January 9, 2013

Condemn Attack on CPI(M) Leader Rezzak Mollah

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the physical assault on Comrade Abdur Rezzak Mollah, member of the West Bengal State Committee of the CPI(M) and MLA.  Rezzak Mollah was assaulted by a Trinamul Congress leader Arabul Islam and others while visiting a Party office which had been burnt down  by the TMC men.  Rezzak Mollah received injuries to his face and has been hospitalized. 

This is the latest instance of the continuing violence by the Trinamul Congress against the CPI(M), the Left parties and the opposition. The CPI(M) demands that the TMC leader and others responsible for the attack be immediately arrested. 

The Polit Bureau appeals to  all democratic forces to raise their  voice of protest against the thuggish violence indulged in by the Trinamul Congress in West Bengal.  

Date:  7 January 2013 

Why Mamata puts up with Arabul Islam

By Monotosh Chakraborty, TNN | Jan 8, 2013, 01.44 AM IST

BHANGAR: The attack on CPM veteran Abdur Rezzak Mollah has bared the underbelly of the gory politics in the bheri lands (wetlands) of South 24-Parganas.

Bhangar, a mere 28km from the city, was under the writ of Mollah's party for years. Now, Trinamool Congress strongman Arabul Islam calls the shots.

Arabul, a former MLA, is the prime accused in the attack on Mollah - yet another criminal charge in a long list of pending cases, from criminal intimidation to attempt-to-murder. According to police, none of the cases have been dropped though Arabul has got bail in some.

The CPM has demanded his arrest within the next 24 hours. "We will wait for the administration to act by Tuesday noon. Else we will stage a dharna in front of the police superintendent's office," said Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra.

The condemnation of Arabul across political lines has come as a ray of hope to a woman from Bhangar, who was driven out of her home and hearth in August and forced to take shelter in New Town, Rajarhat, with her husband.

"Some men, led by Arabul, beat me up at Satulia bazar in front of everyone, tore off my sari and blouse, and attacked my private parts. They dragged me to the local dumping ground thinking I was dead. That was on August 28," she told TOI on Monday. She went to Kashipur police station to lodge a complaint but in vain. "Police did not initiate an inquiry till I moved Alipore court. On hearing my complaint, the chief judicial magistrate directed the officer-in-charge to start a case," she said.

While the traumatized woman had to wait till October for the police to start an inquiry, the man who is accused of "leading the attack" is unfazed. "I do not know of any such complaint. You can check with the local police," said Arabul.

Kashipur Police, however, recognised the complaint. "Yes, a complaint was made by (TOI is withholding the name) though her injury report doesn't confirm all the elements of the complaint, or Arabul's having a hand in it," a police officer said. But he has not sent the report to the court, saying the complaint is untrue.

The entire episode goes against the chief minister's directive to police to take a complaint as and when a victim comes to the police station.

However, the rules of the game changed when a woman known to Arabul went to Kashipur police station to complain about a family dispute. While the sub-inspector on duty took a few minutes to record the complaint, Arabul angrily stepped into the police station and slapped the officer. This was within days of the molestation complaint lodged against the Trinamool leader. As usual, the police officer bore with the assault.

The Trinamool chief - who showed "zero tolerance" to pay leaders Meer Taher Ali and the others who swayed with girls and showered money on them at the party's foundation day at Bhangar - has been bearing with Arabul for long. Is it because Mamata needs Arabul for the coming panchayat polls?

Mamata's infinite tolerance for this infamous leader from Bhangar has raised questions even among Trinamool circles. There was not a word of caution from the Trinamool leadership when Arabul, the president of Bhangar College, barged into the staff room in April last year and allegedly threw a jug full of water at lecturer Debjani Dey.

Former Union minister Saugata Roy gave vent to his disgust at a meeting of college principals held at Ashutosh College. Trinamool minister Rabi Ranjan Chattopadhyay had also spoken against Arabul. However, the CM kept mum while education minister Bratya Basu threw his weight behind Arabul.

Bhangar MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah hospitalized after Bhangar mob violence

TNN Jan 7, 2013, 02.07AM IST

BHANGAR (SOUTH 24-PARGANAS): Political violence touched a new nadir on Sunday afternoon when former CPM minister and present Bhangar MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah was allegedly assaulted by a mob led by ex-Trinamool Congress MLA Arabul Islam at Katatala in the Kolkata Leather Complex police station area.

As Mollah's jeep reached the spot at 12.20 pm, a large group of Trinamool men broke away from a meeting and rushed towards the vehicle with bamboo sticks. While the jeep's windscreen was smashed, Mollah was allegedly punched by Arabul. As he collapsed to the ground, the mob kicked and hit him on the stomach and chest for about seven minutes, even as his lone security guard and driver watched helplessly. A severely injured and bleeding Mollah "he has a deep gash under his eye and a cut on his lips apart from a hip injury” was rescued by two policemen. He was put into the damaged vehicle and taken to the Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences.

A hospital official said some teeth on Rezzak's lower jaw have been broken and he was bleeding from his lower lip where two stitches were given. His ECG has been done and further X-rays will be carried out on Monday.

Municipal and urban development minister Firhad Hakim rubbished the charge, saying that Mollah was only pushed by some people. He denied that Trinamool supporters had attacked Mollah and his men.

The assault, coming in the wake of a series of CPM-Trinamool clashes across the state, was played down by the Trinamool leadership. The party claimed it was a drama staged by CPM to defame the state government. CPM has planned a sit-in at Alipur demanding the arrest of the culprits within 48 hours.

Mollah had gone to Katatala to inspect a party office, which was burnt down on Saturday night. CPM alleged it was done by Trinamool-backed miscreants. "I was told by the women of Katatala that Arabul and his associates have been looting and torturing them. So I assured them that I would visit them. That is why I had gone there," Mollah said in hospital.

Mollah's driver Amar Ghosh, who also suffered minor injuries, said the assault was pre-planned. "As we were close to the party office around 12.20 pm, we found a small gathering. They suddenly started running towards us. They were carrying bamboo sticks. They first smashed the glass windscreen. Rezzak Mollah opened the door and got down but before he could say anything, a blow landed on his face, leaving him bleeding," he said.

Ghosh said after Mollah fell down, they kept kicking him. His security guard made a futile attempt to save him, but was vastly outnumbered by Arabul's supporters.

In the evening, Ghosh lodged a complaint against eight persons, including Arabul Islam, Pradip and Kalu at the Kolkata Leather Complex police station. Trinamool has also planned to lodge a counter-complaint against Mollah.

At a hurriedly convened press conference at Trinamool Bhavan, Hakim said it was a drama staged by Mollah, who had gone to the spot ignoring a request from the administration to the contrary. "We had a street-corner meeting and Arabul was delivering his speech. Suddenly Rezzak Mollah reached the spot and hurled filthy abuses. It led to tension and a scuffle broke out. If there was an attack by 3,000-4,000 people we had there, Mollah might not have reached the hospital ever," Hakim said.

Hakim also alleged that the CPM party office was burnt down by its own members to malign the administration. Sauqat Mollah, once a close aide of Mollah and now a Trinamool leader in Bhangar, said: "Only on January 1, our party (Trinamool) office was ransacked and burnt down. Since then, there was tension in Katatala. Mollah went there just to add fuel to fire."

A senior police officer admitted that Mollah had informed the administration about his visit to Katatala. He also confirmed that police personnel had rescued Mollah from the irate mob.

CPM leader Kanti Ganguly said the attack was pre-planned. Before the assault, Arabul and his henchmen had asked shops to down their shutters, he said. "This is part of a game plan before the panachayet elections to unleash fear among the electorate," Ganguly said.

Amid the demand for the arrest of Arabul by senior Left Front leaders like Biman Bose, Surjya Kanta Mishra, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharjee and Subhas Naskar, Hakim said: "If Arabul Islam is arrested, then Rezzak Mollah would also be arrested for an even worse offence."

Rebel Trinamool MP Kabir Suman said he was feeling ashamed about the assault. "What is happening? I am feeling ashamed and I apologize to Rezzak Mollah. If the allegations that have been raised against him are true, Arabul Islam is out of his mind. What's wrong with him? Can't he understand what a wrong message he is sending to the grassroots Trinamool men?" 

Mamata Govt: Setbacks aplenty in honeymoon year

By Pratim Ranjan Bose

The Hindu Business Line
29th December, 2012

Kolkata, Dec 28: Ideally, 2012 should have been a honeymoon year for the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress Government in West Bengal.
For a party formed in 1998, Trinamool had not merely won the May 2011 elections with absolute majority but had also displaced a three-decade old CPI (M)-led Left Front Government.
The credit for this change in regime goes entirely to Banerjee. Ever since her victory in the 1984 General Elections (as a Congress nominee), she had emerged as the most credible face of the Opposition in the State.
She studied each and every move of her arch rival carefully and, repeated the same tactics in her favour. And, since she has not been indoctrinated with any known ideology, her doors were open to everyone, from far Left to Right, as long as they opposed the CPI (M).
So, when the former Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya Government, in its haste to industrialise the State, antagonised the party’s rural support base, Banerjee utilised it to build a strong anti-land acquisition campaign — more or less on similar lines as the Left did in the 1960s.
Careful to protect her image, she had always held extreme positions — as in declining the last ditch attempt of the Left Front Government to strike a compromise deal with the agitating farmers at Singur — but promised to have a model in store to make everyone happy.
Though there is lack of clarity in the new Act, land should be returned to unwilling farmers in Singur. Government will not acquire land but investment should come in droves. The State coffers may be empty but development will happen through PPP model and so on.

Cookie crumbles
But, the world clearly did not move the way Banerjee wanted .
The court struck down a slew of legislations ranging from the Singur Act (for taking over land from the possession of Tata Motors and redistribute it to unwilling farmers) to amendments in the cooperatives Act.
A series of Government actions, such as closing down a private medical college or disbanding police unions were reversed by the judiciary.
Investments — except those initiated during the Left regime — have largely eluded the State. On the contrary, West Bengal had lost committed investments from at least one IT major, due to Banerjee’s anti SEZ policy.
Collective investment schemes (popularly referred as ‘chit funds’), each mopping up thousands of crores of rupees a year — either illegally or using legal loopholes — have mushroomed, promising sky high returns from the investors.
The end result is that the State’s small savings inflow has taken a hit, leading to further impact on West Bengal’s dwindling finances.

On the firing line
It would be incorrect to say that Banerjee was all wrong in her actions and assumptions. But, she suffered from two major shortcomings: Intolerance to opposition or criticism and, major inadequacies in party administration.
The result: Within one and a half year in power and, another few months to go before Panchayat polls, the Trinamool is now facing allegations of widespread corruption, from within.
News of clashes between different party factions keeps pouring in. Examples of multiple Trinamool unions — owing allegiance to different leaders — in the same organisation, are aplenty.
In Singur the party leaders are now faced with angry protestors. The farmers are now left with neither money nor land. Rabindranath Bhattacharya, three-time MLA from the constituency, since 2001, has quit the State cabinet.
One MP fell out with the leadership almost a year ago . Another MLA criticised the one-upmanship in the party and was recently suspended. In-fighting is spreading even at the block levels.
And, expectation is rife in the political circles that even a slightest decline in Trinamool’s electoral fortunes in the Panchayat polls may accentuate the troubles.

Lessons not learnt
Going by the feedback on social networking sites, Trinamool’s popularity is waning especially among the urban youth. Even some party veterans admit to these concerns, albeit behind closed doors.
But, it is difficult to gauge whether Banerjee takes such concerns seriously. For the moment, she is banking on distributing bicycles to girls from minority sections or donating sickles (used in harvesting the crop) and agri tools to keep her rural vote bank intact.
Though the fiscal strain has intensified, she recently announced more jobs as well as higher pay (DA) to Government employees. She could have offered more if the Centre had allowed the State to pile up more debt disregarding the fiscal responsibility pact.
And, every embarrassment to her Government — be it rape incidents or tribal protest against land acquisition by a coal miner — are readily described as “conspiracy” of the CPI (M) or “sections of media” to malign the Government.