Political and rights activists on Friday called for a mass movement against the West Bengal government's "repression" to suppress a campaign against land acquisition and sought the scrapping of a controversial power project in the state.
Representatives from Left parties and rights organisations accused the Trinamool Congress of "unleashing unprecedented" terror including charging people with anti-terror laws and sexually assaulting women opposing the Power Grid Corp of India Ltd (PGCIL) project at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas.
Since its inception in 2013, the project has run into stringent opposition from farmers as well as environmentalists. The area has been on the boil since November over "forced" acquisition of 16 acres of farmland — spread over several villages.
In violent clashes between the protestors and police in January, two people were killed.
"The Trinamool, which came to power riding on farmers protests in Singur and Nandigram, is now indulging in state sponsored terrorism to suppress a farmers movement. This is betrayal of the huge mandate which the people of Bnegal gave her in 2011 and again in 2016," said CPI-ML (Red Star) general secretary K.N. Ramachandran.
He said opposition parties will march to the Raj Bhavan on May 8 seeking the intervention of West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi.
Anuradha Talwar of the Bhangar Andolan Solidarity Committee, which has been spearheading the protests, said that besides implicating over 2,000 people in criminal cases, there have been widespread sexual assault on women.
"At least 36 people have been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)," said Talwar who was among a number of activists who lent support to Mamata Banerjee in her anti-acquisition protests against the erstwhile Left Front government in Bengal.
Talwar, who herself is facing several cases, said a host of human rights activists who have been part of the movement have been named on an average "10-12" cases including those with non-bailable offences.
The country's oldest rights organisation, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), said it had petitioned the NHRC seeking a probe into the crackdown on the people of Bhangar.
"We have urged (NHRC) to probe the widespread human rights violations of villagers including sexual assault of women," said PUCL National Secretary Kavita Srivastava.
CPI-ML general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya alleged a nexus between the Trinamool and the Centre's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"The BJP, which forgoes not a single opportunity to attack Mamata, has been silent on this issue. It is evident there is a nexus and the BJP is hand in glove with the Trinamool in carrying out this oppression," said Bhattacharya.