Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sambhu Singh sleeps in his broken home in defiance

December 28, 2008

Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati

Sambhu Singh and his brother has now spent three nights in the rubble of their former home, taking turns to sleep on their own broken-down door, with a blanket bought by the money contributed by the people. The South City management put up a notice on the remains of their home, stating “unsafe, entry prohibited”. It is ironic that it is the same South City management who made the place, a home for a family, unsafe in the first place. It is public pressure that has maintained the position of Sambhu Singh in his home till now, but we don’t know how long that will be possible. Legal options are being explored, but nothing much can be done till 2nd January, when the courts are going to reopen after the winter vacation. South City cunningly selected this time to perpetrate this crime.
On 27th December, the CPI(M) controlled Nagarik Samiti, also held a meeting in “support” of Sambhu Singh, and condemned the people who have been with him from the beginning of the struggle as “naxalites”. I guess it isn’t very surprising, but this complicates the situation further. Today, Sunday, 28th December, there is another public protest in front of South City which everyone is invited to attend.


December 29, 2008:

You have no future: CPIM’s Nagarik Committee pressurizes Mr. Singh, intervenes in favour of big capital
Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati

There have been ominous developments yesterday, that has again exposed the face of the CPI(M) as the agent of big capital.
In my last update I had mentioned that the CPI(M) controlled Nagarik Committee had organized a meeting on 27th December, ostensibly to support Sambhu Singh. On 28th December, leaders of the Nagark Samiti that included CPI(M) local committee members, compelled Sambhu Singh to go into a negotiation with South City management. Even though Sambhu Singh had been advised by us to only go if accompanied by his lawyer, he was not allowed to call his lawyer. In the negotiations, in presence 93 Ward Nagarik Committee members Amber Roy Choudhary, Pelab Mukherjee, Parimal Bhattacharya, Jayanta Poddar, Arun Agarwal and Tarun Mistry, Sambhu was threatened by Sushil Mohta and Man Mohan Bagree of South City that he had nothing in favour of him and he had no way to survive if he tried to stay back in his house.
The Nagarik Committee members supported this and persuaded him to arrive at a settlement with South City. Finally overwhelmed by these threats, Sambhu caved in, and signed on a non-legal agreement with South City, where he has agreed to give up possession all claims to his house, withdraw civil and criminal cases against South City, and accept that he has himself removed all his belongings (all of which was looted by South City’s hired security) from his premises.
All this in return of a paltry Rs 4 lakhs (4,00,000), when the actual vaulation of the space occupied by Sambhu Singh’s house is around ten times more!
There is no compensation, not even an acknowledgement, of the illegal assault on his family and their eviction.
This is a repetition of what is a common procedure in Bengal. South City realized that it was in a very bad sitaution after committing this illegal act and from the resultant public backlash, which they hadn’t expected would be there. In order to save them from this situation, appeared the CPI(M). Repeating what it had done when the workers of the Usha factory were originally thrown out of their jobs, it acted as agent and broker, allowing the corporation to get away with paying a pittance as compensation, victimising the poor worker.
Irrespective of the outcome regarding Sambhu Singh, it has been decided that the protests against South City would be intensified. Armed with this direct evidence of the Nagarik Committee’s heinous intervention in the matter, the struggle would be directed against the corporations and their agent and broker, the CPI(M)


December 30, 2008:

Sambhu Singh fights back yet again

Sambhu Singh decided yesterday that he would fight back against South City and CPI(M) by lodging a complaint that he was made to sign on the plain paper agreement against his will and under compulsion.

Source: http://sanhati.com/excerpted/1183/#7

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sambhu Singh vs. South City: the battle against corporate retail and real estate in a microcosm

Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati.

Since December 25, something is happening in Kolkata which might turn into a major battle against corporate retail and real estate.
Many of you, who are from or have stayed in Kolkata, know about the huge South City complex (company logo: Live the way the world does), consisting of the largest mall in Kolkata and a huge residential complex consisting of 4 tower buildings. The complex has come up on the grounds of the erstwhile Usha Engineering works, a factory employing around 7000 people, which was shut down and the land handed over to South City. The workers were all thrown out and their living quarters were demolished.
Their story is one of the little known tragedies of the process of “development” , one of the facets of which is the conversion of urban industrial land into real estate. Anyway, the mall came up in a very questionable process, filling up a huge water body (Bikramgarh jheel), and is now a major source of traffic congestion in the area.
What I didn’t know was that a single worker, Sambhu Prasad Singh, had decided to fight it out! His is an epic story. He had challenged his retrenchment by Usha Engineering in court, and had stayed back in the workers quarters with his brother, the latter’s wife and their 10 year old son. Disregarding threats by South City, he had stayed on amidst the construction going on around him. He was staying in the workers’ qaurters all of which had been torn down leaving only his rooms, as there was a stay order from the court. In this situation the family had stayed on and struggled, sending the son to a good school and living a life of dignity. Their struggle was being documented by a film maker, Ranu Ghosh, who had been closely following their lives for the past 10 years. Some of her postings are at: https://mail.sarai.net/pipermail/reader-list/2007-July/009568.html and https://mail.sarai.net/pipermail/reader-list/2007-July/009568.html. You might find moreabout it if you do a search on internet.
Yesterday (25th December) morning, I received a call from a reporter at one of the Bengali TV channels, who told me that something horrible had happened to the family of Sambhu, but his channel and other media wouldn’t report on it as South City was involved. I informed Samik Chakrabarty, one of our Sanhati comrades, and both of us immediately rushed to the spot.
We found out that on 24th evening, when the city was taken up in Christmas eve fever, and the two men (Sambhu and his brother) were away from home, security guards of South City, under the direction of their security chief and property manager, had broken down their door, come in and tied the hands and feet of the mother and the 10 year old son, assaulted them and thrown them out on the streets. Then they had looted all their belongings, loaded it on a truck and taken it away somewhere. Then they had broken down the roof and the stairs leading up to their 1st floor house, practically rendering it uninhabitable. The two men came back late at night and found them out on the streets. Then they called up Ranu and she went there immediately.
From 25th morning, the battle started. We went to the Jadavpur police station and lodged a FIR. The police stated that it was a patently illegal act to evict sometime when the case is sub-judice, but they cannot put them back inside their home. However, they said that they have the right to stay in their home. Many activists, organizations and media had been informed by then, and some activists, from organizations such as FAMA started coming in.
During the day, we also found that the police inspector came in a jeep and entered the premises. After some time we came to know that people were demolishing what remained of the house of the worker inside the premises. We realized that they were trying to demolish the house in order to make it a fait accompli, so that there would be no hope of proving Sambhu Singh’s right to the place.
By that time some faculty of Jadavpur University and members of the intellectuals and cultural workers association had also arrived. We decided that we would try to enter the site and if prevented we would start a demonstration. As we tried to enter, the security guards set up a cordon infront of the gate and their head said that he wouldn’t allow us to enter. We insisted on the right of Sambhu Singh and us to enter and we went into a heated altercation with the security guards. People started collecting and soon there was a huge crowd. We had called the students of Jadavpur university and they, notably from the student organization PDSF, arrived. Soon they were joined by other students. It became an impropmtu public meeting.
Meanwhile, the authorities tried to move out the workers who had been breaking down house in a Tata Sumo. We blocked its exit and it turned tail and fled in another direction. We had also called up the local councillor, Mr. Ratan Dey of Trinamool Congress, and he also turned up after some time. When he came,some of us accompanied him and entered the site. We found that the house had nearly been completely demolished with its roof, the walls and the staircase completely destroyed. After sometime more people, accompanied by reporters of some TV channels entered.
We then decided that Sambhu Singhu would be staying inside there, in order to prove his right to live at that site. It was also decided that a protest meeting, where everybody would participate, would be held outside South City mall on 26th December. It was a partial victory as we had been able to reinstate Sambhu Singh in his house, which was rightfully his. He and his brother somehow managed to spend the night in that broken down house.
On 26th morning, I again accompanied Sambhu Singh, his brothers wife and her son, together with some activists from a local citizen’s forum and a lawyer to the police station. The woman lodged a detailed complaint and also added a list of her belongings that have been looted. The police now were quite hostile, unlike the previous day and tried to harrass and intimidate us. In the evening a public meeting, attended by around 500 people started infront of the gates of South City mall. Nearly all organizations and activists of Kolkata participated. Different student organizations participated. The students put up posters, distributed leaflets and talked to people, including customers who were coming to the mall. Some students stood with posters in front of the main door of the mall informing people about the incident and appealing to them to boycott South City.
It was a demonstration the likes of which South City has never seen before.
As you can understand, this will be a long battle. We have to explore all the legal options in front of Sambhu Singh and his family. It is difficult now as South City chose a time when the court is in vacation. Another protest meeting is planned for Sunday. People want to continue this protest against this grossly unjust and illegal act. I request everyone to express their solidarity and support for this movement which has started as a battle of justice for a wronged person but which is taking up the nature of a battle against corporate retail and real estate and their land-grabbing in the urban centres.

Source: http://sanhati.com/excerpted/1183/

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Defeat War Conspiracy; Build Up Anti-imperialist Unity Among The People of India And Pakistan

After heinous terror strike in Mumbai, both the neighbouring states, India and Pakistan are roaring. India has been accusing Pakistan of being involved in the Mumbai terror strike and the Pakistan state machinery does not accept it. Meanwhile both of them prepare themselves for a war--- Pakistan gradually moves its military forces towards Indo-Pak border and India has already made its forces alert.

We, the common people of both India and Pakistan are fully aware from our past experiences that war cannot make any better in our daily life, instead the huge expenses of war has to be borne by the common people. Whenever the exploiting classes of this subcontinent find themselves in difficult situation, get involved in war with the nationalist propaganda. Right now the financial crisis of the imperialist system has proved that capitalism-imperialism does not have any future. It cannot solve the problems of providing basic needs to all human beings. Extraction of maximum profit, which drives the imperialist production, actually throws huge number of people out of his market everyday and thereby increases poverty. India and Pakistan, neo-colonial type semi-colonies, which supply cheap labour and the raw materials to the imperialist and comprador capitalists, cannot be out of this crisis. Already, the export oriented industries of India is at stake and as a remedy it has started to cut its work force short. Obviously, this will shorten the internal market and soon the crisis will engulf other sectors.

In this context it is very easy to understand that the socio-political unrest followed by anti-imperialist movement which is going to storm over this subcontinent in near future will be beyond the control parliamentary politicians. The leadership of these struggles will be eventually in the hand of real communist revolutionaries. In order to divert the point of attention of the people, to weaken the anti-imperialist revolutionary consciousness and unity among the people, the state machineries of both the countries have therefore to spread the backward ideas like communalism, chauvinism etc. No doubt, to serve their purpose they have different forces, whose activities have been reflected into the blasts of different places all over the sub-continent that killed numerous people. Under this backdrop, the war mongers of two countries are all set to start a fresh war, provoking people to get satisfaction from the killings of innocents at the other side of the border.

We condemn this war preparation.
We are against any fratricidal war.

We believe that the progressive and democratic forces of India and Pakistan will fight at their level best to resist this war-conspiracy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bush shoe attack a big hit online

An Iraqi journalist’s shoe attack on George Bush has spawned a number of online video games. And their popularity is growing by the hour, reflecting in part the universal loathing the outgoing US President commands.
In one virtual game, players of Bush’s Boot Camp take on the role of a gun-toting security agent and must shoot shoes out of the air before they can hit the hapless President.
In another, players are invited to take aim at Bush, even as he bobs and weaves on the podium. At the end of this game, every successful player is greeted with a flashing message: YES YOU CAN!
TV reporter Muntadar al-Zaidi was tackled to the ground by Secret Service personnel after he started throwing his shoes at Bush. The footwear missed Bush, who ducked, but Zaidi was bundled out yelling: “This is a farewell kiss, you dog.”
Footage of the attack has been viewed over half a million times on video-sharing site YouTube. “If you watch the clip, the Secret Service don’t move to protect Bush until the second shoe’s been thrown,” said Sadi Chishti of T-Enterprise, the company behind the game.
As Zaidi’s fame in the Muslim world grows, an Arab channel reported that a Saudi citizen had offered $10 million to buy the shoes.
However, for the muchreviled Bush, it was just another incident in a long tenure marked by his choking on words, and pretzels. “I don’t know what the guy’s cause is, I didn’t feel the least bit threatened by it,” the US President joked with mediapersons.

Video: Iraqi Journalist Throws Shoe at Bush

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Leaflet On Lalgarh Resistance

Fllowing is a bengali leaflet published by People's Committee Against Police Repression: