BHANGAR MOVEMENT CONTINUES TO ADVANCE

14 March 2018
A 3-DAY mass sit-in demonstration programme, under the leadership of the Jomi Jibika Bastutantro O Poribesh Raksha Committee (Committee for the Protection of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and Environment), which has been spearheading the anti power-grid movement in Bhangar, West Bengal, since the past year and a half, was successfully concluded on 23-25 February at Padmapukur. Thousands of villagers attended the 3-day programme as scores of political and social activists from across Kolkata arrived there to express solidarity with the anti power-grid movement.

Significantly, only a couple of days earlier, the state power minister, while answering questions raised by opposition MLAs in the Assembly, had claimed that the power-grid project had been stalled not due to any resistance by the villagers but because of the intervention of a handful of outsiders with malafide intentions. Opposition MLAs like Sujan Chakroborty of the CPM and Abdul Mannan of the Congress had, however, protested against the absurdity of this statement by pointing out that it was villagers who had been martyred in the course of the movement, villagers who had been arrested and villagers who were still facing numerous criminal charges. So it was obvious that the anti power-grid movement is a mass movement of the affected people and not a trumped-up show put up by a handful of outsiders.

Two days later, the thousands of villagers thronging the programme, participating in it with full vigour and repeatedly raising the demand for the withdrawal of the power-grid project from the densely populated, fertile multi-crop lands of Bhangor, proved to be a slap on the face of the power minister who had claimed that the villagers did not oppose the power-grid project.

The three-day programme was inaugurated by a recorded message by Comrade Pradip Singh Thakur, Polit Bureau member of CPI(ML) Red Star, who is barred from entering Bhangar as part of his bail condition. Over the three days, speakers included Abhash Munshi of MKP, CPI(ML) Liberation Central Committee member Kartik Pal, CPM leader and former MP Shamik Lahiri, RSP leader and former MP Manoj Bhattacharya, PDS leaders Anuradha Deb and Samir Putatunda, CPI(ML) Red Star West Bengal state committee leaders Gautam Chaudhuri and Murari Chatterjee; Dhiraj Sengupta from Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, Arunava Ganguly from Akranto Amra, Dipali Bhattacharya from Save Democracy, scientist Dr. Nisha Biswas, senior advocate and former mayor of Kolkata Bikashranjan Bhattacharya, advocate and former state women’s commission member Bharati Mutsuddi, poet Mandakranta Sen and many others.

Speakers on behalf of the Jomi Jibika Bastutantro O Poribesh Raksha Committee included spokesperson Alik Chakraborty, Kalu Sheikh, Shukur Ali, Sk Ajim, Kismat Ali and others. The speeches were interspersed with vibrant musical performances by a host of cultural groups. A documentary on the Bhangor movement, directed by Mitali Biswas, was also screened.

With this demonstration, the villagers of Bhangor have proved once again that police camps and state terror notwithstanding, Trinamool threats and coercion notwithstanding, malicious propaganda by the state govt. notwithstanding, the people will not allow the illegal Power Grid Project to come up on their land. 
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