June 15, 2009



TAMLUK, 14th JUNE: Khejuri was a strange, eerily silent place when we entered it on 10 June. At the height of the inhuman, unpardonable acts committed on the people at the various blocks of adjoining Nandigram during 2007-2008, Khejuri it had been that had provided courage to the people to fight back in order to survive, and battle for another day, another time.

As a visitor to Nandigram following the crucial events of watershed proportions of 14 March 2007, we could witness to what degree a combination of assaults and lies would coexist in the idiom of the dread-- and the pall death and the groaning of the dying that would follow with inevitability.

Now, it is a different tale altogether, a turn for the worse. The sheer cruelty of the events defies even the simplest raison d’ĂȘtre. Biman Basu, state secretary, Bengal CPI (M) declared long back in a porparler with a cynical corporate media that the killing amongst the poor must stop, and said ‘we had acknowledged the verdict of the people with a deeply humble frame of mind.’

Yet, the killing continues, and the big press along with its electronic counterpart continues to focus attention on what they try but oh-so-hard to convince the public that it is the Bengal opposition that is at the receiving end, and do not take the word evidence in any circumstances. A young colleague recently in the city from Delhi asked us at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan, in her genuine wide-eyed innocence, as to the veracity of the Bengal reports circulating in the INN arrangement about attacks organised against the CPI (M) and the mass of the people.

In Khejuri at Kalagetchia, a fierce attack had ended just a few hours back. The CPI (M) local and zonal offices, at the neighbouring Baratala, Kunjapur, Kamarda, Hedia, Gholabad, Haludbari, Bir Bandar, Jehanabad, and Tallah had been meticulously looted, ransacked, and then torched. The Party offices in the rural and industrial stretches, especially in south and western Bengal, one must understand, are but humble structures for anyone curious enough to go and cross-check, quite unostentatious, often sharing accommodation -- a couple of small 10’ x 8’ rooms on ground floors of cooperative buildings, as tenants, and we saw entire buildings set fire to and the myriad of documents including crucial Party circulars lying around, the licking edge of flames yet evident in the air rendered merciless and acrid with the aftermath of rampant but not mindless violence.

Thousands of villagers and the townsfolk from the adjoining pastoral and suburbia were driven out with nothing on them except the clothing they wore. Children especially were fearfully terrorised until they would collapse from trauma of what they perceived as approaching death. We saw at least 100 hutments, along with dozens upon dozens of small pucca single-storey houses, shops, and martyrs’ columns razed to the ground, petrol had then been sprinkled on, and a lit match thrown in with whoops of perverted joy.

We are met with a lone, loitering, and lathi-wielding Trinamul Congress worker who is dangerously inebriated with something more than a thirsting lust for violence. He informs us, with a casual menace in his voice, ‘dadu, bhalo korey lekho, oder ki haal korchhi aamra [‘write well, granddad, what have we rendered unto them].] We draw away from the smell of criminal barbarity the he reeks of.

We are told later that the residential accommodations of a great many local and zonal-level CPI (M) leaders of the entire Khejuri block had been scoured and looted. Dozens of CPI (M) workers have been kidnapped and included among them are district committee member Javed Mullick and zonal leader Prasanta Maity, as well as CPI (M) office wholetimers Swapan Sheet, and Badal Garudas. As we file this report, looting, arson, and imposition of ‘fines’ for being a CPI (M) worker/supporter go on with the miserable desperation of the people of Khejuri being on the rise, and rise.

The Trinamul Congress along with their Pradesh Congress did something on 9 June that amazes us still– they forcibly prevented a team of Left Front ministers who had gone on a fact-finding visit to Khejuri-- to go beyond the Bajkul crossing, a good two kilometres away from Khejuri. The ministers included Partha De (school education), Rekha Goswami (self-employment), Robilal Moitra (law), Chakradhar Meikap (technical education), and Benoy Biswas (refugee rehabilitation.)

In between, as the ministers faced the roadblock for hours and hours together, ten more CPI (M) office were rendered into piles of rubble and burnt cinders, more than 200 CPI (M) workers beaten up badly enough to be hospitalised, 200 houses were torched, and one thousand more made to leave home-and-hearth at Khejuri.

The district CPI (M) has submitted a memorandum to the Left Front government and they have called for a sealing of the ‘border’ between Nandigram and Khejuri; route march to be organised by the security forces from Hedia to Vidyapith crossing in particular, the storm-centre of the attacks; and appropriate action initiated against the guilty in the instances of murder, assault, arson, and looting.

Meeting the print and the electronic media on 10 June Biman Basu recalls how no less than 43 CPI (M) workers have been martyred at the hands of the Pradesh Congress, the Trinamul Congress, and the self-styled ‘Maoists.’ He also notes how during the admission sessions in educational institutions, the student wings of the Bengal opposition have run amok hurting students’ interests and seeking to bring back the anarchy of the 1970s. SFI workers are being subjected to murderous assaults-- even principals, teachers, and education officials are not spared from a series of humiliating actions being launched on them with impunity by the hooligans of the Pradesh Congress and the Trinamul Congress.

Fresh assaults have been launched at Katwa in Burdwan. This morning (15 June) at Dhanayakuri in Katwa, comrade Falguni Mukhopadhyay, a district committee member of the CPI (M) was returning to his residence when he was accosted by three criminals patronised, we are told by the Burdwan district leaders, by the Pradesh Congress. They then pulled comrade Falguni down from his bicycle, pumped three bullets into head and after making sure that the comrade had breathed his last in the intensity of agony a head wound would cause, they left in a flourish, brandishing sophisticated fire-arms.

In a related incident at Lalgarh, in Midnapore west, fresh waves of assaults are organised by the anti-socials who call themselves ‘Maoists.’ During the day of 14 June, a large contingent of armed goons, dressed commando-style, carrying automatic weapons descended on the CPI (M) offices at Dharampur. The villager led by the CPI (M) fought back with whatever they could lay their hands on. The attackers finally fled the scene dragging away four of their dead as these elements usually do.

It is unfortunate that three CPI (M) workers in the van of the brave resistance against a veritable pour of bullets died from injuries before medical help could be mustered. Evening had by then come floating down. We knew all three who were martyred through frequency of our visits to the laterite zone in the winter of 2008-2009. The comrades are, Harinagunj branch secretary Asit Samanta, DYFI leader Prabir Mahato, and CPI (M) worker Nadu Samanta – young comrades all of them, being in their prime of lives at the mid-twenties.

Alarmingly enough, we are just now informed that six CPI (M) workers had been kidnapped in a wounded state during the intense fracas at Dharampur, and they are, Keshab Manna, Debabrata Soren, Dhiraj Manna, Sanjay Mahato, Swapan Mahato, and Mohan Singh. We dread of their fate at the hands of the killers. Elsewhere, at Panchla in the Howrah rural belt, later in the week on 14 June, comrade Kinkar Dolui was kidnapped by criminals of the Pradesh Congress, and subsequently hacked cruelly to death.

At Binpur near Dharampur, a young girl child died when the dug up roads prevented her desperate parents from taking the ailing child Mamoni Kisku to the nearest medical relief centre. This happened during the evening of 14 June. At Khejuri, the same evening a poor daily wage earner in the rice paddies as a khet mazdoor, and a staunch CPI (M) activist, Pabitra Das was brutally beaten to a pulp to his excruciatingly painful demise by elements that are known for their boisterous association with the Trinamul Congress. (INN)


'People rejected the Third Front alternative' : Shyamal Chakrabarty

Kolkata, 15 June, 2009,Times of India

The CPI(M) is undergoing an organisational review after the reverses in the Lok Sabha polls. Shyamal Chakrabarty , member of party's West Bengal secretariat and central committee, talks to Saugata Roy :

Q:What are the major factors behind the Left debacle in the recent Lok Sabha polls in Bengal?

Chakrabarty: There are many factors, national and local, behind our poor show. People rejected the Third Front alternative. Even if it is a fact that we are very much into coalition politics, and have been running the Left Front government in West Bengal since 1977, voters didn't like the kind of coalition we floated after we withdrew support to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.

Q: CPI general secretary A B Bardhan felt that Left's withdrawing support from the UPA government over the Indo-US nuclear deal was not proper. What is your view?

Chakrabarty:Bardhan is a senior Left leader and CPI is a major constituent of the Left Front. We should consider his comment with due importance because the withdrawal decision was finally adopted in the meeting of four Left parties in Delhi.

Q:How do you account for the downslide in the CPI(M)'s vote share in West Bengal?

Chakrabarty: There are many local factors such as our stand on land acquisition, performance of state government, and also the state party. Voters didn't accept our land acquisition process. The acquisition in Singur should have come after adequate discussion at the grassroots. The Nandigram case is a little different though. The government dropped the acquisition plan there. It gave compensation to landowners and now we need to work on models beyond monetary compensation for land losers and those dependent on the land, ...of something that can generate a stable income. But i must say that the acquisition experience is not all that negative. The party's performance has improved in Purulia where the government acquired land for industry.

Q:While pursuing industry did the Left shift from its mainstay - the rural and urban poor? Does the Left Front government need to reposition itself among the downtrodden?

Chakrabarty:I don't know how far this is true. After all, people go by perception. One of my friends rang me the other day and said the Congress government works in the interests of big business but projects itself as a saviour of the poor. And our government has been working for the poor, but the campaign is that we have turned pro-rich. Borrowing Noam Chomsky, i would say that the media has succeeded in manufacturing this view.

Q:There is a rumour that heads might roll in the government and the party.

Chakrabarty:I don't see any reason why individuals should be held responsible for a failure when the decision was a collective one. It holds true for everyone Prakash Karat, Biman Basu, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Unlike other parties where individuals call the shots, the system in our party is different.

Jai Balaji to set up iron ore washing plant in Durgapur

KOLKATA:Sunday, 14 Jun 2009-It is reported that Jai Balaji Industries is to install a CDE iron ore washing plant at their facility at Durgapur in West Bengal. AS per release, with a capacity of 200 tonnes per hour, the plant for Jai Balaji Industries will be the largest installed by CDE in India.
Jai Balaji Industries have introduced the CDE iron ore washing system to replace their existing mobile dry screening system as they seek to improve the final quality of their iron ore which is subsequently used in a number of their steel manufacturing operations. The washing of iron ore reserves is proven to have many advantages over dry screening, most importantly the removal of many contaminants which have a detrimental effect on the final quality of the iron ore.
The introduction of the new CDE iron ore washing system will improve the final quality of the iron ore through an efficient and effective reduction in the levels of contaminants in the raw iron ore. These contaminants such as Alumica, Silica and fine silts and clays create inefficiencies in the steel production process and their effective removal can lead to substantial cost savings in production as well as allowing for the production of high quality steel products.

Mamata calls on Basu

KOLKATA: 14 Jun 2009-Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday called on Communist Party of India (Marxist) patriarch Jyoti Basu at his Salt Lake residence, saying that she wanted to pay a courtesy visit to a senior leader.

The CPI(M) patriarch congratulated the Trinamool Congress chief on her election victory and said he wanted her "co-operation". He also hoped that the Trinamool Congress would play its role of an Opposition. “I will not be there to watch the next election.” Basu told Mamata.
"I told him (Basu) I had no political issues. He told me he would not be there in the coming Assembly elections. I felt someone had prompted him to say these words," Coming out of Basu’s house, Banerjee told mediapersons: “I wanted to talk politics with Basu. But the presence of someone inside his room prevented me. I simply wished him a speedy recovery... I admire Jyoti Basu, his health is better and therefore I decided to meet him.” Mamata, was accompanied by Mukul Roy and Partho Chattarjee.

It was Ramola Chakraborty, wife of the State Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty, who was present inside Basu’s room. She left only after Mamata’s departure. Ramola, when contacted, said she did not know about Mamata’s visit as it was unscheduled. As Basu’s personal secretary is on leave she has been visiting him at least twice a day, she said, adding that she just happened to be in the room when Mamata came in.

Mamata last visited Basu on June 5, 2007, to discuss Nandigram and Singur on the latter’s invitation.

Later, Mamata called on former chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray and briefed him about the law and order situation in the state.

Buddhadeb seeks funds for 'Sunderbans Chinese wall'

Kolkata:June 14, 2009 -Bengal wants Rs 15,000 crore to protect the area from cyclones and high tides. West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will seek Rs 15,000 crore from the Centre for building a “mini Chinese Wall” along the coastal area of the Sundarbans to protect the area’s 4.1 million people from further cyclones and high tides. The area was recently hit by cyclone Aila.

The chief minister is scheduled to meet the prime minister on June 19 in New Delhi where he will seek the grant. The plan is to build a concrete wall and embankments. Two days ago, state Finance Minister Ashim Dasgupta had met Home Minister P Chidambaram and sought Rs 10,000 crore for the project. After making several visits to the Sundarbans, the chief minister decided to raise the demand to Rs 15,000 crore.

Kanti Ganguly, the minister in charge of the Sundarbans, said this was a preliminary estimate and might rise. There are over 3,500-km embankments on various rivers in the Sundarbans, of which at least 400 km were destroyed by Aila and the high tide that followed. Ganguly told Business Standard that the entire stretch of 3,500-km riversides would not need concrete embankments.

Experts who examined the area after the devastation had said that there should be three lines of defence. The first line, exposed to the sea, should consist of mangrove rings, they said. It was noticed that the islands where mangroves were in abundance did not face the kind of devastation that visited other areas. The second line should be embankments and the third should be trees natural to the climate and soil of the Sundarbans, they said.

Prof Anandadev Mukhopadhyaya, an eminent oceanologist who has been conducting extensive studies in the Digha-Shankarpur coastline area that falls within the cyclone-hit zone, says construction of the concrete wall or embankments will go a long way in protecting the coastal area. He feels the mangrove belt is a must to protect the islands.The area is suffering from an acute shortage of drinking water, food and houses. According to Ganguly, more than 150,000 houses have been partly or fully destroyed by the cyclone. He said that after the cyclone, sea water entered the villages and seeped in a large number of mud houses. These houses, he said, might not last the coming monsoon.