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Home > News > Report

Nandigram issue has created chasm among people of West Bengal: Noam Chomsky

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | November 22, 2007 13:54 IST

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Leading intellectuals from the United States and Europe, including Noam Chomsky and Victoria Brittain, have expressed concern and distress over the recent developments in West Bengal on the Nandigram issue that has created a chasm among people in the state "sharing similar values."

In a statement christened 'To our Friends in Bengal', over a dozen scholars and academics, who have been monitoring the state of affairs in West Bengal, and Nandigram in particular, said that the events in West Bengal have overtaken the optimism that some of them have experienced during trips to the state.

"We are concerned about the rancor that has divided the public space, created what appear to be unbridgeable gaps between people who share similar values. It is this that distresses us. We hear from people on both sides of this chasm, and we are trying to make some sense of the events and the dynamics," the statement said.

"Obviously, our distance prevents us from saying anything definitive. We continue to trust that the people of Bengal will not allow their differences on some issues to tear apart the important experiments undertaken in the state (land reforms, local self-government)," it said.

"We send our fullest solidarity to the peasants who have been forcibly dispossessed. We understand that the government has promised not to build a chemical hub in the area around Nandigram. We understand that those who had been dispossessed by the violence are now being allowed back to their homes, without recrimination," the statement said.

"We understand that there is now talk of reconciliation. This is what we favour."

Among those who signed the statement included Chomsky, an institute professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an renowned linguist, philosopher, political activist and author; Brittain, a former associate foreign editor of the Guardian, and a research associate at the London [Images] School of Economics; author Tariq Ali; Howard Zinn, historian, author and playwright; Susan George, an American author who is chair of the Planning Board of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam and Vijay Prasad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies in Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut.

The statement, which was drafted before the state government called in the army to maintain peace in Kolkata Wednesday night, cautioned against splitting the Left.