MIGRATING BENGAL: REMINISCING KASHMIR EXODUS

    02-Jun-2021
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The land of Vivekananda cannot be allowed to be run on the principle of dictatorship where any political activism is not accepted by a Supreme Leader of a political party and will be met with violence on the streets
 -Veer Vikrant Singh
 
 
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West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar visits post-poll violence affected areas in Dinhata, Cooch Behar
 
 
Among the reports of post poll violence in Bengal leading to everyday incidents of murders, gang-rapes, arson, ransacking and vandalising houses, the entire nation is witnessing the saddest hour in the history of 70 years of Democracy. The elections might have been fought between the political parties in Bengal, but the entire humanity is bleeding aftermath. Every day, we hear hundreds of complaints of the abovementioned heinous offences, but the unreported stories are more brutal and odious. The irony is that the democratically elected Government in West Bengal and the civil administration appears to be a mere spectator in this regard. Relying upon the reports and statements of victims, the ruling party is in connivance, allowing its supporters in cahoots with police administration to demolish its political opposition, emerging and existing in the State. The entire Vengeance episode has created a humanitarian crisis leading to helpless, broken people migrating from Bengal to the neighbouring States of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, UP and even Delhi. The present generation finds it in resemblance to the incidents of Exodus of J&K in the 1990s, where after the series of anti-Hindu pogroms and attacks that took place shortly after the inception of the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989.
 
The situation, however, is no less different than at those times. The reports reflect that the areas of West Bengal neighbouring Bangladesh, including Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24 Parganas, Howrah, etc., have reported maximum incidents of Crime and Violence against political supporters and innocent women and children. Women and children, particularly, are more exposed to violence and atrocities in the State. There are more unreported rather than reported cases of violence against women, including public assault, gang rapes, kidnapping, robbery, threats of rape and injury etc. Children are being made to desert their families flee away from their houses after killing their family members and vandalising their houses. The shops, establishments, and business points have been robbed, ransacked and vandalised, with cash and movables being carried away by the mob. They are further threatened to
 
Leave their native places and not return. They are, therefore, forced to leave their homes and take refuge in shelter homes and relief in and outside the State. The Police Administration has been a mere spectator in the entire episode and is helpless on the ruling Government's orders, abstaining from performing its primary duty of maintaining law and order. They are reluctant to perform their statutory duty of maintaining law and order and safeguarding citizens' liberty and seem to be hand in gloves with those committing crimes. The complaints are not being accepted, nor FIR's are being registered in the Police Administration. On the contrary, they are threatening people to avoid reporting the incidents and take back those complaints that have already been filed or sent through emails. Instead of acting upon complaints, the police are tracking down the complainers and forcing them to either turn hostile or refuse to file any complaints. The lawlessness and anarchy have reached the pinnacle with a number of attacks on the convoys of Governor, Central Ministers and Commission Representatives.
 
The State Government is barring the entry of central agencies, investigating team of National Commissions and media so that the ground reality and situation goes unheard and without investigation and the bloodshed in Bengal remain unexposed. Despite voices of protest from every corner of opposition against the same, the ruling Government remains unvital to its sponsored ferocity 
The State Government is barring the entry of central agencies, investigating team of National Commissions and media so that the ground reality and situation goes unheard and without investigation and the bloodshed in Bengal remain unexposed. Despite voices of protest from every corner of opposition against the same, the ruling Government remains unvital to its sponsored ferocity.
 
The wrecked and destitute people of Bengal, being forced to break out and escape from their homes, migrate to other places for food, clothing, shelter and safety in and outside the State to neighbouring like Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha. Among multiple claims pertaining to a number of displaced and homeless people, about 1 lakh people have migrated from West Bengal to neighbouring states and residing at rehabilitation camps established in these states. A large number of people from Cooch Behar, Kamakhyaguri, Tufanganj, Alpiurdaur, Falimari, Rampur villages in Bengal have taken shelter at Refugee Camps in Rangapali and Srirampur in Assam. Also, people are taking refuge at various schools at Kherabari, Japsabari, Pokrabari area under Agomani, Golakganj Police Station in Dhubri, Assam.
 
According to Bishnu Das, Coordinator of the Camps at Dhubri Assam states that initially, the District Administration of Dhubri opened two centres at Ronpagli M.V. School, and Pokalagi School of Chagolia-2 block. With the turnout of many migrants from Bengal, several relief camps were established, including 3 refugee camps opened at Kokrajhar, 4 at Sri Rampur, 2 at Tamarhat of Assam's bordering district of Kokrajhar, where thousands of people are staying. It includes camps at Village Salbhanga, Kathalbari, Chotlaukhuti, Subhash palli, Balakuthi and Silghagri.
 

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Bombs hurled at the Hindu colonies in West Bengal after assembly results
 
Though the States are providing the possible facilities to the displaced people in shelter homes, there is overall uncertainty about their fate in future. People are pessimistic about going back and leading their everyday lives. Amidst the lawlessness and anarchy in the State, they cannot imagine a stable living. They are quite apprehensive about the threat to life, property and family once they return to their native places. It is very hard for them to believe that the present Government can afford protection to their human and constitutional rights after the bloodshed and its connivance in the ongoing violence with the goons. The unsympathetic and irresponsive Police administration is nothing but a lamppost in the entire episode. Though the media is paying less attention to the ongoing incidents, that cannot obsolete the human suffering in West Bengal. At this time, when the entire nation is swept under the pandemic wave, the displaced people are marginalised and left on their fate.
 
Though law and order is a state subject in Schedule 7 of the Constitution, they shoulder the responsibility and power to maintain it, but at present, the state machinery in West Bengal has collapsed, and anarchy prevails. People are suffering, bleeding and are displaced with no recourse to help, assistance regarding implementing their Human Rights against the State Government. It is inevitable for the Central Government and other agencies to instantly deal with this humanitarian crisis by providing adequate food and health facilities, specifically regarding vaccination and treatment for Covid and compensating and aiding them in returning to their native places and living a stable life. It includes safety, security, and adequate livelihood opportunities, which can help them, heal their wounds in the future.
 
(The writer is a lawyer in the Supreme Court of India)