Mandasaur farmer agitation brings back the ghost of Nandigram

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The farmer protest at Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh and the police firing in which 6 persons were killed brings back memories of the 2007 Nandigram protes. It was the year 2007 and the police fired on farmers who were protesting the take over of their land at Nandigram in East Midnapore district of West Bengal.

Nandigram became the symbol of the farmer protest. The stir continued until 2011 until the Left rule of 24 years in West Bengal came to an end. The intensity of the protest was so high and action by the police so high-handed that Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi said in a statement to the media that the news of the violence filled him with "cold horror".

Mandasaur farmer agitation brings back the ghost of Nandigram

Locals had assembled in Sonachura to resist the government. Yatras were organised and farmers read from religious books to keep their morale high. The police broke through the make-shift blockades violence began. Fourteen people were killed and over 70 injured. The allegation was that the CPI(M) cadres had helped the police carry this dreaded atrocity.

West Bengal was never the same again. The Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI probe and protests broke out on the streets. Intellectuals who sympathised with the Left too raised questions about the manner in which the protest was handled.

The protest began after then Chief Minister of WB Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, struck a deal with the Indonesian Salim Group to build a chemical factory. This was strongly resisted by the farmers as their lands were set to be acquired. Early signs of a protest brewing were there in Singur, but the government ignored it.

The CM however was desperate for investment and pushed ahead despite protests. On January 2, 2007, the Haldia Development Authority issued a preliminary notice that it wanted to acquire 14,500 acres over 27 mouzas. On January 3, more than 1,000 people gathered to protest. The government however was adamant. It went ahead with its plans.

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