How Singur’s ‘ecofeminists’ bore the brunt of land acquisition
Singur (West Bengal), Oct 20 (IANS) For a section of ‘ecofeminists’ of Singur who were at the front line of the historic land movement, a different fight awaited them back home.
Fifty-year-old Annabala Ghosh’s husband passed away a mere two months ahead of the acquisition of their five-bigha plot.
“On the outside we put up a brave fight for my land but inside, I was crumbling after my husband died. Then two months later, our land was snatched. Then my struggle to bring up my daughters began,” Ghosh told IANS, proudly standing on her restituted plot.
Annabala is one of the two female land owners out of the 23 who were physically given possession of their plot of “forcibly acquired” land by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday.
In the decade since the struggle and the acquisition, Ghosh managed to make ends meet by growing produce in her home garden.
“One of my daughters used to impart tuitions and so we survived… it was extremely difficult but later on Mamata Didi’s scheme of 16 kg rice and Rs 2,000 helped us,” she said with a tinge of sadness.
But on Thursday, Annabala and her fellow land owner Malati Ghosh brimmed with confidence as they discussed their future plans.
“We had held out hope with prayers in our heart that one day we would be able to start cultivation in our plot again. Women have a special pull for their land. It is a treasure and our root,” Malati said.
The land struggle has blurred the gender divide, they feel.
“Land is land and so when it came to reclaiming it back, we, as women, never hesitated to participate in the ‘rasta roko’ and other agitations,” Annabala said.
“But as caregivers and homemakers, we had to bear the brunt of what transpired after the acquisition,” she added.
For now, both Malati and Annabala plan to start cultivation of potatoes and paddy on their restituted farm land as soon as possible.
“Somehow, we have to survive, so we have to use this plot and farm. Later on, my daughters can decide whatever they want to do with it,” Annabala said.
According to activist Anuradha Talwar, the feminist movement took a step back in the post-acquisition decade.
“Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) did a study and we found that women who were in social movements, they become dole receivers… they get Rs 2,000. We feel it is a step back for the feminist movement,” Talwar told IANS.
(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)