Even after one month since the Assembly Elections in West Bengal, the incidences of political violence, intimidation and exploitation are far from being over. Every day new and more horrific stories of atrocities are coming out. The Alapan Bandhopadhyaya case is good enough to understand how the bureaucracy of the entire state has been politicised, including the police machinary. More than three thousand villages have witnessed the atmosphere of intimidation and violence, affecting more than forty thousand Hindu families. At least, hundred and sixty-two cases of crime against women, including rapes, are reported. More than 30 political murders have taken place, and most of the victims are SCs and STs.
Unfortunately, most intellectuals who ironically believe that “BJP workers deserve to be killed as they support the fascist thinking” decided to whitewash this blatant murder of democracy by choice. There is a set of people, especially in West Bengal, who themselves are afraid of and, therefore, not ready to utter a word against the politico-religious pogrom. For many outside Bengal, this one-sided political repression is just a fight between the BJP and TMC for the political space. There are concrete reasons to consider Bengal violence as a national issue.
Though political violence and murders are not new to West Bengal, with more than four decades of Communist legacy, what is happening now is much more severe and grave. Earlier struggle used to be between workers and office bearers of the political parties, mainly to keep the flock together. In the present scenario, ordinary voters are on the radar for voting or supporting the BJP. Rural Bengal sees something drastically different where houses are taken over, sometimes bulldozed. Ordinary Bengalis have to pay a heavy price to return to their own villages, even sacrificing the honour of women in their families.
Bengal also has a history of communal tensions. Since the religious partition of 1905 by the British Raj, there have been series of riots, killings and forced migrations. One was hoping that the religious question of Bengal is settled once and for all after the partition. Unfortunately, first because of tensions with West Pakistan and then after the creation of Bangladesh, persecution of Hindus continued. The changing demography in the bordering areas and incidences like the burning of Kaliachak police station in Malda were the grim reminders of the unfinished agenda of the Muslim League. Now, it is a revival of 1936 to 1947 politics of the Muslim radicals to drive away Hindus and completely uproot the Bengali tradition of the renaissance. Under the garb of TMC cadres, the Muslim goons, Bangladeshi and Rohingya illegal migrants are using all possible tricks to loot and intimidate people. The politicised administration has been a mute spectator. The committed voters are given a free hand for grabbing all possible things as per their will.
Bengal historically has been a land of all kinds of political thoughts, from reformists to revolutionaries. As one of the legendary freedom fighters, Gopal Krishna Gokhale assessed more than a hundred years ago, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” He was certainly not talking about this intolerant, undemocratic and violent Bengal. If we apply his assessment for the present day, it is a recipe for disaster. The Frankenstein effect of such cycle of violence is always suicidal, and it would eventually kill the political ambition of Mamata Banerjee of becoming a national level challenger to the BJP. Can she project herself nationally with this violent, radicalised mob culture? She is killing the accommodative and rational culture of Bengal, which will eventually damage Bharat as well. As articulated by Gurudev Rabindra Nath Thakur, the spirit of Bharat has been accommodating and essentially Hindu that respects all ways to be true. All the concerned citizens, as done by the lawyers, breaucrats and academicians,should raise their voice for saving the real spirit of Bengal and Bharat.