This is in continuation to our earlier article West Bengal Politics: Blood Stained Names – I and our endeavour through this series is to aware the youth about few events which happened in West Bengal. We hear these names but many of us are still unaware what exactly happened. In our previous article we have mentioned about Sain-Bari, Marich Jhanpi, Ananda Marg and Keshpur. In this article we will briefly recount few such names.
Soon after the Left Front (LF) came to power in 1977, the poor people of this locality became virtual slaves of the money lenders, land lords, promoters, contractors and tax extracting goons, all belonging to the CPM. Any protest meant either torture by the Harmads or arrest by the police branding the protester as a Naxalite activist. After the success of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the Panskura election the oppressed people saw a ray of hope in the new party and the influence of the party went on increasing rapidly in the area dominated by poor people especially scheduled castes and Muslims.
Then the Harmad force took control of the entire area and declared that anybody showing allegiance to the TMC would be punished mercilessly. They identified some middle farmers who were spreading propagating for the TMC and threatened the landless labours of the locality that anyone working with these farmers would be punished. They in fact wanted to punish these farmers not by any violent means but by spoiling their agricultural production, the means of their livelihood. While none of the local labours could be mobilized, one such farmer hired 11 landless labours from outside. It was in the early morning on 27th July 2000. As soon as these labours, unaware of the Harmad threat, started working on the land of the farmer, armed Harmads attacked them and brutally killed all of them.
Victims of Nanoor massacre were Seikh Nizam, Rasul Bax, Sabur Seikh, Seikh Salamat, Harai Seikh, Saran Mete, Safikul Seikh, Seikh Safiq, Asraf Seikh, Saifur Seikh, Seikh Ali Hossain. CPM claim themselves secular, is this a proof of secularism? CPM appeased Muslims for Votes only, never looked into their well-being or development.
After any such heinous act, CPM use to cover it up with concocted stories to confuse people and deviate people’s attention. They did same in this incident, once again concocted a story that they were dacoits and killed by the local people when they attempted dacoity at a house in that locality. Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, M.P. from Bolpur (that contains Nanoor), described the victims as notorious anti-socials. However, when the stories did not work, the local CPM leaders admitted that the 11 victims were innocent landless labours. To save face, top CPM leaders like Jyoti Basu, Biman Basu and Anil Biswas condemned the massacre without forgetting to mention that this was a reaction of torture on the CPM supporters by Trinamul Congress and other parties opposed to the CPM.
Chhota Angaria Annihilation
After the combined Harmad-Maoist onslaught to evict the TMC supporters from the Keshpur area, the Harmads could drive out the TMC supporters from the entire west Midnapore district. Defection from the CPM was stopped by threats and most of the TMC supporters rejoined the LF simply to save their lives.
Abdul Bakhtar Mandal and some of his followers at Chhota Angaria village in west Midnapore, ignored the Harmad threats and continued campaigning for the TMC in the assembly elections. So, action was necessary. The deadly duo – Tapan Ghosh and Sukur Ali, along with the killer team, surrounded the house of Mandal where TMC supporters had assembled and set it ablaze on 4th January, 2001. Mandal himself could escape, but most of the inmates were either burnt alive or shot dead by the Harmads. Because of the tight-lips of the eye witnesses to the incident it is very difficult to get the exact information about the number of persons killed in the incident. Later on it was found, 11 died in that incident.
In fact, later on when the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) took up the case, all the witnesses including the chief witness Bakhtar Mandal declined to co-operate as they were all warned by CPM that any cooperation with the CBI would mean torturous death of the witness and his family members. For this reason, the CBI was compelled to release the arrested persons, which included the two chief Tapan Ghosh and Sukur Ali, unconditionally and withdraw the charges against them. As soon as these two pathological murderers were released from CBI custody, not only the West Midnapore leaders, but also the top state-level leaders and ministers celebrated the occasion by garlanding Tapan Ghosh and Sukur Ali and describing them as the ‘most precious assets’ of the party.
Rape and Murder of Tapasi Malik
Tapasi Malik, the teen-age daughter of a poor peasant became a staunch supporter of the ‘Save Farm’ movement of the evicted Singur peasants since their land had been grabbed. She had the courage to openly protest against the intimidation of the Harmads.
On 18th December, 2006, at 5 A.M. she went out of her house to answer nature’s call; she was dragged by hair by the Harmads inside the area barbed wired for the Nano factory. She was gang raped by the Harmads. Then dragged her in a pit which was done beforehand for the purpose, where she was burnt alive. Her abdominal area was totally burnt off. The villagers discovered her burnt body at 6 A.M. The police immediately rushed to the spot and dispersed the villagers. Then they dragged her father, Sri Manoranjan Malik and compelled him to write that it was a case of suicide because of a family problem. The mass, now magnified, could snatch away the papers from the police tear off the papers containing false affidavit of Tapasi’s father. The leader of the opposition (TMC) in the legislative assembly soon came to the spot and made the police to write the FIR of murder.
It was a well-planned case and CPM had already prepared their story that it was a case of suicide because of a family quarrel. CPM always tried the famous saying of Promod Dasgupta (actually said by Paul Joseph Goebbles – Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany), ‘a lie told hundred times becomes a truth’, but his theory was disproved again.
The LF government of West Bengal decided to acquire 14,000 acres of multi-cropping rich agricultural land from the area Nandigram in the East Midnapore district and hand it over for setting up a SEZ (special economic zone) to the Salem group of Indonesia. To acquire land in a high handed way, Lakshman Seth declared on 28th December, 2006, on behalf of the Haldia Development Authority that about 14,000 acres of land would be acquired from the cultivators of Nandigram. The villagers, disregarding the threats, protested against the decision before the panchayat office on 3rd January 2007. Immediately police arrived and dispersed the protesters by lathi charge.
Soon the villagers organized themselves into the Bhumi Uchhed Protirodh Committee (BUPC) (Committee against Eviction from Land) and started putting up barricades on the road by felling trees, digging roads and placing massive stones on the roads at regular gaps so as to prevent the entry of police jeeps.
1st Round – The Harmads soon arrived from various parts of the state and created an armed camp at Khejuri, right outside Nandigram. On 7th January, 2006, a large number of Harmads, armed with sophisticated weapons, attacked the villagers and three villagers were killed in the encounter. The villagers could, however, repulse the attack and a Harmad was killed in the encounter. A parallel administration was set up by the cultivators and a resistance group was formed to combat the attacks by the police and the Harmads.
Realizing the impossibility of subjugating the reluctant cultivators by sheer threat, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya sought time to chalk out some effective plan for the cultivators, announced on 9th February, 2007 that no land would be acquired without the consent of the affected cultivators.
2nd Round – took the Nandigram people completely unawares. They had taken Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s assurances in face value and leaving in fool’s paradise that soon the government would sit with the protesters to decide about the land issue. The onslaught came on 14th March, 2007. Hundreds of armed Harmads wearing police uniforms (wearing Hawaii Chappals) mixed with the accompanying police force attacked the villagers and took possession of the area after indiscriminate killing and raping. More than 14 villagers were killed and hundreds wounded, many females, age ranging from five to sixty five were gang raped. But ultimately the valiant people of Nandigram, both women and men with simple weapons like sticks, iron rods and domestic choppers could chase away the criminals, the spineless cowards looking for girls to rape.
Under such pressure Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya once again played his trick and declared on 3rd September, 2007 that the site for the SEZ would be shifted from Nandigram to the sparsely populated island of Nayachar, 30 kilometres from Haldia.
3rd Round – hundreds of Harmads armed with long range Kalashnikov rifles, mortars, Molotov cocktails, hand grenades and naphtha bombs encircled Nandigram from all sides and entry of the outsiders including the journalists was completely blocked. The invaders, from six different directions, went on invading village after village by killing people and setting fire on houses indiscriminately. The killers used 500 captured BUPC members, mostly women, as shields while advancing through the villages and this gave the villagers little opportunity to resist the attack which started on 6th November 2007 and ended after all the villages were under the control of the Harmads on 8th November. Red flags were raised at the top of all the houses. Thousands of villagers had fled from the villages and taken shelter in the houses of relatives or refugee camps outside the Nandigram war-zone. The male supporters of the BUPC who had failed to escape were hunted out by the Harmads and killed after exemplary torture, then started indiscriminate looting of properties and raping of women of all ages.
On 13th November, the trigger happy Buddha made the comment before the hilarious celebrators of the victory, “They have been paid back in the same coin.”
CBI was entrusted with enquiry of Nandigram Genocide. It revealed Maoists connection. Maoists were given shelter by villagers and they helped villagers cut off the villages from police and administration.
Now the readers should notice that CPM went for land acquisition during their regime is now opposing Land Bill tabled by NDA!!
Mangalkot, in the district of Burdwan, was gradually shifting side being inspired by the new wind of justice and fearlessness. This panicked the Harmads and local people were threatened by the local dons. In an encounter with the unarmed masses a notorious Harmad was killed on 15th June 2009 and the incident was followed by wanton murder, raping, looting and burning of houses of people who were shifting allegiance. For this purpose Harmads from other parts of the Burdwan district rushed to the area.
On 15th July, 2009, a team of Congress MPs (members of parliament) attempted to visit the place and restore peace in the area, they were attacked and chased by the Harmads before the eyes of the inactive police. This was aired in electronic media within few minutes; many of us seen the telecast of Mr. Manas Bhuiya running through paddy field fleeing the spot. Most of the MPs were wounded.
A Harmad armed camp was formed in the Netai area of the Lalgarh of West Midnapur during December 2010. CPM claimed that these camps sheltered CPM supporters who were evicted from their villages. According to the villagers the camp consisting of about 25 armed Harmads from outside was formed at the house of the local CPM leader Rathin Dandapat. After establishment of the camp at the village, the CRPF left the village leaving the helpless villagers at the hands of the notorious criminals.
The torture on the villagers started soon. They were forced to cook for and wash clothes of the Harmads. One man was forced to make 40 to 50 chapattis in a day. The members of the camp shouted at villagers for any mistakes in cooking, like more salt or better taste. The unarmed villagers were compelled to guard the armed men of the camp. One day they forced, at gun point, the villagers to participate in the rally of CPM. Unwillingly they were obeying all orders from the camp. Villagers were not spared and there were repeated orders from the camp to send young girls for the service of the Harmads. But people of this area, unlike those around the other camps, showed courage by not sending their females to the camps. Huge arms and ammunitions were also stockpiled in the camp.
On the first week of January, 2011, the Harmads issued an order that all villagers in the age group 18-35 should undergo arms training in the camp with a view to annihilating supporters or members of non-CPM parties. After that, on 6th January, the villagers unanimously decided that it was not possible to take arms training.
On 7th January around 2 thousand villagers out of four thousand populations gathered before the camp at 8 AM. The villagers and the camp members held discussions at the Bat-tala Chak which is 20 to 25 meter away from the camp or the house of Rathin Dandapat. They told the leaders of the camp that villagers were not willing to take arms training. After discussion of 15 to 20 minutes the leaders said that they required the consent of the higher party committee in this matter. In the name of consent of higher committee they called the armed Harmads from the other camps close to Netai. After few minutes, from south of the village some armed men entered the village. Then firing on the people started simultaneously from the camp and the incoming Harmads.
At least nine persons including four women were killed at the spot and hundreds were injures. The police force from the nearby Lalgarh police station came to the village after 6 hours of the incident allowing the Harmads to fire at the villagers for a long time and the police did not take any initiative to resist the incident from nearby police station. On the contrary, the police gave the murderers to get away from the place of the incident. The police also did not co-operate with the villagers to hospitalise the injured.
In March 2015, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya admitted that Netai was their fault!!
Well so far we tried to bring in front of our young readers about various names or incidents of West Bengal politics in Left Front regime. In our next article we will bring in front of our readers such names from TMC regime.