Rights groups slam West Bengal government over Nandigram


New Delhi : Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have slammed the West Bengal government over its failure to provide succour to the victims of Nandigram violence, which killed least 25 people last year.

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There is complete omission of responsibility of the government officials towards the victims of the violence, said a report by the international rights bodies.

The report, which was released Tuesday, demanded an independent inquiry into the series of violent incidents in Nandigram since early 2007.

Based on a visit to Nandigram Nov 28-30 last year by a fact-finding team, the report says that the state government authorities had not and were still not acting in an impartial manner despite the large scale human suffering in all corners of the violence-scarred region.

“What we saw during our two day visit was that the state officials are simply not doing enough to alleviate the suffering of the people, which is only spiralling mistrust of the people towards the government,” Vrinda Grover, who was a part of the fact finding team, told IANS.

“I met a woman in the hospital who was raped, and so were her two young daughters. Her daughters till date are missing and she is scared to go back to her home because those men are still roaming around scot-free and have threatened her with dire consequences,” Grover said.

“This is the condition in Nandigram. Women who have been sexually harassed have named the accused but nothing has been done. We have named those people in our report.”

In 2007, tensions over control of land in Nandigram led to a series of violent clashes between supporters of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and farmers belonging to the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC).

“As a result of the ensuing violence, more than 25 people have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced from their homes,” the report said.

“The solution does not lie in shifting the chemical hub somewhere else but in helping the people return to a life of normalcy which is not happening. There are no transfers or suspensions of the erring officials, no arrests of the accused, no evidence of the police seeking to arrest those named in the police complaints… nothing.

“We found that women who were at the forefront of the movement were the ones more sexually harassed. And in the failure of the state government in doing something about it, the gap between the people and the government is just increasing. This is a big threat to the economic development as well,” Grover said.

The report recommends the establishment of an impartial and independent inquiry into all the violence.

“The inquiry should include an investigation into the disappearance of persons, illegal possession of weapons by all non-state actors at Nandigram and the extent of impact of violence against women there. All the findings should be made public.

“There should also be a policy of adequate restitution, compensation and guarantees of non-repetition,” the report said.

S.N. Bhargava, former chief justice, High Court of Sikkim; Meenakshi Ganguly, senior South Asian researcher at Human Rights Watch; Mukul Sharma, director of Amnesty International India and Grover were part of the fact finding team.