India – communists turn unpopular over SEZ plans

Published on IPS.org, by Sujoy Dhar, November 12, 2007.

KOLKATA, Nov 12 (IPS) – When acclaimed filmmaker Aparna Sen refused to participate in a state-run film festival, that began on the weekend, it was a sign of how alienated Bengali intellectuals have become from a programme of economic reforms undertaken by Marxists who have ruled West Bengal state for 30 years.

Monday saw West Bengal paralysed by a general strike called to protest the killings of at least six villagers in Nandigram, as they fought well-armed cadres of the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) they believed were after their land.

Last week’s killings at Nandigram, located about 150 km south of the provincial capital of Kolkata, were only the latest in a series of clashes, between the villagers and CPI-M cadres backed by the state police, since January over the provincial government’s plans to acquire land for a special economic zone (SEZ).

Violence in Nandigram has now claimed 34 lives since January and forced the state government to scrap plans for the SEZ. But, a turf battle has raged on in the village between the CPI-M, which leads the Left Front government in West Bengal, and the Bhumi Uchched Pratriodh Committee (BUPC), a local group formed to resist land acquisition … (full text).

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