Another Nandigram?: 40,000 farmers protest in West Bengal’s Bhangar against forcible land acquisition

Via Aabir Sumitran’s facebook post

More than 40,000 villagers are now protesting in Bhangar, West Bengal against the forceful installation of an electric power grid over their fertile agricultural lands.

The 400 kV power grid was constructed without consulting or taking into account the opinions of the local villagers. The agricultural land (about 80 bighas) was acquired from the villagers in 2014 by the ruling TMC party goons using force, sometimes at gunpoint. The villagers were forced to accept paltry compensation, which were tiny fractions of the standard market prices. The local police helped the goons in the acquisition process. Not only such a high voltage power grid in such a fertile agricultural land will destroy their livelihood, but will also destroy the local ecology of the water bodies in such a densely populated land.

The people from the villages in Bhangar, Deganga and Rajarhat region in South 24 Parganas have come out in the open, defying the Section 144 imposed on the entire region by the state government for the past few weeks. The TMC government has completely cut the power supply in the entire Bhangar area so that the news of the peoples protests’ cannot spread through the media. Rapid Action Force (RAF) battalions with guns, tear gas and water cannons are also ready to be used on the protesters.

The resentment among the villagers in the Bhangar region was brewing for the past few months and now, it has erupted into a full-fledged militant peoples’ movement. The movement is being democratically organised and led by the local villagers, mostly poor peasants, who have come under the banner of ‘Committee for the protection of land, livelihood and environment’ with solidarity from students, various left and democratic organisations, human rights groups and others, rejecting and resisting any form of hijacking of the mass movement by the mainstream parliamentary parties for sectarian electoral gains.

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