The developments in Nandigram have left us all appalled. From the way CPM cadres announced their intention to “capture” Nandigram, to the violence that has taken place; from the inability or unwillingness of the police to stand up to the CPM, to the defence of the violence by senior party members: all of it makes us wonder if the Government of West Bengal has any intention of ensuring the rule of law there.
Lost in the uproar are many major, contentious issues of our times: the future of SEZs, the displacement of people for projects, the place for democratic protest, the meaning of development itself. Yet the immediate priority is for the Government to act swiftly to stop violence, especially by its own party activists. The very terms in use — “cordoning off” and “capturing” the area, the “action zone” — are an affront to Indian democracy. This is the language of a Government bent on waging war on its own people.
Citizens for Peace demands that the Government of West Bengal immediately act against CPM cadres who surrounded Nandigram and are refusing to allow the press and others to enter, who have assaulted local villagers in the area, who openly flaunt their weapons. We urge the National Human Rights Commission to investigate and report on the human rights abuses in Nandigram. And we appeal to all sides for sanity and dialogue, so that all that’s at stake in Nandigram, and by extension in the country, can be debated and resolved.