EVICTIONS AND REPRESSION IN WEST BENGAL
April 23, 11 am at the Indian Women’s Press Corps,
5, WINDSOR PLACE, NEW DELHI-110001
On March 30, 2012, the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), with the full support of the Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government and its police force, bulldozed and burnt down the houses of over 200 families in the shantytown of Nonadanga in the name of ‘development’ and ‘beautification’. The dictatorial Trinamool government has unleashed police and ‘legal’ repression, on an everyday basis, on all those who have been trying to resist this. A march of residents, under the banner of Ucched Pratirodh Committee (Resistance to Eviction Committee), was brutally lathicharged by the police on April 4, and again a sit-in demonstration four days later (April 8th) was violently broken up and 67 people arrested. Subsequent meetings and rallies held in solidarity with the movement on April 9 and 12 were attacked by goons, and hundreds of activists were arrested by the police. Cases under Sections 353, 332, 141, 143, 148 and 149 of the IPC have been slapped on seven activists of various mass and democratic rights organisations, which stood in support of the Nonadanga movement. Six of them are either in jail or police remand till April 26, while Partho Sarathi Ray was released on bail on April 18. Debolina Chakrabarti has even been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for ‘anti-national activities’. During a court hearing on April 12 a prosecution team of 40 lawyers made a concerted bid to implicate them in a slew of false cases and paint them as ‘anti-national’, even going so far as to claim that Nonadanga was used for “stockpiling arms and ammunition”. In spite of such unrelenting and brutal repression by the state, the people of Nonadanga have continued to resist.
The sword of eviction hangs not just on a Nonadanga, or for that matter a Bhalaswa (Delhi). Today in India, 256 lakh people are homeless or live in abject conditions in slums, and this number is progressively on the rise. Forget jobs or providing decent education, the state is retreating from all its responsibilities of providing working masses with the cost of living and reproduction. Evicting them from their homes has become the norm, as the cities are restructured according to the needs of the ruling classes.
In Delhi, more than two dozen left and progressive organisations have come together not just in solidarity with the Nonadanga struggle and the arrested activists, but, more importantly, to leverage this opportunity to link up the everyday struggles of their respective mass bases with one another. That, we think, is crucial in order to build a larger, countrywide urban resistance of the working people against the depredations of neo-liberal capital.
We invite members of the press to a press conference on April 23, 11 am at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, 5, WINDSOR PLACE, NEW DELHI-110001 to announce our future course of action and to express our solidarity with the Nonadanga struggle.
Nayanjyoti & Sunil – Coordinators