“Funny to get ‘outsider’ label from Mamata Banerjee”: Alik Chakraborty
She contested the ‘outsider’ theory when CPI(M) leaders accused her of being an outsider in Singur and Nandigram, pointed out the Bhangar land agitation leader.kolkata Updated: Feb 25, 2017 12:50 IST
The special task force of the CID has been desperately looking for Alik Chakraborty, a politburo member of small Naxalite outfit CPI(ML)(Red Star) and the face of movement in Bhangar against a power grid, since violence broke out at Bhangar five weeks ago. Booked under provisions of the UA(P)A, Chakraborty has been evading the police while organising the movement through his network. The leader in his mid-40s spoke exclusively to HT from an undisclosed location.
Despite being a leader of a registered political outfit, you have been virtually living underground for about a month. How would you describe the situation?
Our party does not endorse violence and we have always worked staying within the legal system. But the Mamata Banerjee government seems to allow no space for democratic means of protest. Otherwise, how would you describe booking leaders of a political party, who have no links whatsoever with any banned organisation, under provisions of the UA(P)A? A total of 36 persons have been booked under UA(P)A. Apart from two of our arrested leaders (Pradip Singh Thakur and Sharmistha Chowdhury) and myself, the others are common people. The government’s undemocratic approach has forced me to evade the law for the sake of the movement. Had it not been for the need of the movement, I would have surrendered before court.
The chief minister has said that action should be taken only against outsiders who instigated local people.
It’s indeed funny to hear the theory of ‘outsider’ from Mamata Banerjee who herself had contested this theory when the CPI(M) accused her of being an outsider in Singur and Nandigram.
Are you open to discussions?
Locals always wanted the government to talk to them but were never heeded. Moreover, the chief minister’s words and deeds lack consistency. One the one hand, she is making public statement asking the administration to ensure that no local resident of Bhangar is harmed and on the other, nine Bhangar residents, including a boy who is to appear in higher secondary exams the next month, are languishing in jail for five weeks because they have been booked under a law generally used against terrorists.
Are there chances of further violence?
The movement gained momentum more than three months ago and there has been only one day of violence – some police vehicles were vandalised – but that too after two persons were killed in firing suspected to be by the police. Further, the police were accompanied by Trinamool-backed goons. One month has passed since that day and there has not been a single incident of violence.
What is your next plan of action?
Since the chief minister has publicly said that the power grid project will be scrapped if people of Bhangar did not want it, we have launched a signature campaign. Nearly 10,000 signatures were collected between February 20 and 23. The campaign will go on for another week. By early March, the signatures endorsing the statement that the people do not want the project will be submitted to her.
Do you expect the government to respond?
We’ll pursue all democratic means. We’ll conduct a public hearing on April 4 and 5 where eminent personalities, including retired judges and scientists would participate.
Till then, do you intend to stay underground?