On 24th January, an AIPWA Fact Finding team went to Bhangar to talk with the women residing in the villages. The village roads were deserted, as many people chose to stay at home. The brick and tree log barricade were still there in the village, but some of the leaders of this movement against land grabbing told us that they wanted to remove the barricades today as it was an obstacle for their daily work. Since they were unable to go to work they could not earn anything.
The AIPWA team visited Sajida Bibi (name changed) who was a Victim of the incident on the 17th. She shared that the hooligans brutally beat her and threatened to rape her. She showed the bruises on her neck, back, hand and posterior. She said that presently none of the women were staying in the village after the evening as they are afraid of the hooligans. 20 more women concurred her statement. After talking with her, the team of AIPWA entered the village of Khamarait. This village is under the Trinamool Panchayat and the Panchayat Pradhan is Hakimul Islam, son of Arabul Islam. Villagers informed the team that on the night of the riot, the hooligans in police uniforms broke windows and roofs of houses and also tortured whoever they came across. They beat Panchayat member Saiful’s wife Rabeya bibi. We asked the villagers that if they had not wanted the Power Grid Corporation then why did they give their land. One youth named Sahil Mallick told that the Arabul gang almost snatched their land at gunpoint, they threatened them that if they raised their voice they would kill us. Afira bibi vented her anger against local party leaders -Arabul Islam and Rezzak Molla. “Mofijul Khan and Alam Mollah died in the firing and Rezzak says he will bring hybrid son? What type of leaders are they.? Arabul and Mamata Banerjee did this to us . Arabul is main Gunda here who took land at gunpoint.” Mamata Banerjee had won the people’s mandate and came to power in 2011 after her own involvement in 3 major agitations over forcible land acquisition against the former Left Front government, and now she herself is blaming outsiders for Bhangar violence. Villagers repeated their demand that the chief minister should visit Bhangar and personally announce that the controversial power grid would be relocated. One young lady told us that after this power grid we cannot sleep in the night.’ We are betrayed and tortured. Now for any emergency in the family, we will not be able to sell our land. nobody is buying our disputed land ‘. Old aged people are also very scared. One aged lady said, “I am unable to run every day. What will happen to us? We don’t know what to do?” Mamata Banerjee who always is portraying her party as a farmer friendly and poor friendly party, declared that the Trinamool Congress government will track and hunt down all political activists who were involved in the Bhangar land movement, which resulted in the brutal killing of two villagers by the police guided by the strong man Arabul Islam.
AIPWA assured villagers that they were with them in the fight and the will continue the fight till people get Justice.
AIPWA has demanded:
1. Judicial Enquiry of Firing in Bhangar and the murders of Alamgir and Maffizul
2. Unconditional Release of Sharmistha Choudhury, Pradip Singh Thakur and all other arrested agitators, and withdrawal of all cases slapped on them
3. Punish all the police and the TMC goons who entered peoples’ homes in Bhangar and created an atmosphere of Terror.
4. Ensure the Safety of all villagers including women and Children.
5. Immediately Arrest and Punish Trinamool Strong man Arabul Islam
6. Rezzak Molla should apologise in Public for saying “hybrid son”
7. The Power Grid and the Electrical Sub-Station must not be built without democratic and legal Procedures