CPI(M) Politburo member and former MP Brinda Karat addressed six meetings around the Jaypee Cement factory in Rewa district on Thursday where four persons suffered gunshot wounds after allegedly being fired upon by Jaypee Cement personnel in Baijnath village last week. One of the alleged assailants have been taken into custody.

Ms. Karat congratulated the villagers on their resistance to Jaypee’s alleged attempts to grab their land. “ JP [Gaur — the founder of the Jaypee group] and his thugs dared to beat up a pregnant woman so badly that she had to be hospitalised. The local BJP MLA (Abhay Mishra) is behind them. This aim of this criminalisation of politics is to grab the land of the poor,” she told the people of Baijnath.

Geeta Kushwaha, a pregnant woman, was in hospital after being assaulted by security guards of Jaypee Cement on October 3. She told this paper that her home on ancestral lands claimed by Jaypee was destroyed and her belongings seized by the company. “They continued to hit me and fired at us even after we had fallen down,” she said.

Ms. Karat urged voters to vote for the CPI(M), which before delimitation used to represent the Sirmour assembly constituency. The area now falls under the Semariya constituency, from where the party's state committee member Rohit Tiwari is contesting. “(Chief Ministers) Shivraj (Chouhan) and (Narendra) Modi wear glasses with which they can only see Jaypee and Adani and not the poor. Shivraj’s politics have been defined by land grab. The dreams they see are nightmares for the people,” she said.

The area around the Jaypee Plant has periodic tremors due to explosions in the limestone quarries that dot the area. Though a large number of the peasants have grown prosperous by switching from cereals and pulses to vegetables, they live under the constant fear of reprisals by Jaypee Cement with whom they have several land disputes.

In 2007, a youth named Raghavendra Patel was killed when Jaypee guards opened fire on a demonstration for work in the factory. Another youth named Abhishek Mishra, also involved in the movement against land grab, was found dead in July this year after being picked up by the police. The deceased youth have earned the titles of martyrs and two panchayats in the area are now ruled by the CPI(M).

In the martyr villages of Garhwa and Vihari, Ms. Karat met families of the deceased. “Jaypee behaves like a feudal lord,” she told this paper. “While continuing to serve the corporate interests, Shivraj gives little other than propaganda. This is no different from Modi who keeps saying that he was a chaiwallah. If he was one, then he has betrayed his class.”

Ms. Karat added that it was premature to talk of a third front now. "It will depend on the performance of the secular non Congress parties in next year's Lok Sabha polls," she opined. In MP, the CPI(M) has allied with the Samajwadi Party, CPI and, the Rashtriya Samanta Dal.