the said hospital record there is no mention as to the nature of injury allegedly suffered by such police personnel. From records it could be ascertained that few patients have been referred to the PG hospital and 4 police personnel have been referred to Nilratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital. The members of the team then were allowed by the hospital authorities to talk to the patients and a few numbers od the tem entered into the ward where the victims of the incident narrated the entire episode as to how and in what manner such persons were subjected to indiscriminate, reckless firing committed by both police personnel and the goons of the rulling political party.

ii) Then the team could ascertain that several bodies have been brought dead in the hospital and such bodies have been kept in the morgue. Some bodies have been claimed by the relatives but there were still some bodies which were not claimed by the members of family of the deceased victims. In the Sub-Divisional hospital the team could find that a CBI team headed by Sri B.B. Misra, Joint Director of CBI, already arrived there to conduct investigation in terms of the order of the Hon’ble High Court. Then the team at about 00.30 AM left the Tamluk Sub-Divisional Hospital and then stayed at Tamluk at night. In the morning on 16.03.2007 the team preceded for Chandipur Police Station.At about 8.00 AM the team could reach the Chandipur Police Station where the team could meet Mr. Kalyan Banerjee, Additional Superintendent of Police in Charge, Purba Medinipore. The said Additional Superintendent of Police in Charge in a diplomatic way told the team that being a police official the said Additional Superintendent of Police in Charge should not say that the team should not go to Nandigram in violation to the Constitutional guarantee but the said Additional Superintendent of Police in Charge advised the team not to go to Nandigram in the same and similar tune and version of the District Magistrate, Purba Medinipore. The said Additional Superintendent of Police did not receive the copy of the order of the Hon”ble High Court on the alleged ground that the said Additional Superintendent of Police is not a party to the writ petition. The team told the Additional Superintendent of Police that the team will convey the decision of the team after sometimes and accordingly after about 45 minutes the team intimated the said Additional Superintendent of Police in Charge that the team has taken a decision to go to Nandigram. After communicating the decision of the team to go for Nandigram at about 10 AM the team started for Nandigram and could reach at Nandigram Hospital at about 10.45 AM.

iii) In the hospital at Nandigram which is a Primary Health Centre the team could ascertain that all together 69 persons (male, female and children) have been admitted in the said hospital. Several cases of bullet injuries and various other injuries due to blasting of tear gas shell and hand made bombs have been recorded in the record. A few cases of rape by the police personnel and other persons have also been reported by the victims to the hospital.

iv) The team could find that the hospital do not have any facility for rendering treatment to the victims. The members of the victim family were waiting outside the hospital are all trauma stricken. A deep sense of frustration was prevailing in the entire hospital compound at Nandigram. The patients have not been provided with food and minimum medicines which they require. There is no ambulance in the hospital and one ambulance provided by some NGO is not functioning properly. The Block Medical Officer of Health admitted that thre is an acute problem for transportation of the victims to Tamluk due to shortage of ambuance and vehicles.

7) At about 2.30 PM the team proceeded for Sonachura which place is situated at about 20 Kms. from Nandigram Hospital. On their way to Sonachura the team could find thousands of persons were sitting on the road or assembling jointly in some areas.Upon seeing the team reaching the area all the villagers started narrating their story as to how and in what manner the poor villagers have been subjected to torture by the police and the murderers of the ruling political party. The nature of allegations made by the villagers is as follows:

i) On 14.03.2007 the villagers assembled near Bhangabera which is a bridge connecting Nandigram and Khejuri. At Bhangabera. the villagers of both the communities were offering prayers to God and the gathering for offering prayers to the God were comprising of women and children mostly. All on a sudden the police personnel without any notice to the villagers proceeded towards the the villagers offering prayers and without any notice started indiscriminate firing of rubber bullets, killing bullets and tear gas. Several persons were killed at the spot by such indiscriminate police firing. Just after opening of the fire of the police upon the gathering the villagers were trying to escape to a secured place and such villagers were surrounded by the murderers of the local political party who were also in uniform but sandle in their feet and fully armed with local made arms and ammunitions. Children were murdered indiscriminately; bodies have been thrown to nearby Chuniburi river. The children of Primary Schools at least 8 in numbers have been killed by the murderers and then all those children were buried in a particular place near Bhangabera area.

The police and hooligans then ransacked the huts of the villagers, indiscriminately fired the residential huts of the villagers and captured upto the village Sonachura and the adjoining villages. The team could find that a good number of persons who have received various kinds of injuries including bullet injuries not less than 100 in numbers, receiving such bullet injuries are in their respective huts in their village. Such persons could not dare to go to hospital because of threats perpetrated by police and the murderers of the political party. A good number of women have complained that they have been raped, sexually abused and molested by police personnel and the murderers of the political party. The team could ascertain a good number of persons not less than 60 in numbers still remain untraced. The exact figure as to the particulars of the untraced persons could not be ascertained because villagers of some villages could not return to their home so as to ascertain as to how many members of persons are remaining untraced. The team could ascertain that the CBI team reached Bangabhera for the purpose of investigation. The team could not ascertain the exact numbers of victims of killing, rape, injured and untraced.

ii) The team returned to Nandigram Hospital at about 8.00 PM to start for Kolkata.
This brief report is supported by the statements made by the victims recorded by the members of the team personally and also the video clippings and footage.

8) Observation of the team from the trend of statements made by the victims of the incident and the villagers in general.

i) The people of Nandigram have been subjected to torture by the police and the political hooligans in a concerted way;

ii) The villagers, the police have started operation at the first instance for mass killing and the job has been completed by the murderers of the political parties. The peaceful movement of the people of Nandigram to oppose acquisition of land and/or for establishing Special Economic Zone by the State Government under the approved scheme of the Central Government has been sought to be broken and/or demolished by the ruling political party in aid and abatement of the police and the local administration.

iii) A good number of persons have been killed in the action. The exact number of the dead persons, untraced persons, victims of rape and the persons who have been severely injured could not yet been finalized because the villagers of Adhikari Para, Sonachura and the adjoining villages could not return to their respective huts as yet.

iv) The administration have shown their total callousness in securing minimum force for providing medical assistance and for building up confidence upon the people of Nandigram.

vi) The indefinite attitude of the District Magistrate, Purba Medinipore, Superintendent of Police, Purba Medinipore and the other functionaries of the Purba Medinipore administration clearly suggest that those officials have had their definite knowledge and participation in the whole operation of causing indiscriminate firing upon the people of Nandigram.

vii) There is no presence of administration at Nandigram either through the District Magistrate, Purba Medinipore, Superintendent of Police, Purba Medinipore or the other administrative persons.

viii) The dignatories indicated in the order of the Hon’ble High Court to the best of the information received by the team include Mr. Lakhman Seth, the Member of Parliament who is personally responsible for the incident of this mass killing. Informations have collected by the team to the effect that Lakhman Seth deployed professional murderers to commit murders of the villagers at Nandigram and that police started the operation but the rest of the operation has been conducted by the professional murderers engaged and deputed by Lakhman Seth, M.P. and the functionaries of Haldia Development authority and the local CPIM murderers at Haldia.

ix) CBI team conducting investigation may not be successful in unearthing each and every incident of murder, kidnapping, rape and other various kinds of offences in its meticulous details because that CBI team do not have sufficient and adequate expert officials of the CBI and the team constituted by CBI is a skeleton team and is too inadequate to conduct investigation over the incident at Nandigram occurred on 14.03.2007.

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After Kolkata, Now the Kerala Surrender

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 23, 2007

CPI(M)’s Kerala ADB Loan:

– V Shankar

There has always been much talk of the struggle between Kerala line vs Bengal line in the Communist Party of India (Marxist). This time we have, not a struggle between Kerala vs Bengal but a controversy between the active pro-liberalisation ‘young turks’ and the conventional, passive pro-liberalisation old guards in the CPI(M).

After a period of lull following the factional reconciliation over the choice of VS Achuthanandan as Kerala’s new CPM Chief Minister, the rift between the Achuthanandan and Vijayan factions has again started growing.

Pinarayi Vijayan, Politburo member and state secretary of the CPI(M) has earned the dubious distinction of perhaps being the first ever Politburo member of a Communist Party facing a CBI enquiry for corruption charges in the history of the Communist movement in the country. A recent Kerala High Court judgement has ordered a CBI enquiry into the SNC Lavalin scandal; in which Pinarayi Vijayan stands accused of having taken kickbacks to favour Lavalin over others offering a better deal, during his tenure as Power Minister in the previous LDF regime in the state. VS, who had campaigned hard against Coca Cola and ADB loan during the Assembly election last summer, now finds himself in the unenviable position of defending a huge $222.2 million (Rs. 995 crore) loan agreement his government has signed for the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDB) with the same ADB.

VS and his supporters claim that the agreement has been signed behind VS’ back on behalf of his government with the connivance of the Vijayan faction. This has resulted in an open rupture in the CPI(M) with VS supporters clashing with Vijayan supporters in VS’ native district, and even organizing a signature campaign against Vijayan – an act that amounts to indiscipline in the party. Finally, the Central Committee had to intervene to restore a semblance of unity by forming a 5-member advisory committee comprising the LDF convener as well, which is supposed to meet every week to iron out differences in running the Government. Prakash Karat has also admitted that contrary to the claims of the Vijayan faction and Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, VS was indeed kept in the dark!

In West Bengal, the Haldia Development Authority issues a land acquisition notice that takes a toll of more than half a dozen lives. The Chief Minister and all senior Party leaders first deny that such a notice was at all issued and then Buddhadeb says it was a blunder and that he has asked the district administration to ‘tear up that piece of paper’! In Kerala a loan agreement is signed with the ADB and the Chief Minister claims he did not know about it! Who is the CPI(M) trying to befool? And if indeed these claims of ‘ignorance’ are true what has happened to the tenets of collective functioning within the CPI(M)? Or will the CPI(M) now agree that MNCs, big corporate houses and international financial institutions have developed their own lobbies within CPI(M)-led governments?

No matter whether VS was in the dark or not, the ADB loan has major adverse implications for the nature of governance and social sector spending in Kerala. Prakash Karat says that the party is not against taking loan from any bank in principle, including ADB, as long as Structural Adjustment strings are not attached. The fact is that no loan or aid from such international institutions comes without direct or indirect conditionalities, but the CPI(M) naturally needs to keep alive a fiction to the contrary. ADB loans in particular are known to carry conditionalities like increased private participation, privatisation and commercialisation of public utilities, creation of a flexible labour force, etc. Finance Minister Thomas Isaac is however thrilled that the ADB conditionalities in case of the KSUDB loan are less harsh than in the case of the Kolkata Environmental Projects!

The Bank, according to Isaac, has ‘conceded’ that user charges for water will be levied from municipalities instead of individual consumers in the beginning. This is certainly not a guarantee that user charges will not be directly levied on individual users ever. Even otherwise, it does not carry any meaning because the municipalities will levy the very same user charges on the very same people in any case. How else can the municipality or the state government raise funds to repay the loan?

The first blow of the loan conditions will be in the form of liberalizing the control of Kerala Water Authority (KWA). The process of redefining the role of KWA into an enabling regulatory framework and agency to facilitate private sector participation has already begun. The role of KWA will in future be only to ‘regulate’ the private players in their search for profit and loot of public resources like water.

The loan is also an attack on the autonomy of the state and the municipal corporations (the loan initially targets the five corporations of Kochi, Kollam, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur) that will not be allowed to prioritise their annual budgets and revenue mobilization according to their own political and economic considerations. Rather, these will be dictated by the ADB in the interests of private players and multinational corporations. Moreover, ‘consultants’ will have to be appointed – chosen not by the State but by the Bank – at a cost of $10.2 million (Rs 46 crore). The state also loses its right to have bilateral negotiations with other financial agencies.

Most importantly, the tariff and taxes will have to be increased and fixed according to the directive of the ADB. Even the people below poverty line (BPL) will not be spared. All existing street taps will now be metered with no budget for new installations.

By all indications, the fabled Kerala model of development is now giving way to ADB-driven governance. This would mean, among other things, a serious drop in social spending and greater commercialisation of critical sectors like education, health and hygiene. Ironically, the undoing of the ‘Kerala model’ gathers momentum at a time when renowned economist Prabhat Patnaik, who has been the biggest proponent of the Kerala model calling it the greatest marvel of Marxist theory and practice in India, happens to be the chairperson of the state planning board.

On December 28, 2006 more thgan 100 organisations joined hands to form the People’s Forum against ADB (PFADB) and press for annulment of the KSUDP loan. The PFADB has pointed out ADB’s dismal record in urban development as borne out in two previous ADB projects in Karnataka. It has also pointed to various possibilities of internal resource mobilisation in Kerala including tapping the state’s vast reserve of foreign exchange remittances from Keralites working abroad. CPI-ML

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Nandigram rape: CPM man owns up

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 23, 2007

The Statesman (Wednesday, 21 March 2007 )
Nandigram rape: CPM man owns up

Joydeep Thakur

NANDIGRAM, March 20: Villagers have been looking for some people who came in on 14 March disguised as policemen to rape and murder women. They chanced upon Sahadev Pramanick (30), who had raped at least two women.

The CPI-M activist from Gangra, Sonachura, left the village after the first spell of violence in January and sought refuge in a party camp at Khejuri. Last evening, whilst trying to sneak into Sonachura along with four accomplices, he found himself captured. Pramanick admitted to two rapes, including that of a 13-year-old girl. “

At least 17 girls were raped inside a deserted house near Bhangabera on 14 March when police opened fire near a bridge. The victims were dragged into the house of Shankar Samanta by CPI-M cadres,”

CBI officials have visited it, collecting pieces of torn cloth, bangles and undergarments. It was also stained with blood. Villagers had heard women forced into the house cry out in agony but there were CPI-M goons guarding it. Haldia’s sub-divisional police officer, Mr Swapan Saha, said if the CBI wanted Pramanick for interrogation, he would be handed over to it.

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CPI-M office vandalised in Bengal

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 23, 2007

Kolkata, March 22 (IANS) Attacks on the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M) premises are continuing in the aftermath of the Nandigram killings with some miscreants damaging a party office in Murshidabad district.

The hand of Maoist guerrillas is suspected in Wednesday night’s attack at the CPI-M office in Nawada in Murshidabad, about 250 km north of here, with the reported recovery of posters of a rebel group.

However, Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS: “We are looking for the miscreants behind the attack but we are not saying they were Maoists right now.”

“The office of the CPI-M was damaged and there was an attempt to set it on fire,” Kanojia said adding: “No one was injured.”

Some reports said one of the attackers was a woman and the posters left at the spot belonged to Maoists.

CPI-M cadres in Murshidabad allege that Congress men were behind the attack. The district is a stronghold of the Congress.

Tension prevails in the area.

After a brief lull, Nandigram witnessed fresh tension Wednesday as Trinamool Congress supporters ransacked an office of the CPI-M at Tekkhali after bombs were allegedly hurled on a procession taken out by the former.

Things came to a boil in West Bengal’s Nandigram area a week ago when 14 people were killed in police firing while protesting the acquisition of farm land for a special economic zone. Indian Muslim Info

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