Terror in Dadri – “Urja” Nagar (Power City) become “Ujar Nagar” (City of Devastation)
On the outskirts of Delhi, in Dadri, Ghaziabad, Reliance Energy has plans to build the world’s largest gas based power plant of 3500 MW. The investment outlay is more than Rs. 10,000 crore (US $ 2.2 billion). However the real investment is the 2500 acres of land in the most fertile region of the world, with alluvial soils built up over millennia by the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, irrigated by the Ganga Canal system. Farmers on whose land the power plant is to be built, did not even know the Government had acquired the land till the foundation stone was unveiled. Since then, the villagers of the region have been resisting the forced take over of their land. Farmers of seven villages have been on a hunger strike since January 2006 at the protest site in Village Bajhera Khurd in Dader.
When I went to Bajhera with Rajendra Singh of Tarun Bharat Sangh and Satpal Choudhary of the Lak Tantrik Party in May 2006, Dr. Jaipal Singh, one of the protestors on a fast said that the villagers came to know of the acquisition only from local newspapers at the time of unveiling of the power project. No consent was taken and no notice was served. When they challenged the injustice and illegality of the acquisition of their land, the authorities told them to either go to Court or accept the “compensation” being awarded.
With Delhi’s explosive urban sprawl, land in Dadri is worth Rs. 13,500 / Sq.m. Farmers are being offered only Rs. 120/- Sq.m. Further the power project only needs 700 acres, but 2500 acres have been acquired because of high real estate value. And finally no legal procedure has been followed in acquiring the land.
Farmers have torn down the fence, and have been ploughing their fields to assert their rights. On 8th of July, India ex Prime Minsiter V.P. Singh who has recently launched a farmers front Jan Morcha to stop farmers exploitation and oppression, was to join farmers in tillilng the land.
The night before, 100 vehicles of the police entered Bajhera Khurd, fired bullets and tear gas at the protestors, then entered the village, broke open doors, assaulted women, children, the old and the disabled, cows and buffaloes, stole every womens gold jewellery, robbed money from safes and trunks, broke every car and motorcycle, took away every mobile phone so that the village was left with no mobility and no communication. Mr. V.P. Singh was arrested along with Raj Babbar, the famous bollywood filmstar and M.P. at the Delhi border
On 11th July, I went to visit the women of Bajhera. The foods the community had collected to serve 100,000 who were to join the protest on 8th had been heartlessly destroyed. Prem Pal, the Son of Rohta Singh had been shot in the foot but was not given medical help. Instead he was thrown in Jail.
Harvati had been attacked severely on her legs and neck. She cannot speak.
Sona’s pregnant daughter-in-law was dragged out of a room after breaking down the door. The attack has traumatized her to such an extent that she is having fits. Her husband Charan Singh was thrown in Jail.
Maya, a widow had all her cash and jewellery stolen. Her son, Sunil drives a taxi for a living. He had just sold an old car for Rs. 30,000/-. That was taken. Tear gas was exploded in his eyes. He has lost his sight. Maya said “his eyes was what kept the family alive. How will we survive”.
Even the disabled were not spared. Makhan Singh was attacked by a Bayonet. When Lal Giri was attacked, his aged mother Asharfi threw herself in the way to protect him.
Dalit labourer Udaibir’s son Jagdish’s sons leg has been broken, and a 16 year old son Chandeema is in jail. His wife’s mangal sutra was snatched. His one and a half month grandson Kapil who was in his lap was snatched and thrown on the floow.
Dulari, Sashi, Masla?.. no one was spared. Shiela was hit on the head and face with a bayonet. Her head is still bleeding.
People’s land and people’s blood, is the subsidy being given to corporations to build power plants and cities, shopping malls and golf courses. This is not “Shinning India” or “Smiling India”. This is India enslaved, India in tears.
The Emergence of the Corporate State leads to the emergence of facism
The partnership between corporations and Governments is leading to the emergence of a corporate state – with the state using its political power to help corporations appropriate the wealth and property of citizens, and corporations using their economic power to help politicians who have helped them to crush democratic dissent. This gives a few people such power that they can rob people of all freedoms. Monopoly markets lead to quasi-military authority. The corporate state becomes a facist state. Facist dictatorship is an inevitable outcome of market dictatorship. This is what the atrocities in Bajhera Khurd in Dadri symbolize. Every village is being made a concentration camp. Every home is being turned into a torture chamber.
Policies which combine the colonial / feudal principle of the “eminent domain” with the market principle of corporate concentration must become an assault on people’s rights.
The colonial land acquisition act gave unbridled power to the colonial state to acquire land for public purpose. However, an obsolete act continues to be used to grab land from farmers for private profit. Whether it is for the Reliance power plant in Dadri or the Reliance Special Economic Zones in Haryana and Maharashtra, or the Retail Hubs Reliance is setting up in Punjab, fertile land has been forcefully acquired by Governments at rates 1000 times lower than market rates, and handed over to corporations. Markets are for corporations, not the farmers. For the farmers it is the brute force of a facist state using colonial laws.
In a democracy, land and resources should be governed on the basis of the public trust doctrine, not the eminent domain principle. In times of corporate globalsiation, the Land Acquisition Act can only be the instrument of facism. It must be set aside. Let corporations negotiate directly with farmers. If farmers do not want to sell their farmland a brute state should not forcefully acquire it. If they do, they should get the full market price.
The Newsweek of July 17, 2006 has a cover story on Mukesh Ambani, the brother of Anil Ambani, who is setting up the Dadri power plant. Mukesh Ambani is also setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZ) outside Delhi and Mumbai. In addition he is planning to create 1600 farm supply hubs across India. He calls himself the Wal Mart of India and claims that his success comes from “Government is ceding its powers”. However like in Dadri, Mukesh Ambani’s SEZ’s of 150 square kilometers outside Mumbai has been based on land acquisition with Government help. This is not about Governments ceding its powers, but Government exaggerating its powers to force citizens to cede their resources and assets so that businesses like Reliance can grow bigger. When Newsweek has a cover story on Mukesh Ambani as India’s Mister Big who could spark Asia’s next boom, they are not telling the story of how ordinary farmers are being robbed of their land and livelihood to create this boom.
We cannot allow facism to be the foundation of India’s economic growth. The Dadri atrocity must never be repeated if India is to stay democratic and free.