WEST BENGAL has been a hotbed of politics throughout the period of nationalist movement during the British rule in India. It is still maintaining that identity. Although after attaining freedom we had opted for democracy and by and large it has been working well but at the same time West Bengal has been experiencing violence throughout the period of our democratic activities. So, people of this State know that they cannot do away with violence. Violence on any plea will always be there. People say, “that is our fate”.
There is a proverbial utterance which says: “Communists never relinquish power without violence.” No matter they may have grabbed the power through democratic process. They have least respect for democracy. So, people of this State are always psychologically prepared to face violence. In fact when the ruling party (Left Front) had started feeling that their days are numbered, they had started chalking out new strategies for starting violence. Nandigram and Khejuri in East Midnapore district were the starting point in this respect. At one time partners of ruling conglomeration were hands in glove with so called terrorists and Naxalites.
In this matter, Trinamool Congress did not lag behind. At one stage they were also friendly with Naxalites and other terrorist groups. Through these groups they also stockpiled arms and ammunitions. There are other parties as well who have collected arms and ammunitions for self defence. But the stockpiling of arms and ammunitions by the Maoists reached a different height.
The arrest of important Maoist activists has revealed their secret plans of escalation of conflict zone covering almost whole of Sunderbans through Bangladesh border. Jangalmahal is a conflict zone, and naturally is in the focus of security forces. But apart from this particular Maoist zone, West Bengal has several other areas of conflict — Bhangar, Canning, Mandirtala and Kultali in South 24 Parganas, Sashan, Hingulgunge and Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas, Nandigram and Khejuri in East Midnapore, Arambagh and Goghat in Hooghly and some parts of Birbhum.
Here, rival criminal gangs, blessed and armed by political parties, have stockpiled arms and ammunition. “In all these places, both locals and police have witnessed the frequent use of long range rifles and muskets which need .315 bore bullets”, said a police officer. Since all these conflict areas are related to politics, the goons have no problem finding money to buy the bullets in the black market at three times the price.
Senior police officers have no answer to how these goons and gangsters procure such huge quantities of arms and ammunitions. “Certainly, they have contacts with gun runners. Bihar still plays the lead role in gun-running in India,” said a police officer. Police also admit that all previous efforts to flush out illegal arms went in vain due to lack of political will.
Through the latest raids and arrests, police has come to the conclusion that the Maoists are very much active in constructing a safe corridor from coastal West Bengal to Chhattisgarh through Gopiballavpur and Nayagram in West Midnapore, bordering East Midnapore and Odisha. Nandigram Maoist unit chief Madhusudan Mondal alias Narayan alias Selim and his henchmen Siddhartha Mondal and Rajesh Mondal, who were arrested in the city on June 29, 2010, were setting up the Maoist network in coastal South 24 Parganas, including the Sunderbans.
Narayan, who hails from Durgachak area of Haldia, has been involved with ultra Left politics joined Sangrami Sramik Mancha, a frontal organisation of CPM, as a youngster, and switched to the Naxalite organisation Party Unit (PU). Following the unification of PU and People’s War -Narayan shifted to the merged outfit People’s War Group (PWG) and later to CPI (Maoist). He played a key role in spreading the rebel organisation in Nandigram and Khejuri during the land acquisition rebellion, says police. He recruited hundreds of youths and sent some of them to Jharkhand and Jangalmahal for advanced training. Police reports suggest that Narayan had succeeded in setting up strong bases in Diamond Harbour, Kakdwip and parts of Sunderbans, which are still remote and isolated.
Widespread violence has spread throughout the State to serve the parochial political interest of the CPI (M). There are two facets of this design. One, they want to intimidate both people and their own wayward members and followers giving them the clear message that they are still in power and and nobody should try to underestimate their power. Two, they want to kill two birds at one shot. The procedure is so innocuous that no one can apparently doubt the motive behind it. After the consecutive defeats in electoral polls since 2008, CPI (M) realised that many of their members and followers were disgruntled with them and tried to get rid of the party discipline. Not only that, the goons and anti-social elements so long who were faithfully serving them, are trying to distance themselves from the party, for want of safety and security, they chalked out a plan to victimise them.
The murder of four-time CPM MLA Ananda Das is a vivid testimony of this design. Firstly, the ruling party, in their statement, released immediately after the murder, held Trinamool Congress responsible for this murder. Secondly, for some time, Ananda Das was not cooperating with the party line. This was a annoying factor for the CPM in the Nanoor area from where Das was elected as MLA. The CPM thought that as a most revered person of the area, his murder would create a strong reaction against those persons whom they (CPM) have termed as murderers. Unfortunately for them, this did not click.
Let me quote a report from Times of India published on July 2, 2010 and the report was filed by Someswar Boral from Nanoor, for the benefit of the readers.
“For the last few years the four-time MLA from Nanoor, Ananda Das, had stayed away from the CPM, of which he was a member for more than two decades. Though Das had never severed links with the party, he had not been in the forefront either in recent times. A day after he was brutally murdered at his residence, a section of the Birbhum District CPM claimed that Das was on the way to be rehabilitated in the party organisation and that could have led to the killing.”
Das’s assailants were no outsiders. They were aware of the CPM leader’s whereabouts because these anti-socials had at one time served the ruling front partners, including CPM, and switched loyalties sensing the change in the direction of the wind.
(Writer was a Member of Press Council of India, 1998-2001)