Gone are the days when industrialists who want to set up industries approached the government to acquire the land, forcibly if need be, and hand it over to them. People are becoming more aware and are more organised. The govt has burnt its fingers trying to forcibly acquire land. Kalinganagar, Singur, Nandigram are good examples. Now the govt is telling the industrialists to buy or lease the land on their own.
So the capitalist owning class is devising new ways of acquiring the land of the farmers. Blatant terror tactics will not do. The land owners have to be persuaded into giving their land. The process of dividing consists of the following steps:
1) Identify some discontented young men in the village community and entice them with money and promise of employment in the company. It is not hard to find such young men in any situation. They are usually a little educated, but are unemployed and loitering about. They are generally dissatisfied with society but would not be willing to play any constructive role towards the solution of the problems their village community faces. They also realize that in today’s society money is what counts finally.
They are also sufficiently alienated from agrarian economy to the extent they will not do agriculture- related work in their own fields. There is no such thing as any emotional attachment to their land. And in the case of Adivasi communities, these young men do not have any regard or respect towards the traditional Adivasi leadership and do not abide by the opinion of the elders of the village community. Such persons are given motor cycles cum daily allowance by the companies, and are told to play an active role in the process of land acquisition. So they become the first persons who agree to give their land to the company. Thus the first step in dividing the village community is completed.
2) The rest of the village community can be divided into two broad categories: the silent majority who in their heart of heart do not want to give their land to the company but feel powerless to frontally confront the very powerful company, the administration, the police. Also they do not have much idea about the company, nature of the project, impact on environment, details of compensation, quality of rehabilitation etc. In other words, this is the section of the population which can be swayed and persuaded to part with their land. The company starts to work on them. The company people know that these simple people must be nurtured to accept the project and agree to be displaced. Feelers are sent through the already purchased young men who by now become the middle men between the company and the people. Some of people’s needs in the area of health and education facilities are identified. The company sends a few officers hailing from the area who together with the young men assemble the people and make tall promises about the wonderful rehabilitation they will have when they give their land for the project. The company also offers to build, equip and run primary schools, small hospitals, community halls, install hand pumps etc. at its own cost. Better rates of compensation for land & property than what the govt itself would give are promised. One company job per household is assured. In brief, heaven on earth is promised to people. Liberal offers are made to take groups of these people to far away places where this very company has rehabilitated the displaced people so beautifully that they are supposed to be better off now than they were ever before.
Gradually over a period of time, an increasing number of these farmers are no more opposed to giving their land to the company. In this way, the initial resistance begins to weaken. Thus the second step in dividing the village community is completed.
3) There then remain a smaller but awakened and vocal group who are against the project and the company. They are attached to their land, and in the case of Adivasi communities they consider their land not only as the main source of sustenance but also as a sacred heritage of their forefathers and the dwelling place of their spirits. They are also aware about the companies which want to set up projects in their midst thus alienating their land and displacing them. They have come to realise that the companies invest not for the development of people but for profit and only profit. Experience tells them the industrialists are not to be trusted. Hence they would say loud and clear that they will not give their land to the companies on any count.
Let us see how the industrialists tackle this group.
The industrialists know very well that this section of the village community cannot be persuaded to surrender their land. Rather, these outspoken persons have to be dealt with in a stern way. Detailed planning is done with the local administration, local police, already bought off young men as to how to neutralise these men who are passionately opposing the project. Which of them can be frightened by what action. If they will not be frightened, how to implicate them in false cases so they can no more be on the scene. There are instances in Jharkhand where the leaders of resistance movements were booked under non-bailable cases and some of them were jailed for several months as the lower courts refused bail and recourse to the High Court took more than a year just to get bail. Even the traditional elderly Adivasi leaders were accused of serious crimes such as attempt to murder, rape etc. The young activists protesting against the project were brought to a situation where they could not even go to the weekly bazaars for fear of being arrested and could not take a bus to go somewhere for fear of being picked up by the police or be physically assaulted by the goondas hired by the company.
In the mean while the industrialists busy themselves organising face-saving ‘public hearings’ from which these troublesome elements can be kept away, and work out the dynamics of getting the approval for the project. And once it is done, it is announced in the media that the people have not only approved the project but have welcomed it and are ready & willing to give their land for the project. Thus the third step in dividing the village community is completed.
Finally there are instances where the affected people have not allowed any division among them and have consistently stood together in solidarity in resisting the project. Such extraordinary situations need extraordinary solutions. This is where the collaboration of the state govt, local administration, police force is important. We then witness ‘state terrorism’ in its most ugly form. Koel Karo (Tapkara) police firing in 2001 at an unarmed peaceful crowd killing eight persons and injuring several is an unforgetable example. Kalinganagar firing in 2005 killing eleven persons wherein the Tata Co went to the spot not only with its bull-dozers but also accompanied by 11 platoons of armed police provided by the state govt.
This is the ultimate, calculated blow to people’s resistance to industrial projects aimed at displacing people and alienating their land.
From all that is said above, it is not to be concluded that people have lost the battle. Increasingly they are becoming aware of the manipulations of the industrialists. People will soon develop their own strategies to remain united and definitively refuse to give their agricultural land to industrialists. It will then be the task of others with a human conscience to stand by the struggling farmers in support and solidarity.
Jharkhand Online Network