New Delhi: Militias of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM in West Bengal have killed people and raped women with impunity after farmers refused to give their land for industry, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
The human rights abuses occurred after the state government failed to persuade farmers of Nandigram to sell their land for a chemical industry complex, the organization said.
“People who abused, who attacked, who took recourse to violence to establish their political dominance were neither booked nor arrested by state agencies,” Mukul Sharma, head of the group’s India chapter, said.
A cluster of villages, Nandigram has been the flashpoint of a conflict between mostly poor farmers and the state government since early 2007 over the refusal of the villagers to sell their land. Nearly three dozen people are known to have been killed and several women raped, while police have found several unmarked graves in nearby areas.
Similar violent protests had initially met the factory manufacturing the so-called Rs1 lakh car, the Tata Nano from Tata Motors Ltd, at a town near state capital Kolkata.
“In Nandigram, private militias owing allegiance to the CPM and armed supporters of local organisations battled for territorial control,” Amnesty’s State of the World’s Human Rights report said. “A range of human rights violations followed, including killings, forced evictions, excessive police force, violence against women, denial of access and information to media and human rights organisations.”
But the communists say they are being needlessly vilified.
“We are facing a massive disinformation campaign on Nandigram,” senior CPM leader Shymal Chakraborty said. “The picture being painted is one-sided.”