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Land rights demo

Demonstrators gathered outside the Indian High Commission in London yesterday to protest against the massacre by the West Bengal government of people protesting against the seizure of their land for a Special Economic Zone. They handed in a letter denouncing this latest attack on land rights, now a standard element in India's huge economic growth.

At least 20 people from the village of Nandigram, and possibly as many as 70 according to eyewitnesses, were killed by police sent in by the government of West Bengal. They are only the most recent villagers driven off their land to make way for the global corporations expansion in West Bengal’s low wage economy.

The land is to be handed over to an Indonesian Multinational, the Salim group. The New-Labour style Communist Party government of West Bengal is using a law left over from British colonial times, the Land Acquisition Act of 1984, to drive thousands of people from their land.

The plan is to create law and rights-free enclaves where the corporations writ will run; and in the process thousands will lose their land and become destitute. Their only option will be to try to find work in the SEZ’s. Campaigners have dubbed it “developmental terrorism”, and the South Asia Solidarity Group, based in the UK, plan to hold a series of meetings to highlight the situation and plan a campaign here.

An on-line petition is running and more information can be requested from sasg@southasiasolidarity.org

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