-Suman Bhattacharyya from Kolkata
Bengal BJP leader Manish Shukla’s murder caught
on CCTV, in Inset: Bengal BJP leader Manish Shukla
The Sainbari Massacre of March 17, 1971, had unleashed a new type of political terror in the history of West Bengal. It exemplified how political killings can become an effective tool for political domination and crushing the voices of the opposition. The murder of Manish Shukla on October 4 once again established the extent to which such brutality can go in an attempt to gain absolute political control. It also exemplifies the government-crime nexus currently operative in the state, heightened to a state of perfection, an art, originally devised by the Left in Bengal.
To effectualise the violence in the Sainbari Murder Incident, the killers forced Mriganayana Devi, mother of the political victims, Pranab Sain and Malay Sain, to eat rice smothered with the blood of her sons. The killers of Manish Shukla pounded 25 bullets on him to ensure there is absolutely no chance of survival. In the past ten years, Trinamool Congress has indeed perfectly copied and mastered the art of terror which they diligently learnt from the previous regime of the Left. Hollywood movies would also rethink to chronicle such violence.
During the preparatory phases of the Panchayat elections in West Bengal during 2018, around a hundred political murders took place. This was to ensure Trinamool’s absolute control over the rural government and the system of distribution of Central funds at the grassroots level. Absolute control over the administrative and the financial machineries marks the core of the hegemony at the Panchayat level.
There was a lot of hue and cry in 2018 against these political murders and brutalities. The national media was also flooded with pictures of BJP workers indiscriminately hanged from trees and electric posts. A detailed analysis of the Karyakartas murdered during 2018 would reveal 70 per cent of them belonged to the minority community and SC/ST groups. Their political inclination towards BJP was retaliated with a vengeance by TMC.
This year, even during the COVID pandemic, BJP lost 14 of its Karyakartas in political clashes in West Bengal. State BJP leaders are convinced these are all political murders done by TMC goons, on various pretexts. On July 13, 2020, MLA Debendranath Roy (SC), who was found hanging from a tree a few hundred metres away from his residence in Hemtabad, Raiganj, Uttar Dinajpur district was perhaps the most notable casualty.
An honest man who rose to become an MLA from a humble background was found hanging in the wee hours of the morning. One of his hands was also tied, which led his family and supporters to point to foul play. The case was taken up and tweeted about by Bengal Governor, Jagdeep Dhankar. However, almost three months after his death, there is no clue to what had actually happened on that fateful night after he was called out of his home by a few bike-borne men.
Suppose one goes through the list of political casualties provided by BJP in West Bengal. In that case, it can be seen that the trend of 2018 continues unabated, i.e., Dalits and Muslims are increasing targets of TMC for reasons of their rising inclinations towards BJP.
Citing examples from the official list of casualties, one may also mention the strange murder case of the couple, Chandra Haldar and Sakuntala Haldar, at Kultali, South 24 Parganas.
This year, even during the COVID pandemic, BJP lost 14 of its karyakartas in political clashes in Bengal. State BJP leaders are convinced these are all political murders done by TMC goons, on various pretexts. On July 13, 2020, MLA Debendranath Roy (SC), who was found hanging from a tree a few hundred metres away from his residence in Hemtabad, Raiganj, Uttar Dinajpur district was perhaps the most notable casualty
Sakuntala’s body was found hanging from the ceiling fan of the couple’s room while her husband, Chandra Haldar’s body was recovered from the vicinity of the house. Kultali, densely populated by Dalits, was visibly inclining towards BJP and the murder of this Karyakarta couple was intended to be a lesson for others.
In another gruesome incident, on August 15, 2020, in Arambagh, Hooghly district, Sudarshan Pramanik, a BJP Mandal President was beaten to death by TMC goons in broad daylight. According to eyewitnesses, Sudarshan Pramanik was raising the tricolour at the time of his assault. It needs to be mentioned that Arambagh is a Lok Sabha Constituency which saw a very close contest in 2019.
March rattles Mamata
The Mamata Banerjee-led dispensation seems to have further lost her ground. BJP Youth Wing's 'March to Nabanna' took a violent turn on October 8 after police resorted to water cannons, lobbed tear gas shells and lathicharged the 'peaceful protesters' to disperse the crowd in more than one place in Kolkata and other places adjoining the metropolis.
Violence and clashes were reported from various parts of Kolkata and Howrah district. There were clashes in Santragachi. "What’s happening in Kolkata is broad daylight Murder of Democracy! Deeply conscious of the writing on the wall; Mamata Banerjee is now scared of the ensuing assembly elections and hence indulging in Politics of Govt Sponsored Violence," tweeted BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe. BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said the BJP Yuva Morcha activists and supporters accompanied senior leaders in the different parts of the city were only protesting "democratically" but Mamata Banerjee has tried to turn "the peaceful demonstration into a violent protest".
"Goons along with police pelted stones at us,” he said as violence was reported in multiple spots. Scores of BJP workers, including state vice-president Raju Banerjee, were injured in the clash. In various parts of the city, party leaders including Arjun Singh, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Locket Chatterjee, Dilip Ghosh and Mukul Roy were staging protests. "Our protest is to preserve the rich Bengal culture...," Vijayvargiya said.
"Frightened by the Strong Resolve of the BJP workers. Mamata has first shut down Kolkata in view of the Nabanna chalo March and now she has unleashed the police to curb the march in all possible ways," BJP leader Arvind Menon tweeted. Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said a number of BJP leaders and workers were injured by police actions. "It appeared...police were determined to attack us to suppress our movement against Trinamool," Ghosh said.
Answering questions in Kolkata, he said: "The Mamata Banerjee regime shut Nabanna today...It is like running away from the playground. They are trying to stop a democratic movement by autocratic style. We had no plans to throw Mamata Banerjee out physically; why should she shut Nabanna (state secretariat)".
The newly appointed BJP Yuva Morcha chief Tejasvi Surya also led a large group of BJP youth workers and supporters. "Nearly 120 BJP workers including councillors and MLAs have been eliminated and murdered by Trinamool goons in the state. We are here to register the protest on deteriorating law and order situation," he said.
Trinamool had been able to save its face by a slender margin of less than 2000 votes. Arambagh was also in the news because the operations of a local cable TV Channel, called Arambagh TV, was stopped and its owner-cum-editor, Safikul Islam, was jailed because he exposed the corruption and Syndicate raj of the local TMC leaders.
In August 2020 again, Saikh Liyaqat, a BJP Karyakarta was killed in Egra, East Midnapore district in a violent clash with TMC goons. According to sources, 20 Karyakartas were brutally beaten up and suffered from severe injuries. During the last month, at least three BJP workers were killed in different parts of Bengal. On September 13, Arambagh again saw the murder of Ganesh Ray. On September 07, Rabin Pal was murdered in Kalna, East Burdwan district. Before this, Anup Ray, also a BJP worker, had died in police custody, on September 03. These three recent incidents chronicle how West Bengal has become a perfect killing field during the last 40 years of TMC and Left rule.
Raising serious allegations against the Mamata Banerjee administration, Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar recently tweeted that the State recorded more than 200 rapes and over 600 kidnappings in August alone
Ironically, the celebrated director of The Killing Fields, Roland Joffe, who had come down to Kolkata to shoot the City of Joy on the celebrated novel of Dominique Lapiere, had also been harassed and his film set vandalised in 1991. The Left front Government left no stone unturned to make sure that the celebrated director could not shoot his movie in the city. It is important to note that the shooting of this movie, resisted by the Left Front Government, had Shabana Azmi and Om Puri in the star cast. It, therefore, goes without saying that if anyone tries to do a film on the Sainbari Incident or a documentary on the tradition of political killings in Bengal during the last 40 years, he/she will be crucified by the Left Liberals who proclaim themselves to be champions of free speech and free-thinking.
TMC has followed exactly the footsteps of the Left when Mamata Banerjee herself stopped the screening of Anik Dutta’s Bhobishyoter Bhoot, which narrated the story of TMC’s corruption and political killings.
West Bengal continues to remain a hotbed of political terror, and political murders still continue to be a useful tool to capture power, both political and financial. The ruling TMC regards that Panchayats and the Municipalities have to be controlled through whatever means as all the money from the schemes of the Central Government are disbursed through these agencies. Economic corruption can only be legitimised if an absolute control can be retained over these machineries at the cost of human lives, lives of dedicated BJP workers. Meanwhile, the great spiritual and intellectual traditions of Bengal have also died a slow death in the face of all this violence and terror.