The Nandigram story is being repeaed in Andhra Pradesh. As in Nandigram and nearby villages of West Bengal, there is strong opposition in villages around Kakinada in AP to the proposal to set up a special economic zone. And the auithorities are resorting to repression to overcome the people's resistance.
According to information provided by a credible human rights organization, the U Kothapalli and Thongdangi Mandals of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh have witnessed state terrorism during the past three days. Revenue authorities, assisted by the police and goons mobilized by estate agents who hasve been buying land on behalf of the proposed SEZ authorities, have been trying to erect fences there.
The authorities are said to be threatening pr using force against the people and spreading false information among them to compel them to sell their lands. Farmers have been opposing attempts to take over their lands.
In September 2007, the farmers were able to foil a similar effort. They succeeded then in getting an order from the State Human Rights Commission asking the government not to use coercive methods to acquire land. The order was issued after 110 farmers filed affidavits before the SHRC. Their petition is due to come up for hearing again on February 7, 2008.
The people removed the stones and pillars put up by the authorities to fence the area claiming that those lands had already been bought for the SEZ. Newspapers, apparently under the influence of the authorities, have carried exaggerated accounts of damage to property caused by opponents of the SEZ. The police have registered cases against farmers' leaders Surya Narayana Murthi, Narayana Swami and Ganga Dhar under sections 147, 148, 447, 427, 506, 149 of IPC.
Police personnel went to their houses at 4 in the morning and arrested them.
Rajendra, who organized protest meetings against the SEZ earlier, was also arrested. He has been remanded in judicial custody till January 31.
In all, about 150 farmers are reported to have been arrested. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC hasve been promulgated in the villages.
Police is seen everywhere, creating an atmosphere of terror. Fencing work is proceeding and no automobiles from outside are being allowed into the area.
It was in 2005 that the State government decided upon the setting up of an SEZ in Kakinada. The District Collector says the SHRC has not said the government should not go ahead with work on the SEZ. According to him, when he is peacefully carrying out the work of erecting a fence, the people are resorting to violence!
Those who wish to express their support for the cause of the peasants may convey their protest against the high-handed action of the State government in writing to Mr. Justice Subhashan Reddy, Chairman, State Human Rights Commission, Hyderabad (Fax No. 040 24601573), the Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad (Fax: 040 23453700) and/or Mr. Y. S. Rajashekhar Reddy,Chief Minister, Hyderabad (Fax: 040 23452498, 23410555). Protest letters may also be sent to the District Collector, East Godavari, Rajahmundry (Fax: 0844 2353480, e-mail: email@example.com)