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Archive for December 13th, 2007

The Other Side of India’s boom:1000 Conflicts Now

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

There are two booms in India. With over 9% growth rate so far in 2007, India’s economy is booming. India’s other boom is in conflict. Instead of attempting to address the root causes of these conflicts, the State’s tactics to deal with local conflicts are making things worse.

In combating insurgency the State has not advanced much beyond the tactics of the British Empire. The response is based on the idea of “divide and rule”: pitting one local group against another. The use of the vigilante groups has been traditionally limited to insurgency affected areas. But it is clear that the State has now extended these policies to counter protests against forcible land acquisitions that fuel India’s industrialization.

I. State sponsoring conflicts to suppress protests against land acquisitions

Across India, social movements of the dispossessed and displaced face harassment, intimidation and violence. As the poor get left out of the benefits of India’s extraordinary development, protests against development projects have turned into mass-movements. While the companies usually start by seeking to provide inducements, in most cases the offers have been inadequate. Then the State, often with the militant cadres of the ruling party and backed by the security forces, seeks to resolve the conflicts with brutal force.

a. Nandigram – State supporting the CPI-M violence

Nandigram of West Bengal has become synonymous of the conflicts with the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) that provide attractive economic packages such as fiscal sops, tax concession, exemptions from environmental clearance to companies setting up factories and businesses. Across India, a total of 404 SEZs have been formally approved and 165 have been approved in principle under the SEZ Act of 2005.[1] As of 30 th November 2007, a total of 172 SEZs have been notified and therefore started functioning.

Nandigram – identified by Salem group of Indonesia for establishment of its Chemical factories – has turned into a battle gound between armed cadres of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the anti-land acquisition Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (Land Eviction Resistance Committee, BUPC), made up of poor people who do not want to sell their lands, and are allegedly backed by the opposition Trinamool Congress. Gross human rights violations have been committed with absolute impunity as the State government either perpetrated or remained complicit with the violence of the ruling party cadres.

On 14 March 2007, 14 BUPC protesters were shot dead by the State police. An inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation was ordered. On 16 November 2007, the Calcutta High Court declared the police killings as “unconstitutional”, unjustified” and awarded compensations of Rs 500,000 (US$ 12,690) each to those killed, Rs 200,000 (US$ 5,076) to each of the rape victims and Rs 100,000 (US$ 2,538) to each injured person.[2] The State government has since challenged the order before the Supreme Court.

On 28 March 2007, the chemical hub project at Nandigram was declared abandoned by West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee[3]. But conflict continued.

As the CPI-M cadres “recaptured” the areas in Nandigram from 6 November 2007, [4] an unknown number of supporters of the BUPC were killed, women raped and displaced from their homes. Shockingly West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee justified the actions of the CPI-M cadres saying that the victims were “paid back in the same coin”.[5] Given the view of the head of the State government it is hardly surprising that West Bengal Police did nothing to prevent the violence. With much reluctance, the Central security forces were called but the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel who are required to operate under the command of the State Police allegedly did not receive instructions and support from the local police to bring the situation under control.

On 5th December 2007, the CRPF personnel dug up five graves at Bamanchak village. On 10 December 2007, the CRPF personnel found another grave at Parulia village in Nandigram. Many other burial sites remain undiscovered. [6]

b. Orissa government’s role for violence against protestors against the POSCO Steel Plant

On 22 June 2005, the government of Orissa signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korean Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) to set up a steel plant at Paradeep in Jagatsinghpur district. The investment of $12 billion represents the largest ever foreign direct investment in India. The project will displace around 4,000 indigenous/tribal families.[7]

Local indigenous/tribal peoples have come together under POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (Committee for Resistance Against POSCO) to oppose the POSCO steel plant. The state has responded with violence against those opposing the plant.

On 29 November 2007, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti activists were attacked by supporters of the steel project in Balitutha in Jagatsinghpur district.[8] The attackers hurled crude bombs at the protesters, 15 members of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti were injured and their tents burnt down.[9] Instead of taking action against the attackers, the State government deployed large number of armed policemen around Dhinkia village, the headquarters of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.[10]

As we upload this issue of ACHR Weekly Review, the villagers of Dhinkia are effectively being detained in their homes. All three exits are being manned by pro- POSCO activists along with the state armed police.[11] About 13 platoons of armed forces have been deployed in the three gram panchayats (Village Councils) under Ersama block in Jagatsinghpur. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits assembly of more than five persons, have been imposed.[12]

c. Taking over the lands allotted to the Adivasis in Munnar of Kerala

The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxists) cadres in Munnar of Kerala have been forcibly taking over lands earmarked for distribution to Adivasis, indigenous peoples. In 2003, following the killings of the Adivasi protestors at Muthanga, the State government allotted an acre of land each in Chinnakanal to more than 700 tribal families. However even after four years, only 540 families have received land. Some 200 tribal families have built makeshift huts on the government land in Munnar in protest.[13]

But on 26 November 2007, they were attacked by the CPI-M cadres. Over 2,000 CPI-M cadres captured a 1,500-acre stretch of prime government land in Munnar’s Chinnakkanal area and forced the 200 Adivasi families to flee. The CPI-M cadres destroyed the huts of the Adivasis and put up party flags to symbolize their victory. They fenced off the area and began constructing their own huts there. In the evening of 27 November 2007, an all-party meeting was called by the Munnar Additional District Magistrate. The meeting decided that both the CPI-M and Adivasis would move out of the area within 48 hours.[14] But Adivasi leader C P Shaji was attacked by alleged CPI-M cadres after leaving the meeting.[15]

II. Repeal the Land Acquisition Act

At the root of the crisis is the concept of ’eminent domain’ under which State exercises its sovereign power to grab land under a concept of “public purpose” under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894. “Public purpose” under the Land Acquisition Act has increasingly come to mean the State taking over the lands for the benefit of private companies. The land is taken without prior consultation or adequate compensation of the landholders. The government of India has never sought to address the need to amend the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 but instead only sought to address the symptoms – relief and rehabilitation of the displaced persons.

Even the government‘s attempts at relief and rehabilitation have miserably failed. In 2003 the government of India adopted the Relief and Rehabilitation Policy. It failed to address key issues and a draft National Relief and Rehabilitation Policy was issued in 2006. It also failed to address the key concerns. As the conflicts over SEZs and other development projects have further intensified the government has recently issued the 2007 National Relief and Rehabilitation Policy. It fails again, among others, to mention about the need for amendment of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.

Unless the State recognizes the rights of individuals/groups over their lands, protests against acquisition of lands for socalled development purposes will intensify. This requires repeal of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 but the States, instead, respond only with violence.

III. Prevent militia-isation of the civilians

India urgently needs to rethink its approaches to opposition against industrial projects by the land owners. Encouraging formation of politicized militias is not the answer. An untrained, unaccountable and undisciplined militia is only likely to deepen the local conflicts. They are likely, in due course of time, to become a serious security concern for the State. The creation and support of these groups will impact negatively on peaceful reconciliation efforts, since they have the effect of setting neighbours and communities against each other.

Similar experiences from elsewhere are too extremely negative. Civil defence groups like the Patrullas de Audodefensa Civil (Civil Defence Patrols) in Guatemala were responsible for atrocious human rights abuses and contributed to deepening of the conflict. In Colombia, the para-military forces have been encouraged and financed by the State to confront the ultra left wing Fueras Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) with disastrous consequences on human rights and conflict resolution.

As the State governments tend to blame the alleged Naxalites for any protest against land acquisition, India must not increasingly follow the disastrous practices of militia-isation of the civilians as practised across Latin America.

[2]. Firing wholly unjustified: HC, The Statesman, 17 November 2007

[3]. Buddhadeb scraps Nandigram project, Rediff News, 28 March 2007,

[5]. Buddhadeb accuses Centre of delay in CRPF deployment, The Times of India, 13 November 2007

[6]. Grave in Nandigram paddy field, The Times of India, 11 December 2007

[7]. “Atrocities at Singur, India: A matter of rights of the dispossessed”, ACHR Review No. 144/06, Asian Centre for Human Rights

[8]. Opposition to POSCO mounts, The Hindu, 1 December 2007

[9]. Divide over Posco plant turns violent, yet again, The Telegraph, 1 December 2007

[10]. Uneasy calm at POSCO project site, NDTV, 9 December 2007

[11]. Posco protesters held hostage, The Hindustan Times, 10 December 2007

[12]. Patnaik’s dig at Posco ‘peace’, The Telegraph, 10 December 2007

[13]. After CPM men attack activist, tribals refuse to vacate Munnar land, The Indian Express, 29 November 2007

[14]. After Nandigram, red terror in Munnar, The Indian Express, 28 November 2007

[15]. After CPM men attack activist, tribals refuse to vacate Munnar land, The Indian Express, 29 November 2007

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West Bengal:Missing CPM supporters return

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

12 Dec 2007, 0215 hrs IST,TNN

LALGARH: The 53 CPM supporters, who were suspected to have been kidnapped by Maoists at Lalgarh in West Midnapore on Monday evening, returned on Tuesday. They had fled on seeing the armed Maoists approach their bus.

A 15-member Maoist group, which included one woman, attacked the private bus carrying CPM supporters between Narcha and Sijua villages in Lalgarh on Monday evening. The incident took place barely three hours after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee referred to the Maoists as ‘cowards’ at an open session of the CPM district conference at Kalaikunda in West Midnapore. According to police and political leaders, the main aim here was to prove the chief minister wrong.

“They (Maoists) are cowards. They live in jungles and flee to the jungles after committing their deeds,” he had said. The Maoists chose a spot that is just 4 km from Lalgarh police station and 2 km from Kantapahari jungle to prove their bravery, police said.

The 53 people on the bus panicked at the sight of the Maoists and left the vehicle and ran. All of them returned to Lalgarh and Kantapahari on Tuesday morning. Only one, Murali Pal, was injured as he had tried to jump off the bus hurriedly, seeing the Maoists firing at them. Murali was admitted to Binpur-I block primary health centre, where he was interrogated by police.

Kalipada Murmu, one of the passengers, said: “The villagers did not open the doors though we screamed for help. We could not convince them that we were not Maoists. They had heard more than 20 rounds being fired. They panicked and put out the lamps.”

Police recovered four packs of cartridges but no arrests have been made yet. Villagers alleged that the state armed police reached the spot only after an hour.

“It was decided that a force from Lalgarh police station would escort us. I thought I would drive the bus along with three others on the same route and reach Murar safely. But we got delayed as some of the leaders stopped for refreshments. When I saw the Maoists approaching, I stopped and tried to reverse, but a lorry was right behind. The Maoists started shouting “Run, run if you want to live” and fired at the wheels. A bullet hit the oil tank. We jumped out of the bus and ran,” said Paltu Paria, the bus driver.

Sadhan Nandy, who was on the bus, felt the attackers had given the passengers the opportunity to escape. “They could have killed or injured several people,” he said.

Arjun Mondal, the driver of the lorry that was behind the bus, said: “At first, I did not realize what was happening. But then I heard slogans hailing Maoists. I fled along with the bus passengers.”

CPM’s Lalgarh zonal committee secretary Joydev Giri said: “We feared that the Maoists had abducted some partymen as 53 of the 107 went missing. The Maoists just tried to scare us. Earlier, they had threatened us to quit the party and not attend the open session.” On Tuesday, the state armed police force brought an anti-land mine vehicle and blocked the road, causing inconvenience to students on their way to school.

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Maoists invade north Bihar

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

PATNA, Dec. 11: In what is being considered a move by Maoists to get a foothold in north Bihar after they established their “domain” in large parts of south, central and western Bihar, armed extremists raided the house of a panchayat head at Sukki village in Vaishali last night, killing three villagers. The extremists set ablaze two luxury vehicles of the panchayat head who escaped death. The mukhia, Indra Mohan Singh alias Gugul Singh, who has more than 12 cases of kidnapping, extortion and loot lodged against him with various police stations, is alleged to have established a reign of terror and had been challenging the extremists’ might. According to reports, about 80 Maoists, dressed in Army and police fatigues, swooped down on the village. Police said about 150 rounds of ammunition were fired. All the three who died were the mukhiya’s kin. Some others sustained injuries. Reports said the Maoists bade the villagers to stay indoors.

According to reports, many women took part in the operation that lasted for about an hour. Police said the common people were terrorised by the mukhiya. They have, however, launched a combing operation against the Maoists.

On Saturday, the extremists blasted an abandoned three-storeyed police outpost at Mahindbara in Sitamarhi. Maoists have gone on the rampage after a Banka court awarded death sentence to five extremists on 6 December, for killing three policemen two years ago. n SNS

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Paramilitary trooper killed in Chhattisgarh

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

Raipur, Dec 13 – Maoist guerrillas Thursday shot dead a paramilitary trooper in Chhattisgarh’s restive Bijapur district, the police said.Armed guerrillas opened fire on a nine-member Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) patrol near Cherrapalli area, 560 km from here, said the police.

One of the troopers, L. Kishore, received gunshots on head and back and succumbed to his injuries later.After firing over 20 rounds, the insurgents sneaked into nearby forests, the police said. Bijapur and Dantewada are the worst insurgency-hit districts of India.

The insurgents blew up the Vishrampuri police station in a neighbouring Bastar district Wednesday evening after killing three cops.The rebels gunned down 55 policemen this year in March at Rani Bodli village, in what is said to the biggest attack on the police by the Maoists.


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Joint anti-Naxal action more effective than Central Command: DGP

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

MAHARASHTRA Director General of Police Dr P S Pasricha said that joint operations by the police of Naxal-infested states appear to be more effective than having a central unified command to tackle the growing left-wing extremism in the country.

Speaking to mediapersons during a day’s visit to the Second Capital on Wednesday, Dr Pasricha had discussed the special plan to curb the Naxal menace with senior police officials and reviewed the anti-Naxalite operations. “We are preparing a proposal after identifying the Naxal-affected districts to seek some more assistance from the Centre,” he said. He added that state was also recommending to the Centre certain amendments in the existing laws to make a dent in activities of the outlaws. He said that the Maharashtra Police had succeeded in building tremendous pressure on the Naxals in the past two years by arresting their 11 top commanders. Similarly, he said, 122 Naxalites had surrendered under the state’s surrender policy. “We are working with our Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh counterparts in the joint operations against the Naxalites,” he added. He said that last year Gaon Bandi scheme was implemented in 242 villages by encouraging the rural masses to prevent Naxalites’ entry into the villages. “I’ve asked officers concerned to study how to make the scheme more effective,” he added. Dr Pasricha informed that the police were getting vital inputs from Central Intelligence agencies that had helped in conducting joint operations against the Maoists. The state police chief thanked Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy R R Patil for giving an excellent pay package to the police personnel working in the Naxalite infested areas in the state. “If a constable dies in an encounter with the outlaws or in any landmine blast, his wife gets Rs 18.50 lakh under his special insurance policy. Even if he dies, his family gets monthly salary till the date of his retirement besides his financial dues. This has been done to encourage the police personnel fighting the Naxals,” he said. When asked, Dr Pasricha said that the police already had identified some frontal organisations of the Naxalites trying to spread the movement in the urban areas. ” We will initiate appropriate action against them but we won’t disclose out strategies at this moment,” he added.

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Online TV journalist arrested in Hyderabad, accused of being Maoist courier

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

Reporters Without Borders calls on the central government to shed light on the reasons for the arrest of Pittala Srisailam, editor of the online television station Musi TV (, on 4 December in Hyderabad, the capital of the eastern state of Andhra Pradesh. Accused of being a Maoist “courier,” Srisailam was going to interview one of the leaders of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) when arrested.

Srisailam was interrogated for 30 hours before being formally placed under arrest. In the course of his transfer from Ongol prison to Nellore prison in Andhra Pradesh, he told journalists: “I was kidnapped by police and wrongly implicated as a Maoist courier. I was also tortured by the police in custody to make me confess to things I am not aware of. I have no connections whatsoever with the Maoists and was there only for an interview as a part of my job as a journalist.”

His family and colleagues have met with Andhra Pradesh interior minister Jana Reddy, but nothing has so far come of the meeting. Musi TV supports separate statehood for Telangana, the northwestern half of Andhra Pradesh state. It posts videos of pro-Telangana meetings, unrest and local news on its website. The Hyderabad police recently threatened Srisailam with the “worst consequences” if he continued to work for the station.

An online petition to the Indian government calling for Srisailam’s release:


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Naxals blow up police station in Chhattisgarh, three killed

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

Three policemen, including an officer, were killed when armed Naxalites attacked the Bishrampur Police station in Bastar district of Chattisgarh.

“Over 50 armed Naxalites came in four vehicles to Bishrampur Police station last night and opened indiscriminate firing and then triggered multiple landmine blasts,” Bastar Range Inspector General of Police, Rajinder Kumar Vij, told PTI over phone.

An Assistance Sub-Inspector and two Head Constables were killed on the spot while another constable was seriously injured in the attack, he said.

The extremists later set off three land mines and blew up the police station, the IGP said.

The police station was having 15 security personnel, but no weapons and ammunitions were issued to it fearing that the Maoists could loot that, police sources said.

After the incident, the Naxals went to Dhamtari district from where they could have slipped into Nabrangpur district of neighbouring Orissa, the sources said.

When the attack took place, Chattisgarh Director General of Police, Vishwaranjan, was present in Bastar district which is infested with naxal menace for the last two decades.

The Hindustan Times

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Naxals attack in Gadchiroli

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

CHANDRAPUR: Naxalites set ablaze three vehicles – two tippers and a truck – of a contractor on Wednesday evening. The incident took place near Haldwahi Tola village in Chamorshi tehsil of Gadchiroli district, said the police.

According to sources, the Naxals came to the village and after identifying the vehicles of the construction company – Sainath Constructions – set those ablaze. The Naxalites then disappeared into the jungle.

Sanjay Latkar, SDPO of Chamorshi division, said, “The Naxals have burnt the three vehicles owned by Raju Biyani, director of Sainath Constructions on Wednesday evening.”

Offences under relevant sections of the IPC have been registered at Chamorshi police station

Times of India

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Body with bullet holes dug out- Wife of BUPC supporter says shirt belonged to her husband

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

Nandigram, Dec. 12: A body with two bullet holes was to- day dug out of the suspected grave that had been found in Parulbari village.

A woman, Shyamali Pramanick, saw the decomposed remains and said it was that of her husband’s.

Haren, aged around 37, was a Bhoomi Uchchhed Pra- tirodh Committee supporter. His family said he went missing on November 7 while returning home from the Nandigram block hospital, where his father was being treated for a heart ailment.

Shyamali Pramanick, who identified the body that was dug out as her husband’s, looks at the grave. (Jahangir Badsa)

Shyamali and her sister-in-law Sephali identified Haren by his blue striped shirt and a talisman around the waist.

“We had received a missing diary about Haren Pramanick. Now we will treat it as a murder case,” said East Midnapore superintendent of police S.S. Panda.

CBI superintendents Sujit Pandey and R.R. Sahay also visited the spot to probe whether the exhumed body had anything to do with the March 14 police firing.

Maheshpur, adjoining Parulbari, and its neighbouring villages had witnessed heavy gun battles between CPM and Pratirodh Committee supporters from October 28 to the first week of November.

Hundreds thronged Parulbari this morning as news that the body would be dug out spread. They were covering their nose to ward off the stench as the body was being pulled out.

After about half an hour of digging, the spades hit something hard and a human skull with tufts of hair could be seen. Further digging revealed a rotting and torn gunny bag, through which a pair of navy blue trousers stuck out. The dead man had his hands tied behind his back.

“One bullet had pierced the abdomen and the other the shoulders,” a police officer said.

As soon as the body was exhumed, committee conveners Sheikh Sufiyan and Abdus Samad claimed that it was Pramanick’s. They called Shyamali and Sephali to identify it.

“I could not recognise the face. But when the dirt was removed from the shirt, I recog-nised it. A close look and I could make out it was him,” Shyamali said, clutching her nine-year-old son Toton and crying .

“We also identified the ghunshi (talisman) my brother wore,” said Sephali.

“My father (Bhushan, 65) lost his will to live after hearing about his only son’s death. He passed away on November 30. We performed his shraadh today before coming here.”

Parulbari is about 2km from Kamalpur, where the Pramanicks live.

The CRPF today found a used 9mm bullet and a spent .315 cartridge from the area. Twenty-three used .315 cartridges were found yesterday.

CM statement

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will make a statement on the role of the CRPF in Nandigram in the Assembly tomorrow.

CPM leaders had been accusing the force of harassing villagers from the time it arrived in Nandigram.

The CPM state secretariat met this evening to finalise the contents of the statement. The chief minister and the home secretary had earlier lauded the role of the CRPF.

A group of party MPs led by Basudev Acharya will visit Nandigram tomorrow.


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Dissidents in CPI(M) helping find more graves in Nandigram

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 13, 2007

NEW DELHI: After the recovery of several human bones and seven graves in Nandigram, the men in uniform are now being helped by CPI(M) dissidents to uncover more graves. Explosives, live bombs and weapons have also been seized in the past few days.

“We have so far uncovered seven graves, but there is a strong possibility there could be many more. What we have found could be the tip of the iceberg,” said a senior official involved in the operations in Nandigram.

The officer added that since the paramilitary force was new to the area and did not know the terrain, it was relying on CPI(M) dissidents to locate new graves and recover weapons.

“We have no option but to rely on the inputs given by them. This is not our job but we are doing it considering the extent of the problem,” said the officer, adding that they have prepared a list of people who have gone missing after the violence.

“The list was prepared on the basis of complaints made by people. We gave the list to local police since it is not our job to find missing people,” he added.

The paramilitary force has also recovered 44kg of IEDs.

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