CPI(ML) Activists Arrested in Anti-SEZ Agitation at Kakinada

The Kakinada Special Eonomic Zone (KSEZ) is one among the first three in the country which got permission two and a half years back. KSEZ is the promoting agency started acquiring lands long back at cheaper rates. The government has not acquired the land directly through the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation but allowed private organizations to do the same. The Government declared that export-oriented large and medium industries will be promoted in this region, by which large scale employment will be generated.

Initially central and state governments propagated that a refinery with a capacity of seven and a half million tonnes will be started by ONGC and many subsidiaries will be floated. They estimated that 8500 acres land is necessary. Later ONGC dropped its proposal in the name of non-feasibility of the project with less capacity. Due to pressure from local level lobbies, the Central Government made ONGC start its project with a 15 million tonnes capacity. In the meantime KSEZ promoters developed an understanding with Reliance to start a refinery here. Any way, it is not yet clear what industries will be promoted here. But so far, 6000 acres of land have already been acquired by KSEZ with the help of ruling machinery. Revenue officials, including the Collector, toured the villages coming under the SEZ and tried to influence the people with false promises, and even threatened many of them. Firstly, they acquired the lands of absentee landlords and big farmers, then middle and small peasants were compelled to sell their lands.

Right from the beginning of KSEZ, we started a campaign in different villages and conducted conventions and meetings. Peasants voluntarily mobilized to oppose SEZ and a collectorate gherao was conducted in which ten thousands of people took part cutting across the party lines. Then, the Collector assured that the fertile lands will not be acquired and the SEZ will be shifted to the area where land is barren. But then the KSEZ started acquiring land silently.

Now KSEZ started the fencing work for the acquired lands and in view of resistance from the people they mobilised the government machinery. Police started arresting farmers as well as leaders who are active in the movement. On 17 January in the early hours they searched for CPI(ML) leaders in this area. They also came to our district party office around 3 am and picked up local activists and then raided AP State Committee Member Comrade Viplav Kumar’s house in Kakinada and arrested him. They searched for the AIPWA leader K Ratna Kumari but failed to find her. They went around in villages and arrested peasants who were active in the movement. On the same day Ratna Kumari, State Committee Member of CPI(ML), along with 300 people went to resist at the fencing, and she was arrested there. Protesting these arrests and demanding the release of all arrested leaders comrades gheraoed the Gollapradu Mandal Revenue Officer; a number of people took part in this protest. Police arrested 18 comrades including Party District Committee member Ganga Balu.

On 21 January AIALA and AP Kisan Sabha jointly held a Convention on the theme 'Scrap Special Economic Zone' in Kakinada. The convention was presided over by Party CCM and Orissa State Secretary Kshitish Biswal, and conducted by Party CCM Bangar Rao. It was addressed by AIALA National President Comrade Rameshwar Prasad, AIALA General Secretary Dhirendra Jha, Party Poliburo members DP Buxi and N Murthy (also AP State Secretary), CCMs M Malleshwar Rao, Bahadur Oraon, as well as D Harinath. AIPWA District leader Appala Raju, who is directly leading anti-SEZ struggle, narrated the police atrocities and harassment going on in villages.

The Convention passed several resolutions including the demand to immediately release the arrested leaders, to intensify campaign against land acquisition and SEZ, to press for the demand to scrap the SEZ Act 2005, and condemned the YSR GOVT. for working for the interests of the big capital by making thousands of peasants and rural poor homeless and without any means of livelihood.

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