Statement from Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations

CDRO strongly condemns the arrest of the leader of the Bhangar anti-power grid peasants movement and spokesperson of the Bhangar Land, Livelihood, Environment and Ecology Protection Committee, Alik Chakraborty, from Bhubaneshwar on 31.05.2018 by a team of the West Bengal police. Alik has been suffering from life-theratening ailments for quite some time and had gone to Kalinga Hospital in Bhubaneshwar to receive treatment when he was arrested by West Bengal police. It is condemnable that the leader of a peoples’ movement was arrested in this heinous manner when he had gone to receive medical treatment.

The Bhangar peasants’ movement is continuing for the last one and half years demanding the stopping of the high tension power grid which is being constructed in the area. More than thirty thousand peasants from 10-12 villages are involved in this movement against the construction of the powergrid which has been done in the most undemocratic and non-transparent manner. None of the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 has been followed in the land acquisition process for the power grid. Instead, land has been forcibly acquired at gun point by land mafia allied to the ruling party in West Bengal. When the villagers have protested against this they have faced severe state repression which has already taken three live, two of villagers who were killed in police firing in January 2017 and one who was recently killed by firing from goons of the ruling party in the run up to the West Bengal panchayat elections. Hundreds of cases have been lodged against villagers and activists including under Arms Act, Rioting Act and also Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). When the validity of application of UAPA against activists of peoples’ movement was challenged in the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court, the activists charged under UAPA were released on bail. The case is still pending in the High Court. Currently four activists of the Bhangar Movement Solidarity Committee are in jail under multiple false cases, three of whom got bail in all their cases just yesterday.

Notwithstanding this severe repression, the villagers of Bhangar participated in the recent panchayat elections and five independent candidates supported by the Bhangar Land, Livelihood, Environment and Ecology Protection Committee, won panchayat seats in the face of severe repression by the ruling party including firing on rallies, forcible prevention of filing election nomination and kidnapping of family members of candidates. It appears that every democratic right of the people of Bhangar has been violated over the last one and half year by active machinations of the West Bengal government and ruling party of West Bengal. And when this has not been able to dampen or destroy the democratic movement of the people of Bhangar, the government has clamped down by the arrest of Alik Chakraborty the spokesperson of the movement. It is reprehensible that instead of opening a dialogue with the people of Bhangor regarding their legitimate concerns, which has been their longstanding demand, the West Bengal government has chosen to adopt the path of repression to arrest and persecute the activists of a peoples’ movement.

CDRO demands that:

Alik Chakraborty be released immediately and all care should be taken about his health condition while in custody.

All other activists of the Bhangar Movement Solidarity Committee, including Amitava Bhattacharya, Sankar Das, Biswajit Hazra and Dr. Ratul Banerjee be released immediately.

False cases against all villagers of Bhangar and activists connected with the Bhangar movement be withdrawn.

The West Bengal government, instead of repressive measures, should initiate a dialogue with the Bhangar peasants’ committee to find a resolution to their legitimate concerns in a democratic manner.

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পোলেরহাট ২, কাশীপুর, দক্ষিণ ২৪ পরগণা

৩১.০৫.১৮: গণমাধ্যমের সূত্র থেকে আমরা জানতে পারছি জমি জীবিকা বাস্তুতন্ত্র ও পরিবেশ রক্ষা কমিটির মুখপাত্র অলিক চক্রবর্তীকে ভুবনেশ্বর থেকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়েছে। সরকারের ধারণা এই গ্রেপ্তারির মধ্য দিয়ে ভাঙড় আন্দোলনের মেরুদন্ড ভেঙে দেওয়া যাবে। অলিক চক্রবর্তীর গ্রেপ্তারির তীব্র নিন্দা করার পাশাপাশি আমরা জানাচ্ছি, ভাঙড় আন্দোলনকে ধ্বংস করার শক্তি শাসকদলের নেই। শত দমন সত্ত্বেও এই আন্দোলন দুর্বার গতিতে এগিয়ে যাবে ও জয়লাভ করবে।

একগুচ্ছ মিথ্যা মামলায় ভাঙড় গণআন্দোলনের নেতা অলিক চক্রবর্তীর গ্রেপ্তার পশ্চিমবঙ্গ সরকারের ফ্যাসিস্ট মুখটাকে আরো ভালো করে উন্মোচিত করল। সরকার বিরোধী যেকোনো কন্ঠকে স্তব্ধ করার যে পরম্পরা পশ্চিমবঙ্গ সরকার শুরু করেছে, তারই ধারাবাহিকতায় এই গ্রেপ্তারি।

অলিক অসুস্থ অবস্থায় চিকিৎসার জন্য ভুবনেশ্বর গিয়েছিলেন। সেখান থেকে তাঁকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়। পুলিশি তৎপরতায় তাঁর জীবনসংশয় ঘটবে না, সে ব্যাপারেও আমরা নিশ্চিত নই।

আমরা অলিক চক্রবর্তীর নিঃশর্ত মুক্তি দাবি করছি এবং ভাঙড় আন্দোলনকে তার কাঙ্খিত লক্ষ্যে এগিয়ে নিয়ে যাওয়ার জন্য সমস্ত গণতন্ত্রপ্রিয় মানুষের কাছে আহ্বান জানাচ্ছি।

সংগ্রামী অভিনন্দন সহ,
শর্মিষ্ঠা চৌধুরী
জমি জীবিকা বাস্তুতন্ত্র ও পরিবেশ রক্ষা কমিটি

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31.05.18: From media sources, we have learned that the Committee for Protection of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and Environment spokesman, Alik Chakraborty, was arrested from Bhubaneshwar. The idea of ​​the government is to break the backbone of the Bhangar movement through this arrest. Along with the strong condemnation of the arrest of the Alik Chakrabarti, we are convinced that the ruling party does not have the power to destroy the Bhangar movement. Despite the overwhelming repression, the movement will move forward strongly and win.

By charging Alik Chakrabarty, one of the leaders of the mass movement in Bhangar, in a bunch of false cases, the fascist face of the West Bengal government is exposed. This arrest is a continuation of the tradition of the West Bengal government to suppress any anti-government voice.

Alik was in Bhuvaneshwar for medical treatment, from where he was arrested. We are worried about the threat to his life, due to police action.

We are demanding unconditional release of Alik Chakrabarty and call on all democratic people to take the Bhangar movement to its desired goal.

In solidarity,
Sharmistha Chowdhury
Committee for Protection of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and Environment