Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bengal flood victims also pressed into CPM’s anti-US service

Old news. People from flood affected areas of Bengal were herded off to protest "US imperialism" during a joint US-Indian air excercise in Midnapore.

Bengal flood victims also pressed into CPM’s anti-US service (Indian Express, Nov 06, 2005)

Excerpt:


When a 150,000-strong Left mob demonstrates outside the Kalaikunda airbase here for a planned four hours on Monday, many thousands of participants will be victims of Midnapore’s devastating floods a fortnight ago.

For them, the journey from shattered hutments and devastated paddy fields to a protest against George W. Bush’s foreign policy will be a party-dictated compulsion.

District CPI(M) leaders have issued instructions that not only must people turn up, they must pay Rs 10 each for expenses. “This is a policy of the improved Left,’’ says Madan Mohan Karan, gram panchayat member, “earlier we used to take them for free, provide food ... When it pinches them, it adds worth to such participation.’’

Said Dipak Sarkar, district secretary of West Midnapore, who is coordinating the protest: “West Midnapore has been given a target of 1 lakh supporters and East Midnapore has been given a target of 35,000.” East Midnapore is where the floods were the worst.

A visit to villages two days before the rally shows that even those hit by floods in late October were not spared the ‘‘mobilisation target’’. No less than 35,000 demonstrators are required from the flood-hit areas of East Midnapore — Egra, Contai, Bhagabanpur, Heria and Tamluk. In neighbouring West Midnapore, inundated areas like Ghatal, Sabong and Pingla are not exempt from anti-America duty.

Sabong, 45 km from Kalaikunda, is a case in point. A CPI(M) zonal committee member, Amalesh Basu, admitted rather reluctantly that the party’s district leadership had set him a target of 1,000.

In Basu’s words, 11 of 13 anchals (clusters of villages) covered by the Sabong zonal office were hit by floods on October 19, destroying 5,000 houses and affecting 160,000 people.

‘‘But sending 1,000 people from these areas is not difficult,’’ says Basu, ‘‘the zonal committee is sure to exceed the target and send not less than 3,000 ... because of the positive response against US imperialism and the joint military exercise.’’ ...

Tags: CPM

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