TATA-FIATS SMALL CAR HAS KILLED LIFE &
LIVELIHOOD IN SINGUR
CAR DISPLAYED WITH ELEGANCE, WHILE HUNDREDS PROTESTS WITH ANNOYANCE
Speakers at Press Conference at Press Club – Medha Patkar,Anuradha Talwar, and people from Singur
The House of Tatas were voted to be the 3rd most transparent and accountable corporation in the world by the One World Trust on 20 December 2007. Three days earlier Shankar Patra (45) of Khaser Bheri hung himself in his cow shed. This has been the fourth suicide in the project affected villages where land has been taken over for the one lakh rupee worth small & cheap car project of TATA-FIAT consortium
Besides a huge number of people who were injured in police baton charges and teargas shell firing, there have been 7 deaths so far in Singur. These include the gang rape and murder of Tapasi Mullick, the death due to police atrocities of young Raj Kumar Bhul, the starvation death of Bimala Khamaru and three other suicides. In repeated police action large numbers of people have been arrested for protesting against the Tata-Fiat project. In 3 incidents alone up to 4 February 2007, 153 people were arrested, 54 among them being women. The police have consistently refused to give them custody memos and have filed a large number of false cases against them. There has also been an attempt to terrorise people by continuous bombings and police patrolling at night. The state machinery has consistently furthered the interest of the Tatas & the Italian company FIAT International by using brutal state power. The Government of West Bengal is wooing the government & multinationals of Italy for huge investment in many sectors for the state and hence the Singur project was pushed in utter violation of human rights, UN Conventions as also manuals & codes of conducts publicized by both TATAS & FIAT Internationals.
Many of the workers and their families are complaining today of hunger, loss in income and indebtedness. Officials of the West Bengal Industrial Development Industrial Corporation have tried to bribe the agricultural workers with promises of free houses, better roads etc. The workers have so far rejected their promises, asking them instead to guarantee them work for 11 months a year, the amount of work they used to get on the land taken over for the Tata Motors Project. Till today the farmers of Singur (owning about 400 acres) have refused to take cheques and part with their land. TATA Motors as well as the left front government of West Bengal have neither shown the sensitivity nor the courage to hold a dialogue with the agitators, united as Krishi Jamee Raksha Committee (Farmland Protection Committee). They have neither consulted the Gram Panchayat nor the Gram Sabhas and have stuck to the plan of occupying the best of multiple crop agricultural land of Singur, inspite of the decision of the UPA government (April 2007) against this practice.
The project is pushed ahead and no doubt all the land (1000 acres) is today occupied, but not yet fully used. Infact, the expert opinion is that the project could manage with maximum 350 acres, while the extra land is being grabbed by the TATAS, as in other states such as Orissa & Kerala, The car displayed in the Auto-expo in New Delhi today, however, is not manufactured at Singur, but was produced at the TATAS factory in Pune district. It is thus clear that the peoples’ struggle is still on and determines to save their right to land, livelihood and democratic participation in development planning.
It is encouraging to note that the International Metal Workers Union including the unions of FIAT workers and various other peoples organisation, movements & intellectuals as also some Members of Parliament have protested against FIAT’s involvement in the project with violation of human rights.
In Singur, today protest actions are on by KJRC and supporting organisations such as PVKMU, NAPM, and other students organisations.
While the Singur farmers and agricultural workers are tethered at the brink of ruin, Tata Motors reported a rise in its consolidated revenue in the first half of 2007-08 at Rs.15836.51 crores, an increase of 9.56%. It is obvious that Singur plant which is a part of the larger small car project of TATA-FIAT is a result of Corporate Social Irresponsibility. All the concerned citizens and the people’s organisations must question both TATAS & FIAT International as well as the state government of West Bengal on state sponsored violence and injustice unleashed on the people of Singur. The beautiful and highly publicized cars thus have stains of blood of the toiling people of Singur which may be noted by those who would jump to have at their door step.
To stop the State cum Tatas sponsored violence and injustice unleashed on the people of Singur
We Demand from the Tatas:
- An immediate stop to the project till all issues related to it can be discussed clearly with the persons affected
- Land be returned to all farmers who have not accepted cheques, and to farmers who want to return their cheques, as they had accepted them under duress
- Land must be returned in its original condition and farmers must be paid compensation for crop loss from the date of forcible fencing
- The families of those who were compelled to commit suicide and of Taposi Mullick, must be compensated immediately.
- For all agricultural workers and unregistered share croppers who have suffered loss due to the project, a proper mutually agreed upon rehabilitation package , including guaranteed employment.
- The police force must be withdrawn from Singur and intimidation through CPM party cadres must be stopped.
National Alliance of People’s Movements; Delhi Solidarity Group INSAF Pashchim Banga Khet Mazdoor Union (Affiliated to New Trade Union Initiative)
Contacts – Sridevi: 9868099304 & Rakhi: 9911599955