Nandigram to Naxalbari: CPI(M)'s Tiananmen Square

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Must Resign – His Belated 'Regret' Is Grossly Insufficient and Insincere

(A 20-member Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPI (ML)] team comprising of Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, State Secretary Kartick Pal and senior state leaders Dr. Partha Ghosh, and Sankar Mitra, women leaders Meena Pal and Chaitali Sen, All India Students Association (AISA) leader Malay Tewari and editor of the Party's Bengali weekly organ Deshbrati Animesh Chakraborty visited the carnage-ravaged areas and people of Nandigram on 17 March. They also talked to injured victims undergoing medical treatment at the district hospital at Tamluk and the extremely under-equipped and over-crowded health centre at Nandigram. They heard reports of most horrendous killings of unarmed people, gang rapes and brutal assaults on women and children, met several people who were desperately looking for missing family members and were shocked to see very few young girls and children among the survivors in the carnage-ravaged villages of Bhangabeda, Sonachura and Gokulnagar. The following statement was issued by CPI (ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya at press conference held in Kolkata on 18 March following the CPI (ML) team's visit to Nandigram)

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's so-called expression of regret in yesterday's meeting of Left Front leaders is grossly insufficient and insincere. Had he really been serious about his moral responsibility for all the heinous crimes that have been, and are still being, perpetrated at Nandigram, the least that he must have done was to resign and offer an unconditional apology to the people of Nandigram and West Bengal.

Buddhadeb's statement at the Left Front meeting yesterday apparently marks a partial retreat from the arrogant defence of the carnage that he had made on the floor of the Assembly on March 15. But it is still not only too little and too late, but a mockery of the truth on several key counts.

The Chief Minister says he had grossly under estimated the resistance at Nandigram. The fact is the people at Nandigram were unarmed and the women and children who bore the brunt of the genocidal attack and violence were in no position to offer any resistance.

The Chief Minister has also said that he did not anticipate such police excesses while giving the go-ahead signal to the Nandigram operation. What happened at Nandigram was nothing short of a pre-meditated carnage, a cold-blooded genocide, a veritable shock-and-awe operation with the explicit aim of terrorising and coercing the fighting people of Nandigram into submission. Will Buddhadeb babu be kind enough to tell us that how many killings and rapes were actually sanctioned and how many were in excess of the sanctioned target?

Most glaring has been the Chief Minister's silence on the police-CPI (M) nexus that operated at Nandigram and that the CBI investigation has already started revealing. Survivors of the Nandigram carnage have pointed out several aspects and instances of utter complicity between the actual police and CPI (M) goons disguised as policemen. During our interaction with Nandigram survivors we have repeatedly heard complaints that CPI (M)'s MP from Haldia Lakshman Seth and a host of local leaders and panchayat functionaries of the CPI (M) were actively involved in overseeing the operation.

The carnage at Nandigram has shocked and angered the democratic conscience in West Bengal and beyond. We salute historians Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar and Pradip Dutta who have protested by returning the awards they had once received from the West Bengal government. We also congratulate the literary and cultural personalities of West Bengal who have resigned from different cultural instituitions run or sponsored by the state government and are publicly voicing their anguish and protests in various forms.

The people of West Bengal will not brook any post-carnage operation cover-up. Partners of the Left Front may feel satisfied with promises of more frequent intra-front discussion and greater intra-front accommodation, but the fighting Left forces in West Bengal and elsewhere in India will not stop till the planners and perpetrators of the heinous carnage are thoroughly unmasked and punished.

The CPI (ML) will do all it can to intensify the ongoing protests. The forthcoming March 23 Inquilab Rally in Delhi will mark the beginning of a two-months-long countrywide campaign in this direction and will culminate in West Bengal with a Naxalbari-to-Nandigram mass awakening campaign and a massive protest mobilisation in Kolkata on 25 May, the 40th anniversary of the historic Naxalbari uprising.