In a role reversal, the CPI-M, which has espoused many people's causes along with civil rights groups, was at the receiving end on Thursday when several prominent rights activists condemned the party on the Singur issue accusing it of "double standards".
Social activist and author Arundhati Roy, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and journalist Sumit Chakrabarti were among many others who demonstrated outside the CPI-M party office in the capital to protest the atrocities being committed on the people of Singur in West Bengal where the Left Front government seeks to acquire their land for an automobile plant of the Tata industrial group.
Deploring the state government's move to put Singur virtually under siege by the police who were accused of subjecting the residents, including women, to brutal violence, they demanded that Tatas be given an alternate site on a wasteland or industrial area.
"In Kalinganagar (site for steel plant by South Korean company Posco) and Narmada Valley, the CPI-M was with us in protesting against the authorities' move to displace people by forcibly acquiring their land. Now, they are doing the same thing in West Bengal,"lamented Arundhati Roy.
She expressed concern over the fact that what was happening in Singur was merely a part of a larger phenomenon that was taking place all over the country in places like Kalinganagar and Narmada Valley where the poor and landless being displaced from their homes in the name of development and industrialisation.
Charging the CPI-M with "double standards", Supreme Court senior advocate Prashant Bhushan pointed out that the party was opposing the UPA government's move for land acquisition to set up special economic zones (SEZs). "One can't understand how they can do it for the Tatas. It's the same thing," he stated.
"The time has come for us to say no to this vulgar phenomenon of compulsory acquisition of prime agricultural land for industry which is being witnessed in India," Bhushan asserted demanding an amendment in the law for the purpose.
Veteran socialist leader Surendra Mohan described as "state sponsored terrorism" the act of acquiring land without giving peasants any opportunity to say anything.
Bharati Das, a woman resident of Singur, showed media persons the injuries she received when the police beat her up while forcibly evicting her from her house on December 2. She said she refused to part with her land as she depended upon it for her livelihood.