When: Monday 2nd April, 4 PM
Where: Outside the High Commission of India, India House, Aldwych, London, WC2B 4NA
Nearest Tubes: Holborn, Covent Garden, Charing Cross and Temple
On March 14th, 15 people were killed and many more injured when the police opened fire on peasants trying to protect their land from being acquired for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). On Monday the 2nd of April, there will be a demo outside the Indian High Commission to protest the tragic loss of human life caused by the violent expansion of neo-liberal economic forces. If you canâ€™t attend the demo in person, at the end of this message there are e-mail addresses for you to contact the Indian high commissioner to protest the killings, and links to more info about the situation.
We call on the Indian government to:
1) Hold a genuinely 'independent' enquiry made up of members of the citizenry, retired judges and so on so as to find out what has happened in the months leading up to the massacre.
2) Provide full treatment for the many injured people who have still not received adequate medical attention, including counselling to mitigate the psychological trauma which is clearly evident on the ground after the events of 14/3.
3) Account for the 100 or more people who are still missing following the brutal repression.
4) Respect the right of the villagers right to remain in their ancestral lands and livelihood and halt the construction of the SEZ in Nandigram.
5) Stop using force in order to dispossess/displace rural folks of/from their land, livelihood and lifestyle and justifying/rationalising it as a necessary evil in the 'all important' path of development/industrialisation.
6) Suspend the â€˜SEZ Act of 2005â€™ which will only cause more violent confrontations and repression like in Nandigram, as well as widespread environmental degradation, human rights and labour abuses, massive displacement of rural villagers and the appropriation of Indiaâ€™s national resources by transnational corporations.
"The people claim that the number of those killed is much higher than the official figure of 15, and that the police and CPI-M cadres are burying bodies under rubble and building roads and culverts over them," said Aditi Chowdhury, a Kolkata-based social activist who has been following developments in the area, where trouble first erupted two-and-a-half months ago over the acquisition of land for the construction of an SEZ.
Chowdhury said: "Thousands of armed policemen surrounded the villages, and on many occasions they fired at eye-level to kill. TV footage showed trucks carrying bodies with their legs dangling out. The brutality was chilling.'' She added that state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's brazen defence of the firing, as part of an attempt to restore law and order in the area, has only occasioned more public anger.
SEZs are the frontline of neo-liberal economic expansion, whereby foreign investment is enticed into zones where a countryâ€™s normal legislation is suspended â€“ taxes can be avoided, environmental regulation ignored and trade unions and labour laws donâ€™t get a look in. The SEZ in Nandigram will cover huge expanses of land with factory complexes,worker housing and amenities. Nandigram is not planned to be a single chemical plant, but a major hub for the chemical industry, spread across 19,000 acres.
Nandigram is not the only site being forcibly converted into an SEZ â€“ there are plans for hundreds of SEZs across all of India, modelled on the ones that were at the heart of China's rapid industrialisation. In Orissa, a POSCO steel project, which has
been given an SEZ approval will displace more than 400 poor families in coastal Orissa's Jagatsinghpur District. 33 projects are coming up in Konkan region alone leading to a complete destruction of the Western Ghats forests. Scarcity of water and power, especially due to SEZs coming up close to Urban Centres has been raised as an issue. Fishworkers movements from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh have raised issues of destruction of the coastline by SEZ projects.
Links and contact:
â€˜Villagers in India fight back over state's plan for chemical factoryâ€™ Article in the Independent 9/2/7
'Neo-Liberal' Left Behind Peasants' Massacre by Praful Bidwai
Find out more about Action 2007, a coalition of civil society groups and social movements opposing the SEZ Act
Nanigram SEZ controversy on Wikipedia
The High Commissioner of London is Mr. Kamalesh Sharma and his email address is email@example.com
Or you can write to him at the postal address:
High Commission of India, India House, Aldwych, London, WC2B 4NA