Stop State Terror – Scrap the Special Economic Zones!
Picket of the Indian High Commission
The Aldwych, London WC1
Friday 24 July 2009, 3.30pm – 5.30pm
In a test case establishing the fact that its model of neoliberal ‘development’ will be enforced through unrestrained violence the Indian central government is carrying out a massive paramilitary campaign in Lalgarh and surrounding areas in the adivasi (aboriginal) -dominated western region of West Bengal state. They are attempting to mercilessly crush an uprising against police atrocities and the seizure of land for the establishment of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by Jindal Steel Works, an Indian multinational.
Join the picket in support of the demands of the people of Lalgarh!
• Unconditional apology from the superintendent of police and the police personnel involved in the operations for the indiscriminate arrests, torture, rapes and illegal detentions.
• Compensation for those injured and for the families of those murdered in the attacks.
• All negotiations to be held in public and not behind closed doors.
Hands off Lalgarh!
On 18th June 2009, the Indian central government launched a massive paramilitary campaign in Lalgarh and surrounding areas in the adivasi (aboriginal) -dominated western region of West Bengal state, bordering Jharkhand and Orissa, forcing hundreds to flee their homes. This is being carried out ostensibly to flush out Maoists and restore the authority of the state but in fact to mercilessly crush an adivasi uprising against police atrocities and the seizure of their land for the establishment of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). For the new UPA government and its belligerent Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, Lalgarh is a test case establishing that its neo-liberal model of ‘development’ will be enforced through unrestrained violence by paramilitary forces.
Under the Special Economic Zones Act (2005), state governments are forcibly acquiring vast swathes of fertile agricultural land and handing them over to transnational corporations in the ‘biggest land-grab since the colonial period’. SEZs are virtually foreign territories controlled by the corporations, which will run special courts which will meet their needs, and where labour and tax laws will not apply. Elected local government will be replaced by an unelected ‘development commissioner’, and local people will need passes to enter.
The state government of West Bengal has seized 5000 acres of land in West Midnapore district (which includes Lalgarh), to be handed over to Jindal Steel Works, a leading Indian multinational steel company with interests in India and outside, including in Bolivia.
On 2nd November last year when the Chief Minister of West Bengal and the central minister for mining were returning from the inauguration of the Jindal Steel Works in the SEZ, a landmine explosion occurred targeting the ministerial convoy.
Instead of investigating the mine blast, on 5 November the state government began a huge police operation against the people of the region, with widespread arrests, torture, rapes of women and murders. The protests by thousands of local adivasi people which followed, spearheaded by the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, were met with ruthless repression. In June, faced with a full-scale uprising, the central government imposed a ban on the Maoist party and used it to intensify the attacks on the adivasi people, labeling them now as Maoists.
In the experience of the oppressed adivasi people of this region, in all these years not much has changed. The uprising in Lalgarh is effectively a continuation of the ‘tribal revolts’ against repression and injustice which were an important part of India’s anti-colonial struggle. And as the convenor of the People’s Committee Against Police Attrocities, says ‘in the 62 years which followed independence neither the central government nor the state government did anything for the welfare of the tribals of Bengal's Jangalmahal, these ‘leaders’ became millionaires by exploiting the tribals of the area... while sons of the soil died of starvation’.
Resistance in Lalgarh continues unabated. Come and show your solidarity with the demands of the people of Lalgarh for justice and an end to police and paramilitary violence.
Campaign Against Land Grab and Forced Displacement of People
South Asia Solidarity Group
Indian Workers’ Association (GB)
No 2 Displacement