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The new game industrialists play: divide village communities so as to acquire their land

The new game industrialists play
- divide village communities so as to acquire their land –

Stan Swamy

The government has become reluctant to forcibly acquire farmers’ land for industrialists. It has of late burnt its fingers trying to forcibly acquire land. Kalinganagar, Singur, Nandigram are good examples. It is telling the industrialists to buy or lease the land on their own. So the capitalist class is devising new ways of acquiring agricultural land.

1) identify some discontented young men in the village community and entice them with money and promise of employment in the company. They are usually a little educated, but are unemployed and loitering about. They are also sufficiently alienated from agrarian economy to the extent they will not do agriculture-related work in their own fields. Such persons are given motor cycles cum daily allowance by the companies, and are told to play an active role in the process of land acquisition.
First step in dividing the village community.

2) the rest of the village community can be divided into two broad categories: ((i) the silent majority who in their heart of heart do not want to give their land to the company but feel powerless to frontally confront the very powerful company, the administration, the police. Also they do not have much idea about the company, nature of the project, impact on environment, details of compensation, quality of rehabilitation etc. Feelers are sent through the already purchased young men who by now become the middle men between the company and the people. Some of people’s needs in the area of health and education facilities are identified. The company also offers to build, equip and run primary schools, small hospitals, community halls, install hand pumps etc. at its own cost. Better rates of compensation for land & property than what the govt itself would give are promised. One company job per household is assured. In brief, heaven on earth is promised to people. Gradually over a period of time, an increasing number of these farmers are no more opposed to giving their land to the company. In this way, the initial resistance begins to weaken.
Second step in dividing the village community.

(ii) a smaller but awakened and vocal group who are against the project and the company. They are attached to their land, and in the case of Adivasi communities they consider their land not only as the main source of sustenance but also as a sacred heritage of their forefathers and the dwelling place of their spirits. They have come to realise that the companies invest not for the development of people but for profit and only profit..
Let us see how the industrialists tackle this group.
The industrialists know very well these outspoken persons have to be dealt with in a stern way. Detailed planning is done with the local administration, local police and the already bought off young men as to how to neutralise these men who are passionately opposing the project. There are instances in Jharkhand where the leaders of resistance movements were booked under non-bailable cases and some of them were jailed for several months. Even the traditional elderly Adivasi leaders were accused of serious crimes such as attempt to murder, rape etc. The young activists were always under threat of arrest.
Third step in dividing the village community.

3) Finally there are instances where the affected people have consistently stood together in solidarity in resisting the project. Such extraordinary situations need extraordinary solutions. This is where the collaboration of the state govt, local administration, police force is important. We then witness ‘state terrorism’ in its most ugly form. Koel Karo (Tapkara) police firing in 2001 at an unarmed peaceful crowd killing eight persons is an unforgettable example. Kalinganagar firing in 2005 killing eleven persons wherein the Tata Co went to the spot not only with its bulldozers but also accompanied by 11 platoons of armed police provided by the state govt.
This is the ultimate, calculated blow to people’s resistance to industrial projects aimed at displacing people and alienating their land.

13 August 2007