The CPM in West Bengal during its 35-years of misrule, have been using the instrument of mass killing, genocide and State sponsored terror to silence any opposition or any other movement that started to grow with grass roots support in their State. With the arrest of their strongmen and former Tamluk MP Lakshman Seth from a hideout in Mumbai on March 17 in connection with his role in the massacre of Nandigram farmers in 2007 and with Mamata Banerjee also announcing the formation of a one-man commission to probe the daylight burning and killing of 17 Ananda Margi workers in a main south Calcutta thoroughfare in 1982, the ghosts of their genocidal past have come back to haunt the comrades.
The national media has, as usual, downplayed these developments, their only obsession being the possible creation of a third front in future and the Left’s role in it!
The one-man enquiry commission on the Ananda Margi massacre is to be headed by retired Justice Santosh Kumar Foujdar and has been asked to submit a report within six months. While Seth – a three term CPI(M) Lok Sabha Member and the one to spark the Nandigram conflagration through an ‘out-of-turn land acquisition notice’ – on the run since December 2011 was finally nabbed with his other CPI(M) comrades from a Mumbai guest house of the Ramky Infrastructure Ltd, a Hyderabad based company. Interestingly it is this same company that had struck a deal with the Haldia Development Authority (HDA) for a 2,500 acres land transfer to set up an SEZ at Mahishadal near Tamluk in 2007-08.
Seth who was then heading the HDA and his wife Tamalika an MLA in the area had strongly pitched in for the deal and had promised the land transfer. Known for his strong-arm tactics, Seth, the quid pro quoist par excellence, had amassed a huge empire and controlled the entire stretch through terror and mayhem always sticking out his tongue at law enforcers, and rights groups who protested his ways. His dadas at the party State headquarters, in their typical laissez-faire style, were only too happy to let things be as long as Lakshman contributed to the coffers. Human lives, farmer’s livelihood, and even minority rights (a large number of farmers in the area belong to the Muslim community) and welfare were all dispensable commodities in this grand game of running the proletarian empire. In a sense the de-ideologisation of the comrades and the Party which had accelerated in a twelve year period between 1977 and 1989 (Prafulla Chakrabarti, Marginal Men, Naya Udyog, Calcutta, 1999) reached its culmination in 2007 with Seth’s crackdown and brutal killing of Nandigram farmers. Incidentally Nandigram is one of those very spots which had witnessed some of the first land movements undertaken by the comrades in the State since 1946.
For carrying out his hatchet-job Seth used the comrades’ latest ‘weapon of terror’ in their arsenal the ‘Harmad Vahini or armed goons.’ The ‘Harmad Vahini’, the comrades’ cherished instrument of terror can be likened to the ‘Storm Troopers of the Nazi Party’ and their “job is to ‘capture’ areas under the influence of the Opposition parties, kill or drive away their workers and supporters and consolidate the rule of the party.” The comrades decided to form the Harmad Vahini after the people ‘started shedding their fear and organising resistance to foil the CPI(M)’s determined bid to abrogate the regime of the rights of the people.’ (Barun Das Gupta, ‘CPM Abrogated the Regime of People’s Rights’ in Mainstream Weekly, vol.XLIX, No.14, March 26, 2011). Using this weapon of terror Seth unleashed mayhem on the hapless villagers of Nandigram, trying to compel them to part with their land. He has been accused of the killing of six villagers during the‘re-capture’ of Nandigram. His comrades and dadas now say that the law will take its own course. We earnestly hope that it does. It will be also relevant to recall in this context that a few months after the massacre, as if to rub salt into the Nandigram farmers’ gashes ‘card carrying member of the politically correct club’ and ‘non-resident-Bengali’ the articulate comrade Brinda Karat in a public meeting in Kolkata publicly called for administering the ‘Dum Dum Dawai’ (public thrashing, direct mob action) to anyone opposing the State government. Such an articulation came naturally to comrade Brinda because of the Communists’ intrinsic belief in the use of violence for settling socio-political logjams and because of their inveterate hatred and aversion for the constitutional process.
An editor of a leading television channel who had, with great publicity, undertaken ‘self-discovery’ visits to Gujarat early this year in order to understand and empathise with the ‘discriminated’ would have done well to also focus on these crucial developments that were exposing the communists’ gory past.
From mass killings, to encounters, to kidnapping, to intra-political liquidations and eliminating persons they could no longer control, the comrades had mastered all techniques and in their party State made use of these with Stalinist efficiency. It was under them in West Bengal and not in Gujarat that fascism attained great heights of perfection. To cite one prominent example, as recent as May 2011, the Governor of West Bengal, MK Narayanan had again enquired into the details of the sensational case of Mrs. Manisha Mukherjee Assistant Controller of Examinations at the University of Calcutta who has been missing for over one and a half decades now. Mrs. Mukherjee’s records at the University show her as “missing” and her dues still lie unclaimed. (Arunima Ghosh, ‘Dues Unclaimed of ‘missing’ assistant controller of exams’, The Statesman, Kolkata, May 23, 2011) Mukherjee who went missing from in front of her apartment in September 1997 was close to a number of influential comrades and her university colleagues have often said that she was being forced into manipulating examination records and commit other acts against university norms. It was her eventual resistance to such subterfuge that seems to have led to her disappearance. A police enquiry into the disappearance was soon closed due to ‘lack of evidence’ and the entire episode brushed under the carpet. A furore that swept for awhile fell gradually silent with the comrades deftly silencing their critics and whistle-blowers with threats and doles. An Assistant-Controller of Examination of one of the oldest universities of the country who was close to the party establishment went missing and the comrades simply whistled away. The comrades’ records of governance are also replete with examples of party supported abductions and murders. And a number of enquiry commissions would have to be instituted by the current regime to unearth the truth behind these.
The brutal murder on Holi day in 1984 of the dynamic 35 year old IPS officer Vinod Kumar Mehta then DC of the Calcutta Port Division by Muslim goons known to be protégés of a Left front minister active in the illegal trade in the area still rankles in public memory. Mehta had dared to take head-on the comrades supported port mafia and their external masters and paid the price with his life. Nobody was punished and one of those arrested for the killing, one Idris Mian, ‘died’ in custody. In fact custodial deaths had gradually become the norm under the comrades’ rule. (Tathagata Roy edited, Democracy in Peril, Kolkata, 2003, Srila Sen, ‘The Left and Democracy’ in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 26, No. 46, November 16, 1991) In order to successfully run the dark empire the comrades repeatedly took recourse to the third degree!
The murder of the Ananda Margis is even more heart-rending and had the episode received adequate and sustained coverage it would have gone down in the world annals of genocides as a unique example of a party sponsored and State supported programme. During the 1970s and 80s the Ananda Margis had begun developing wide grass-roots network in the State. The comrades seeing this as a direct challenge to their atheistic stranglehold on the proletariat seems to have decided to set things right in their style. On the fateful morning of April 30, 1982 as a delegation of 17 Ananda Margis from all over the country was making its way towards their global head-quarters then situated in a South Kolkata suburb to attend a conference on education a group of hooligan comrades goaded by the local CPI(M) MLA suddenly intercepted the party, dragged out the monks and the nuns, beat them up and dousing them with gasoline set them on fire. Fifteen monks and two nuns perished, their bodies charred beyond recognition. The then Chief Minister the quintessential ‘bhadralok’ Comrade Basu referring to the ‘incident’ nonchalantly remarked that it was a case of public anger against those people thought to be child-lifters. The only thing that the Chief Minister – who nearly became Prime Minister and with whom leaders of all political hues easily supped – did was to order a judicial enquiry into the ‘incident’. A one man commission under a Calcutta High Court Judge Samarendra Deb was set-up and was asked to give a report within a year but after a few sitting it was ‘allowed to die a natural death.’ Sources in the Kolkata police knew that the massacre took place at the behest of some CPI(M) leaders and was a pre-meditated act, otherwise how does one, argues one of them, explain a ‘mob carrying cans of petrol at 7 in the morning?’ The police under political pressure kept silent and the response from the Left intelligentsia which was a silent witness to its administration massacring citizens in broad daylight was muted. It did not organise workshops, exhibitions or fasts to protest the heinous crime. (Sabyasachi Bandyopadhyay, ‘A Cult killed twice’, The Indian Express, Kolkata, 29 August, 2004, Rudrangshu Mukherjee, ‘Five Black Holes of Bengal’, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 2 December, 2007, Das Gupta, op.cit.) One of the goriest episodes in Independent India’s political history was quietly suppressed and erased from national memory. The comrades have themselves committed all the acts of violence and terror that they profess to oppose and eradicate and all their moral posturing notwithstanding in their years in power they have developed and perfected some of the most dreaded instruments and methods of collective violence and genocide.
In fact ever since she has come to power, Mamata Banerjee, displaying great political mettle, is trying to unearth the records of Communist terror in the State. Within days of taking over the reins of power she had announced the formation of a commission to probe the Sainbari killing of March 17, 1970 in the district of Barddhaman where a group of comrades then desperate to establish its sway over the district hacked to death brothers belonging to the Congress. Brothers Malay and Pranab had sat down to a meal with their mother when they were butchered and the attackers left after smearing their mother’s face with her dead sons’ blood. Ever since the blood-curdling event the family was forced to move out, eke out a miserable existence and face constant threat from the party. Even four decades after the episode justice still eludes them while documents related to the case have strangely gone missing from the High Court. A veteran comrade minister then operating at the district level was believed to have been the mastermind behind the heinous crime. (Victims Recall Sainbari horror, Times of India, March 17, 2011) While announcing the commission Banerjee had remarked, ‘some may have forgotten the Sainbari episode, but we have not forgotten the red terror and want a thorough probe into it.’ It is hoped she will remember many more such episodes and unearth their bloody truths and draw the actual portrait of the comrades and finally expose their myth of having created the proletariat’s paradise in India. It is also hoped that a similar commission of enquiry shall be eventually instituted to probe the Marijchanpi mass killing by the then newly elected Communist government in West Bengal in 1977. It is another episode without parallel in Independent India’s democratic history where an elected Communist government using its State machinery isolated, starved, raped, killed and dumped around ten thousand Dalit refugees from Bangladesh who had come at their behest to seek refuge in West Bengal. The exact figure will never be known but it has been estimated that around 4,000 odd families perished in the entire operation and the bodies of those who died in the attack were dumped into the sea and rivers for sharks to feast upon. (Sukharanjan Sengupta & Madhumay Pal, Marichjhanpi: beyond and within, Frontpage Publication, Kolkata, 2011, Eric Randolph, The Marichjhanpi Massacre & the End of the Left, Current Intelligence, May 26, 2011)
No duly elected government in India can ever match the comrades’ record of violence and murder. But all these years with their glib political talk and pseudo-moral posturing they have succeeded in creating a smokescreen over their evil deeds and in escaping retribution. It is of utmost national importance that the memories of these massacres are kept alive in the national psyche for posterity and for generating a mass momentum to render the comrades eventually ineffective and irrelevant. They can be never relied upon with the functioning of a constitutional democracy.