It’s time. Jangalmahal needs justice. The area has been denied justice and deprived of all benefits of civilisation for a very long time. As I was writing this piece, television channels were abuzz with the news that chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee would resign. It makes no difference if he quits now. He should have done so long ago.
The CPI(M) has finally been defeated. In the last 34 years, they did nothing for the welfare of the poor.
Banerjee has won because of people’s blessings. She should not waste time to initiate development schemes for Jangalmahal.
I don’t wish anything magical to happen to the people of Jangalmahal. I just want to see that people living there enjoy the rights and benefits assured by the Constitution.
Jangalmahal has no drinking water, irrigation, roads and health infrastructure. Everything needs to be taken care of, now.
First, security forces have to be withdrawn. Their presence is ruining normal life besides costing the state exchequer extensively. The government is using the money, allotted for the area’s development, to feed paramilitary forces. This has to stop. Banerjee should immediately arrange for drinking water and irrigation facilities in Jangalmahal. She should develop roads and ensure that no police or paramilitary force is posted in schools and health centres.
The CPI(M) regime even deprived the rural people of electricity. The condition is worse for those who don’t have ration cards, without which they cannot buy kerosene at subsidised rates. I hope Mamata will look into it.
Then comes the question of meeting the demands of the Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities. A lot of people keep on asking me whether Mamata should initiate talks with them. I feel their demands should be fulfilled. PCAPA’s demands are just. The government should accept it. Once that happens, the real peace process in Jangalmahal will begin.
Magsasay award winner Mahasweta Devi is a writer and social activist