West Bengal violence a new low in Indian politics
In the week-long mayhem, 37 BJP workers were allegedly killed, hundreds sustained injuries, shops were looted, houses burnt and women assaulted by TMC goons.
Published: 04th July 2021 05:00 AM | Last Updated: 03rd July 2021 02:45 PM | A+A A-
Within hours of the Trinamool Congress returning to power on May 2, violence was let loose targeting BJP supporters. It was no surprise given the ferocity of campaign, but the scale and brazenness of vengeance was. In democracy, parties lose and win elections but winners never seek retribution against rivals. DMK (Tamil Nadu), CPI(M) (Kerala), BJP (Assam) and NDA (Puducherry) that went to polls simultaneously, did not go around attacking their opponents viciously. But Mamata Banerjee’s TMC is different. Its patience with the multi-party system runs very low.
In the week-long mayhem, 37 BJP workers were allegedly killed, hundreds sustained injuries, shops were looted, houses burnt and women assaulted by TMC goons. Thousands of BJP supporters fled to Assam, Odisha and Jharkhand to escape bloodshed. It was an exodus independent India had never witnessed. The number of incidents and refugees can be contested but not the evidence of state’s involvement and fear created by Banerjee’s footsoldiers.
The police remained spectators as violence rocked Cooch Behar, Birbhum, South and North Bengal, North 24 Parganas and North Dinajpur districts. Desperate appeals for security and registration of FIRs went unheeded, provoking Calcutta High court to remark that the state did not inspire confidence and asked NHRC to name officers who acted deaf and dumb. Banerjee neither condemned violence nor made any announcement for victims’ rehabilitation. She also showed no sagacity to visit refugees’ camps and persuade them to return home. Instead, she asked for stay on the HC order for NHRC probe in post-poll violence. Apparently, her administration had a lot to hide.
The impact of the TMC’s clarion call—‘join us if you want to live’—was instant. Mukul Roy, a TMC defector, was the first to bolt from the BJP to escape relentless persecution. As many as 300 workers in Birbhum were tonsured and made to drink ‘Gangajal’ to cleanse themselves of BJP’s evil influence. In North Dinajpur, 435 defectors re-joined TMC after they were sanitised of ‘BJP virus’. Hundred others hit roads, begging forgiveness. Villagers of Nanoor, Bolpur and Sainthia sat on indefinite dharna seeking reinduction as ongoing developmental projects had suddenly been stalled. More desertions are likely for sure. No one will stick to a party that cannot ensure his physical security.
Two Bengali justices of the Supreme Court were also not immune from the looming fear. Worried over their families’ welfare in Kolkata, they recused themselves from hearing pleas by victims for a court-monitored probe in violence. Bangla media was equally petrified. It barely covered the disturbing events. Lalu Yadav had employed fear as a weapon before, to crown Bihar as ‘wild east of India’. What kind of state Mamata Banerjee bequeathes to her posterity, only time will tell.
Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)