KOLKATA: The Pradesh Congress at the end of two successive days of vandalism with the people as the convenient ‘soft target,’ claimed ‘spontaneous’ success, over and over again, and then once more, on the airwaves, at the press meets.
Biman Basu, senior CPI (M) and Left Front leader has roundly condemned the disorder, chaos, violence and the suffering of the people.
We prefer here to list the misdeeds on 16 and 17 July (the latter was the ‘official’ bandh day) that were borne out of this spontaneity-- to the background noise of bombs bursting, glass panes smashed up, tyres deflated, and above all the deadly crackle of fire as arsonists went to work hard, having to toil that bit harder to ‘make up’ to the level of Trinamuli ‘actions’ of recent yore, and these were desperately attempted to be surpassed.
• More than 500 public vehicles were torched or otherwise damaged beyond repair, and these were the major incidents. An equally large number of privately owned vehicles were attacked and left more than just large dents.
• Post offices were ransacked, and who could be bothered that the postal service falls into the portal of the central government in which the Congress is the majority partner.
• SDOs and BDOs were heckled, in some cases roughly so, including the shameful jostling of a woman BDO in north Bengal.
• Sick and ailing persons including a busful of cancer patients on way to receiving their weekly radiation/chemotherapy were forcefully dragged out from vehicles, left in a bedraggled state wayside, and then made the target of choice invectives of the unprintable kind.
• Zillah Parishad members in western, central, and northern Bengal were made the subject of heckling, abuse, misaddressing, and were prevented from joining work.
• Kolkata was a scene of multi-point disorder as working people were made the target of abuse, shops forced to close down shutters, and all vehicles including, in some instances, ambulances and even the humble cyclerickshaws obstructed until in isolated instances, the police had to intervene.
• All examinations had to be cancelled including all-India service examinations, depriving the aspirants of perhaps what was once-in-a-lifetime chance-- for a better life.
To these must be added misdeeds having a touch of the macabre.
• In several places, in the metropolis, and perhaps elsewhere, small hotels and restaurants were broken into, the employees, crumbling inside with the fear of the worse, forced to cook, the food taken amidst many-a-whoop of joy by the merry men of the urban jungle, and then the establishments left, wrecked
• Stranded Railway and bus passengers were provided with a modicum of food and a gulp or two of water, agreed, and by the ‘strikers.’
• What, however, was the cost involved? We saw one particular incident ourselves at the Naihati station in north 24 Parganas.
• Shops were forced to part with eatables and bottled water, free and in large quantities.
• Of these, a token amount was then sold to the desperately starving long distance passengers at exactly 10 times the normal price.
• Then, the ‘job done,’ the shops were systematically looted with glee and amidst anti-Communist slogans, and then the shopkeepers forced to down shutters once more: bandh must be abided.
• In the laterite zone at Purulia, prisoners accused of heinous crimes were attempted to be snatched away from police custody by attacking the prison van, trying to overcome the successful resistance from the police personnel.
• As we file this report, the Pradesh Congress has not as yet described this particular incident as a case of ‘police brutality,’ small mercies for which we are always thankful.
‘We are coming back,’ rang out the Pradesh Congress leadership in boastful glee. The gradually ominously louder footfalls of the decade of the 1970s are clearly heard across Bengal.
Biman Basu said that the CPI (M) and the Left Front must organise an intense campaign amongst the youth to explain what the 1970s meant for the toiling masses of Bengal.