The Trinamool Congress Government has been running the State Government in West Bengal since May 2011. At the very outset, the Chief Minister’s strange instruction to the main opposition parties was to paste leucoplast on the mouth to keep mum for the next 10 years. However, during the months followed, what has been aptly revealed is that the undemocratic highhandedness of the present ruling regime is not targeted only to the political Opposition, but also directed to other sections of the society in the state. None is spared-- from talented girl students of Presidency University to innocent farmers of Junglemahal, not even school teachers, or college/ university professors, even celebrated artists who once took pro-‘Paribortan’ stand –-- are experiencing the same humiliation in one or another pretext. ‘If you are not with me you are against me’ – the ruling party in West Bengal seems to say.
The State of West Bengal is now a land of government-sponsored carnivals. But such jamborees are failing to suppress the sound of weeping of hungry workers of closed North Bengal tea gardens, increasing problems of hard-pressed transport workers or distress of hapless families of the farmers committing suicide. When asked about the priority of the TMC government the blunt response from the top is typically insensitive : ‘If we won’t organise festivals should we perform funeral rites”.
The state is now leading the country as per the record of crime against women. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data reveals that the state also tops the list of increasing rate of criminal cases in the whole country. Even the judge of the High Court has said that the state is burning. The Government is not paying any heed to the recommendations of statutory bodies like the State Election Commission or the State Human Rights Commission.
Anarchy in Education
What is happening in the field of education in West Bengal is nothing but an ‘improvised’ version of the semi-fascist terror tactics of the days during the 1970’s. The unfortunate practice of mass-copying in public examinations has once relapsed. The State Government has already imposed an ordinance was to dismantle the positive developments achieved in higher education during the days of the Left Front government. Now even the Vice- Chancellors in a number of State Universities were either removed or forced to resign by the TMC government in their own autocratic fashion. The pre-poll cry for de-politicization in education has turned truly into de-democratization drive. The experience of the one-year of the TMC-led Government has shown that the entire education system is under tremendous threat. On the one hand we have TMC miscreants in the campus beating up college professors and principals and student activists of opposition organizations, on the other hand we have the entire Government machinery acting in unison the destroy the democratic education system in the state. In the name of establishing democracy and doing away with party-rule, what the Mamata Banerjee Government has done is to try and capture the education sector by brazen nepotism and hooliganism at any cost.
The democratically elected administrative bodies of the Universities have been dismissed by the ordinance. Even the neutrality of the Government-nominated expert committee members in the fields of higher education has been contested by different stake holders. The TMC activists took part in poll campaigns have been picked up as ‘experts’. The elected Chairmen of District Primary Education Councils were compelled to resign to give way for the known TMC dadas. Known pro-TMC faces are posted to run bodies like West Bengal Council for Primary Education, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education and School Service Commission. The ruling party-sponsored musclemen are nominated by the state government to head the College Governing Bodies.
Educational institutions are prime targets of TMC-sponsored hooligans. Professors, teachers, students, non-teaching members of the staff are openly manhandled. The student organization of the present ruling party is desperate to put pressure on the teachers in schools and colleges to ensure promotion of students unable to qualify in the final examinations. A state of total misrule is prevailing. The CM announced that approval will be given to ten thousand new madrasahs. But in reality the Government has cancelled license of 40 running madrasahs. The scope in technical and vocational education has also shrunk. The Government has cancelled license of more than 40 vocational training institutes.
Security of women disappearing
The gang rape and killing of a college student in Kamduni village, barely 20 kilometres from Kolkata, is already known across the country. But instead of taking any substantive step against the culprits, the State Government is bent upon harassing the protesters. Even the ministers are hurling on filthy languages against the innocent villagers who are ready to bow down to the pressures from the ruling party leaders. In the Park Street rape case, in which Chief Minister had infamously declared the accusation to be “concocted”, the main accused is still at large, more than a year-and-a-half after the crime. The victim is yet to get any justice, but the lady police officer concerned in charge of investigation initially had to leave office soon after receiving a “routine” transfer order. The raped woman of Katwa had to give evidence that her husband had passed away 11 years ago.
A TMC MLA, himself a silver screen star passed ugly remarks about a girl molested in Barasat, the district headquarters in South 24 Parganas. The police officers in Jhargram asked about the character of the lady who wanted to lodge a complaint of molestation. In Kanaidighi village of Kanthi, Purba Medinipur district, a woman attempted suicide by consuming poison after she molested in front of her daughter. But no step was taken to in her favour. A national champion deaf and dumb athlete was raped in Hemtabad, in North Dinajpur district. The main accused here also is a TMC activist.
The leaders of Left women organizations in the state sought appointment of Home Secretary of the state government and the DG of the State Police force four times. But they are not finding any time to meet the women organizations. The state administration though led by the woman CM is reluctant to receive any deputation even to discuss issues related to incidents of gang rape.
The state administration is absolutely incompetent. In terms of population, the state of West Bengal accounts for 7.5% of India’s population. But the 12.7% of total incidents of atrocities against women took place in West Bengal. The data reveals that the police do not receive complaint or fail to file chargesheets in most of the cases. Recently, it is found that in 50 such cases, the police has deliberately conducted wrong investigations to ensure dismissal of the cases in courts. The latest NCRB record reveals that the number of cases of atrocities against women in West Bengal is more than any other state in the country. The Government is not even sending proper reports of such cases, though the rate of punishment is much low in comparison with other states. But to the West Bengal CM, the real cases of atrocities against women are ‘fake’ or ‘cooked up’ stories! The Ministers of the State Government are also continuing to pass filthy remarks targeting the victims. This only is emboldening the criminals and anti-social elements.
Don’t ask questions …
Shiladitya Chowdhury, a farmer from Belpahari, Paschim Medinipur district, was arrested for asking a simple question about the rising price of fertilizers in a meeting of the Chief Minister. Readily, the angry boss of the state administration identified Shiladitya as a ‘Maoist’ and ordered the police force from the stage to arrest the poor fellow. Ms. Tania Bharadwaj, a teen age student, was also termed as a ‘Maoist’ by the Chief Minister in a TV talk show. Prof. Ambikesh Mahapatra of Jadavpur University, was held by the police only for forwarding an e-mail in good humour.
The terror is so evident
Jiten Nandi, member of Garbeta Zonal Committee of CPI (M) was brutally murdered within 24 hours after the declaration of the results of the last Assembly election. In only eight days, during the period between declaration of election results and the swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet (13th – 20th May, 2011), eight CPI (M) workers were brutally killed by the TMC hoodlums. The CM told in the brigade rally that one would need to use a binocular to find out incidents of violence. But. Pradip Tah, former CPI (M) MLA and Kamal Gayen, veteran cultural activist were brutally mudered in Bardhaman in open day light by the armed goons of the ruling party. The persons accused in the murder case are now out of jail. Credit goes to the police! Dilip Sarkar, veteran CPI (M) leader and former MLA, was killed by TMC-sponsored goons in Barnpur before the Panchayat polls. But no one is arrested. In the vast areas of the state the opposition parties are not allowed to hold public meetings or rallies. TMC-backed goons are extorting money from common people. Unable to pay hefty amount claimed by the local TMC hooligans, many people have committed suicide in fear of facing the consequences. During the last two and a half years 140 workers of the parties belonging to the Left Front were murdered. Among them 52 persons belonged to the Minority Communities, 9 of them belonged to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, and 3 of them are women. In total,7387 people were injured in the incidents of attacks by the TMC hooligans. More than 100 women were molested to take political revenge by the ruling party activists. During the period, a total of 700 women were raped. Around 2000 offices of different Left political parties/ mass organizations and trade unions were ransacked and captured. A total of 44937 Left Front activists were ousted from their residences. More than 8000 Left activists, leaders and supporters were implicated in false and fabricated cases.
Cases of Police firing, Lathi charges and false cases
The trigger- happy state police even opened fire on unarmed people during agitations, even on people assembled in social gatherings. Five people including two women and a student of class five died in such cases. Six such incidents happened during the period. But in no case the Chief Minister criticized such police action. This is only legitimizing the police atrocities. Two women and a student of class five died in police firing at Magrahat. The police was given clean chit from the highest authority. The Chief Minister only defended the police force after an innocent woman was killed in police firing at Bogula in Nadia district. Police opened fire on displaced poor tribal people in Gajitala and Dewanghri of Haroa in South 24 Parganas. The police opened fire on farmers and patta holders without any provocation. Four farmers were injured and bleeding but they were not allowed to transfer to hospitals in time. The armed TMC hoodlums joined the police in attacking the poor farmers. One person was killed in Asansol, Bardhaman in police firing when they could not control a scuffle during the immersion of idols.
Bahurupi village of Bishoepur in Siuri witnessed police atrocity at its peak as they kicked at the abdomen of a three year old girl child. The police manhandeled women in Nasik village of Bhatar in Bardhaman. The men in uniform kicked at the abdomen of a pregnant woman. The police opened fire and charged tear gas shells indiscriminately on the villagers during their operation to bring back a digging machine of a private company at Loba village in Dubrajpur, Birbhum. The Chief Minister appreciated the police action. The CM also openly defended the police firing at Houlia of Tehatta in Nadia killing an innocent person.
Student leader dies in police custody
The Left student and youth organizations called for civil disobedience to protest the ban on students’ union elections in the state. Sudipta Gupta (23), leader of the SFI, also participated in the protest programme. The police started beating the agitators who were inside the bus on their way to the Presidency Jail. Sudipta was pushed out. He was grievously injured but was not spared by the police. Sudipta suffered a serious head injury. In fact he was mercilessly beaten. His head and face were fractured severely. Sudipta’s comrades rescued him and brought him to the SSKM hospital. He was not even provided with proper treatment. Sudipta succumbed to injuries. The Chief Minister termed the incident as a “petty matter”. The Left Front demanded a judicial enquiry of the custodial death of Sudipto Gupta. But, the TMC Government, as usual, is interested in nothing but hoodwinking the people.
1500 Party offices vandalized within 24 hours by TMC goons
West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra was heckled on 9 April 2013 by the protesters after giving provocation in New Delhi. The people who were gathered to register their protest against the custodial death of Sudipto Gupta. The top leaders of Left Front condemned the heckling of a minister. But the TMC hooligans in West Bengal under the instruction of their party bosses made it a point and started violent attacks on the workers of the CPI (M) and other Left parties.
On 9th and 10th April, 2013, more than 1500 offices of CPI (M) and its mass organizations were vandalized. Even offices of other Left parties were also attacked. In some places even Congress party offices were not also spared. Attacks were unleashed against CPI (M) leaders, several of them were ousted from home. The police as usual were busy in protecting the hooligans. Thus several parts of the state were made “TMC-only Zones” before the ensuing Panchayat polls.
Reign of terror in Panchayat elections and Municipal polls
The Left Front was not allowed to file nominations in more than 6000 seats in the last Panchayat elections. They were brutally attacked almost everywhere during the time of nomination paper filing. Even after that the LF candidates were forced under gun points in some cases to withdraw nomination papers; family members of the proposed opposition candidates were abducted, beaten brutally. There was no scope to seek security for the Opposition candidates. More than 3000 booths were captured in the five phases of the Panchayat elections. People could not cast their votes freely. The police did nothing to save 25 Left Front activists, including candidates, who were murdered during the Panchayat elections by the TMC goons. Even the election results were manipulated openly in counting stations. The State personnel were just silent spectators. The looting of votes was so severe that the State Election Commission administration has not been able to tally the record of votes till date. This is unprecedented in the history of panchayet elections in the state. The reign of terror continued even after the declaration of results. The TMC goons further threatened and unleashed attack on the elected members of the opposition even inside the government offices during the time of formation of boards. CPI (M) leader Jahangir Alam, who was elected President or Sabhapati of a Panchayat Samiti at Hasnabad in North 24-Parganas, was killed by the TMC miscreants to take control of the board.
Hasmat Sheikh, CPI (M) leader and newly elected Panchayat Samiti member in Farakka of Murshidabad district, was also brutally killed by the TMC goons. Ranjit Mistri , CPI (M) leader and the newly winning candidate of Narayanpur-I Gram Panchayat in Karimpur-II Block under Nadia district was also murdered to take control of the Gram Panchayat. The Kolkata High Court issued an order to the BDO of Haringhata, Nadia to explain the situation that resulted in restricting forcibly the elected members to form the board freely.
Such cases of hooliganism were repeated in the Municipal polls in Bardhaman, Chakdaha, Panihati and other places.
Democracy is at stake even in Assembly
The TMC Government is not ready to give due importance to the State Assembly. Previously, when the Left Front government was at the helm, the State Assembly was in session for not less than 60 days in a year on an average. Now it has come down to 24-25 days per year. One can hardly recall the absence of the Chief Minister during the question –answer session during the time of the Left Front government. But the present Chief Minister was present only once during question –answer session. She has given reply to only one question in the assembly during the last two and a half years.
The voice of the opposition is curbed on regular basis. The Left Front MLAs wanted to move an adjourning motion demanding protection for the investors of Saradha chit fund. But it was shocking to find that the Ministers and some of the TMC MLAs retaliated violently. A woman member of CPI(M) and former Minister Deblina Hembram was beaten up mercilessly. Gouranga Chatterjee, CPI (M) MLA, received head injury. What is happening in West Bengal is once again revealed from the fact that a judge in Alipore court had been “forced” recently by a TMC leader to change the judgment.
The State Government is forcibly enacting laws to centralize power. The democratic rights of the people guaranteed during the Left Front rule are curtailed undemocratically by the present government. This TMC-led Government is introducing laws only for privileged sections of the society. They are snatching power of the common people only to concentrate powers in the hands of the Ministers and bureaucrats.
Chit fund scam
The name of the Chief Minister and the TMC supremo is now linked with the Saradha chit fund scam which is the biggest such scam in independent India. The money invested by not less than one crore people is now vanished. The chit fund company has evidently grown steadily under the direct patronage of the TMC leaders. Even today the State Government has not attached the property of the chit fund companies. The State Government, instead, are trying to befool the people of the state in the name of so-called enquiries. The Chief Minister has no answer why she is against a CBI probe of the scam under the supervision of the Supreme Court. Why the State Government is not attaching the Saradah properties to pay back investors? They have no answer.
Parade of farmers’ suicide
During last two and a half years of TMC rule, 90 farmers and agricultural laborers have committed suicide facing the unbearable burden of loans. This quite new in West Bengal, never happened during 34 years of Left Front government. The Left Front Government used to collect paddy through cooperatives like BENFED, CONFED and self- help groups. But the new state Government is not following the same method. The farmers are now compelled to sale their crops to the middlemen at a price much lower than the cost of production. Agricultural labourers are also under crisis now. The people in the state are suffering from price hike of essential items including foods. The TMC-led Government is doing nothing. They are busy only with unleashing state-sponsored terror tactics to suppress popular demands and putting up big advertisements with tall claims and false statistics by wasting a huge public fund.