Nandigram violence 2007 incident in Nandigram, West Bengal, India

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Former UN Attorney General Ramsay Clark visiting those affected by the violence

Violence occurred in Nandigram, East Midnapore, West Bengal, India, in 2007[1] in the aftermath of a failed project by the communist Government of West Bengal to acquire land for a special economic zone (SEZ).[1] The policy led to an emergency in the region, and 14 people died in a police shooting. Mamata Banerjee and her All India Trinamool Congress party noted the issue, and the slogan Ma Mati Manush (Mother, Motherland and People) was used in their election campaigns. The Central Bureau of Investigation later exonerated the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government of responsibility for the shootings.[2]


The SEZ controversy began when the government of West Bengal decided that a chemical hub would be established in a Nandigram SEZ by the Salim Group of Indonesia.[3][4] SEZ policy required the expropriation of 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) of land owned by farmers in the region. The farmers gathered under the Bhoomi Raksha Committee, which was backed by Maoists. While the governor was airborne and unavailable, police entered the Nandigram area. Violence between demonstrators and police left at least 14 villagers killed and 70 injured.[5]

The Maoist Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) blocked roads leading into the region from January to March 2007. Several FIRs were registered at the Nandigram and Khejuri police stations alleging arson and looting. The complaints could not be investigated by local police, who could not enter the villages during the standoff. Thousands of leftist supporters, attacked and driven from their homes, were housed in camps.[6]

After the villagers' protests against the acquisition of land in Nandigram for the proposed chemical hub, the state government yielded to the BUPC demands and announced the project's cancellation in early March 2007. A police team was sent to prevent protesters from digging up roads; one police officer was killed while trying to repair a road, and 12 others were seriously injured.

Events of 14 March 2007

The administration was directed to break up BUPC control of Nandigram, and an operation with over 3,000 police officers was launched on 14 March 2007. News of the impending action leaked to the BUPC, who amassed about 5,000 villagers at the entrances to Nandigram. In the resulting mayhem, at least 200 people were killed.[5]

The deaths in Nandigram sparked controversy about left-wing politics in India.[7] Federal police said that they had recovered many bullets of a type not used by police, but in widespread criminal use.[8] Few journalists could enter the area, their access being restricted by CPI(M) security checkpoints.[9] Two people from a news channel were briefly abducted.[10]

After the 14 March killings, volunteer doctors visited the Nandigram health centre, the district hospital at Tamluk and the SSKM Hospital and compiled a report.[11] In a press release, West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi criticized his government's handling of the Nandigram incident.


Long-time West Bengal finance minister and CPI(M) leader Ashok Mitra criticized the government and his party, accusing the party's leadership of hubris and calling the CPI(M) "a wide-open field of flatterers and court jesters" dominated by "anti-socials".[12] According to an Indian Express editorial, the party machinery had become the "sword arm of an industrialization policy that involves settling complicated property rights issues."[13] Some of the men who fired at the villagers but were not police officers were later caught by security forces and found to be working for the CPI(M).[5]

Novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay, friend of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, felt that industry was necessary but the state's violence was barbarous.[14] Social activist Medha Patkar visited Nandigram on 7 December 2006 to protest the land acquisition.[15]

The scale of the action stunned the state, and the All India Trinamool Congress estimated the death toll at 50. West Bengal Minister of Public Works Kshiti Goswami of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) said that 50 people were taken to hospital, but it was impossible to determine how many were dead.[16] CPI(M) members and supporters, and their families, were driven out of the area and their houses reportedly burnt by the BUPC. A week after the 14 March clashes, The Hindu estimated that about 3,500 persons had been displaced into relief camps as a result of BUPC threats.[17]

The CPI(M) adopted the position that land would not be acquired without the consent of the people of Nandigram. They accused the Jami Raksha Committee, a coalition of activists who opposed land acquisition, of armed attacks on relief camps which led to three deaths, a series of murders and a gang rape.[18] Amnesty International expressed concern that the West Bengal government had not taken the steps necessary to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction were protected from forced eviction and displacement and those who were forcibly displaced were ensured the minimum essential levels of food, shelter, water and sanitation, health care and education, with the right to voluntary return or resettlement and reintegration.[19]

The proposed SEZ was shelved after the 14 March police action.[20] On 3 September, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee expressed the government's preference for the sparsely-populated island of Nayachar, 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Haldia, to set up the chemical hub.[21][22]

November 2007 violence

A new round of violence occurred in November 2007 as the villagers who were displaced by the BUPC returned home. The return of the villagers was marred by violence between the ruling party cadres the BUPC cadre in Nandigram.[23] The CPI(M) defended the violence, with its state chairman calling it "a new dawn" and the chief minister describing it as "paying [the BUPC, Trinamool and maoists] back in their own coin".[24]

On 12 November 2007, the National Human Rights Commission directed the West Bengal chief secretary to submit a report on conditions in Nandigram within 10 days.[25] Film directors Aparna Sen and Rituporno Ghosh announced that they would boycott the Kolkata International Film Festival in protest of the renewed violence. Sen said, "Nandigram has become a slaughter house with blood being shed every day. CPM might be at the helm of affairs but the state still belongs to us".[26]

Parliament held an urgent discussion of Nandigram on 21 November 2007, suspending the regular question-hour sessions after two days of complete suspension of proceedings due to heated debates between CPI(M) and opposition-party members in both houses. CPI(M) was alienated in the issue by all the other ruling United Progressive Alliance allies considering the fierce nationwide sentiments against the massacre.[27]

2008 violence

In May 2008, fresh violence broke out between BUPC and CPI(M) supporters. Both sides exchanged fire and hurled bombs at each other.[28] On 5 May, CPI(M) supporters stripped three female BUPC activists after the women refused to join a CPI(M) rally.[29][30] The government ordered a CID West Bengal investigation of the incident.[31][32] CPI(M) leaders denied the allegation, saying that it was part of a defamation campaign by political rivals.[30] Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi demanded that the panchayat polls, scheduled for 11 May, be postponed due to the unrest. A number of intellectuals, including Aparna Sen from Kolkata, advocated the transfer of the officer in charge at Nandigram because of reported partisan behaviour.[33]

Electoral response

The electorate of Nandigram reacted against the government's policy of industrialization through farmland acquisition. For the first time since the Left Front government came to power, the opposition gained control of the East Midnapore zilla parishad by winning 35 out of 53 seats on 11 May 2008. The results were:

Trinamool candidates won all four seats of the Nandigram I and II blocks. Sheikh Sufian (a BUPC leader backed by the Trinamool) defeated rival CPI(M) candidate Ashok Jana by over 13,000 votes, and Pijush Bhunia (another Trinamool leader) defeated CPI(M) zonal-committee secretary Ashok Bera by over 2,100 votes.[34]

In the 2011 legislative-assembly election, incumbent chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee lost his seat and the Left Front lost power after 34 years. Mamata Banerjee and the All Indian Trinamool Congress used the Singur and Nandigram issues and their slogan, Ma Mati Manush, in their campaigns.[35] Firoza Bibi of the All India Trinamool Congress (whose son was killed by police in the violence) won the Nandigram assembly by-election with a margin of 39,551 votes, defeating Left Front candidate Paramananda Bharati.[36][37]

See also


  1. ^ a b "2007-Nandigram violence: A state of failure". India Today. 28 December 2009. Archived from the original on 15 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  2. ^ "CBI clean chit to Buddha govt on Nandigram firing". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Asia Week". Asia Week. Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Far Easter Economic Review October 1998". 8 October 1998. Archived from the original on 19 July 2002. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Stockpile squad trail heads towards party – Phone records spill Nandigram secret". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. 19 March 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  6. ^ Siddiqui, Imran (10 June 2007). "First trickle of a homecoming - 18 pro-CPM families back in Nandigram after five months". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 18 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Nandigram and the deformations of the Indian left". International Socialism. 2 July 2007. Archived from the original on 4 July 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  8. ^ "Questions over Bengal shootings". 26 March 2007. Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2007 – via
  9. ^ "Nandigram: Mediapersons roughed up by CPM activists". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 4 May 2007. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  10. ^ "". Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  11. ^ Medical Team Report from Nandigram with names, locations, and injuries – 5 April Archived 19 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "You are not what you were – Ashok Mitra after 14th November 2007". Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  13. ^ "Latest News, Breaking News India, Today Headlines, Election Results 2018 Live News - The Indian Express". Archived from the original on 20 March 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  14. ^ "Daily India". Archived from the original on 13 January 2008. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
  15. ^ "Latest news from India - India eNews". Archived from the original on 11 January 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  16. ^ "Nandigram turns Blood Red". The Economic Times. 15 March 2007. Archived from the original on 17 March 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  17. ^ "Nandigram victims narrate their tales of woe". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 21 March 2007. Archived from the original on 31 March 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  18. ^ "No Land Acquisition in Nandigram" (Press release). Communist Party of India (Marxist). 19 March 2007. Archived from the original on 3 July 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Report on Nandigram by Amnesty International: Urgent need to address large scale human rights abuses during Nandigram recapture". Archived from the original on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2008.
  20. ^ "DM halts land acquisition". The Statesman. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Nandigram's chemical hub shifted to Nayachar". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 14 January 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2007.
  22. ^ "Siliconeer: April 2007 - Real Estate Loans and Finance Special Issue". Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
  23. ^ Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay (24 November – 7 December 2007). "Return to Peace". Frontline. 24 (23). Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2007.
  24. ^ " Buddhadeb defends 'Nandigram takeover'". 19 June 2008. Archived from the original on 19 June 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  25. ^ "NHRC sends notice to Chief Secretary, West Bengal, on Nandigram incidents: investigation team of the Commission to visit the area". Archived from the original on 13 February 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  26. ^ "CPM cadres kill 3 in Nandigram". Archived from the original on 17 April 2008.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  27. ^ "Lok Sabha to discuss Nandigram today".[dead link]
  28. ^ Fresh violence in Nandigram, two injured Archived 8 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine. The Times of India. 5 May 2008.
  29. ^ CPM mob strips woman in Nandigram, probe on Archived 19 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine. The Times of India. 7 May 2008.
  30. ^ a b Women activists blame CPM of beating in Nandigram Archived 10 June 2019 at the Wayback Machine. The Economic Times. 7 May 2008.
  31. ^ CID probe ordered into stripping of women at Nandigram. Sify News. 7 May 2008.
  32. ^ Intellectuals Meet West Bengal Poll Panel Over Nandigram[permanent dead link]. News Post India. 7 May 2008.
  33. ^ Fresh attempt to cut off Nandigram Archived 10 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.The Hindu. 7 May 2007
  34. ^ [1] Archived 5 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine. The Statesman.
  35. ^ "Singur, Nandigram Were Way to Writers' for Mamata". Outlook. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  36. ^ "Nandigram nightmare continues for CPM, Trinamool wins Assembly bypoll - Indian Express".
  37. ^ "Nandigram - TopNews". Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2007.

External links

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