The Environmental Project of the Transnational Institute, South Asia Solidarity Group and Reading Grassroots Action, are protesting against the premeditated massacre of men, women and children in Nandigram on 14 and 15 March, which took place when a 5,000 strong contingent of police opened fire on local people resisting forcible eviction from their land which was to be turned into a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
"The people claim that the number of those killed is much higher than the official figure of 15, and that the police and cadres of the ruling party 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, "police fired at eye-level to kill. TV footage showed trucks carrying bodies with their legs dangling out. The brutality was chilling.''
The true scale of the atrocities is now emerging as more than 50 people are missing from the terrorised villages of Nandigram. There have been reports that women were gang-raped, children brutally attacked, and that there are large numbers of young girls and children among the â€˜disappearedâ€™ in the targeted villages.
SEZs which have been dubbed â€˜developmental terrorismâ€™ create vast enclaves which are virtually foreign territories controlled by large multinational corporations, and will render thousands destitute. Following a nationwide outcry over the Nandigram killings, the West Bengal government is now planning to relocate the proposed â€˜chemical hubâ€™ SEZ near the port of Haldia. The main transnational corporation showing interest in this new SEZ is Dow Chemicals â€“ manufacturers of â€˜Agent Orangeâ€™ who were major suppliers of chemical weapons and bombs for use against Vietnam. There are major concerns about pollution: chemical factories need special environmental clearance (Environmental Impact Assessment)which was not sought for Nandigram and is also likely to be bypassed in Haldia.
The brutal repression in Nandigram will inevitably be repeated if India continues with its plans to develop similar SEZs across the country,â€ said Kevin Smith of the Transnational Institute.
The protestors will present a list of demands to the Indian High Commission, which includes: 1) A thorough independent enquiry and the prosecution of all state officials, including police personnel, who are suspected of perpetrating human rights violations 2) Full medical attention for those injured who have yet to receive proper care. 3) The immediate suspension of the SEZ Act of 2005
For more details, contact Kalpana on 07875 973116
South Asia Solidarity Group