Khanki magi (bloody whore)… Mujaffar ki bahu hai … Mujaffar ke saath soti hai…Jaisi tumhari hindu devi maa Kaali nangi hai.. waise hi tumko nanga karenge.. rape karenge…Jo tumahre Hindu bhagwaan hai .. Jo tumhare thakur Jai Sri Ram aur Kaali hain… Kaali aur Ram ki gaand marenge….”
These were the filthy abuses and threats given to Pinky Baj, age 34, resident of Jaygram, village, North Parganas, West Bengal. Her crime? Being a supporter and polling agent for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
The evening of May 2, when Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress came back to power is the day Pinky and her 17-year-old son will never forget. In her complaint to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, New Delhi, Pinky has narrated the nightmare that unfolded following TMC’s return to power on May 2.
The harassment had begun long before. Pinky, a Schedule Caste, was the BJP polling agent on April 17 and TMC agents started abusing her at the polling booth, threatening that when their party would come to power, they would shoot her in the open, and rape her before doing so. On that very day, while on the way home after polling got over, Pinky and her son were allegedly confronted by Mujaffar Baidya, Mahabur Baidya, Akhar Bhagi, Aja Mullah, Labawali gazi and her 17-year-old son was brutally thrashed.
Constant threats followed, along with the filthiest abuses.
“They have tortured me physically, mentally and attacked my religious belief by abusing my God. It is such a humiliation that I cannot forget it ever in my life.”
Pinky states she and her son somehow managed to run away from the village. But the humiliation for the family did not end there.
Her husband, Sadhan Baj, who works outside the village, tried to sort out things and called up Mujaffar saying, “My wife does BJP…. I don’t …… let me come to my house village.” He was told, “Pahle apni patni ko mere haath mein de, phir gaon mein aane dega, Apni biwi ko mere ko de, tab tu gaon aa sakta hai”. (First send your wife to me so I can sexually exploit her then you will be allowed to enter the village).
All she wants is justice and for these criminals to be punished.
Pinky is not alone. And it did not end with just threats. There have been countless such horror stories of women stripped, paraded naked, raped and even murdered.
MUSLIM MAN RAPES WOMAN HIS MOTHER’S AGE
One Rape Survivor, resident of Barotola in Khejuri Vidhan Sabha. The evening of June 2 will remain etched in her mind as one of horror and abject humiliation. That evening, the rape survivor says, some Muslim boys came to her house and threatened her to leave her house. Her crime? Being a BJP worker. They told her that she could return after 5 years, if the BJP formed the government in Bengal. “Later during the night, they came back and dropped a bomb in front of my house. The next day, they dropped another bomb.”
KHELA HOBE IN BENGAL
The Union ministry of home affairs sought a report from the Bengal government over reports of this post-poll violence in West Bengal. A delegation of the Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA) led by convener Monika Arora, Advocate, Supreme Court of India, presented a fact-finding report on post-poll violence in Bengal titled as “Khela in Bengal 2021” before Union Minister of State G Kishan Reddy.
Talking about the post-poll violence and rampant crimes against women in Bengal, Arora says, “We have over hundred statements and all these statements relate with the fact that it was targeted violence by TMC and Jihadi elements against BJP, RSS, booth level workers, Scheduled Caste, Schedule Tribes, women and most marginalized sections. The method adopted was Khela Hobe, Khela Hobe, where the entire mob used to start from one place, throwing bombs, vandalizing, and looting the houses, attacking the men with sharp weapons, dandas and iron rods, sexually assaulting and raping the women.
Children are also the sufferers here who saw these scenes of violence.
Talking about those who had to leave their homes fearing their lives, Arora says, “Now for people who fled away from their houses, three conditions are put before them, only after fulfilling them, they can return home. Number one, pay money—anything between from 10,000 to lakhs of rupees. Number two, you have to send the females of your house to TMC and these jihadi elements for them to rape. Number three, you have to join TMC.”
“You have to say sorry and give a Maafi nama. You have to write and pay fine for being in BJP. The only, and only sin these people have committed is not voting for TMC. Democracy is really under threat and danger in Bengal.” — Monika Arora, Advocate, Supreme Court of India
Ironically, CM Mamata Banerjee’s thumping win in the Assembly polls was termed as a victory for ‘Bengal ki beti’, while many other betiyas from her state paid a very heavy price for not supporting her party.
Diya Guha, age 21, from Birbhum, alleges that on May 2, local TMC leader Mamul Sheikh, and 10 to 12 other Muslim TMC goons stormed into her house where she lives with her father, a BJP worker, and started beating up everyone.
They took out a revolver, aiming it at her father, and raped her one by one, 7 men violated her, taking turns, while a helpless father watched. The Muslim men then wanted to kill both father and daughter, saying, “Ladki aur baap ko maar do nahi to humare liye zehar ho jayega.”
Diya says her father somehow managed to wrap her naked body with his pagdi and dragged her out of the house from the back. They managed to flee in someone’s vehicle and have since then not been able to go back home.
Pratima Das, from Haldipara village, PS PS Monteswar. Purba Bardhaman, is a prisoner in her own house, as she saus TMC gundas have cordoned off the whole area and the whole village is under siege. They are allegedly not allowing anyone to go out or come inside the area.
“I am a BJP supporter, and due to this fact alone TMC goons stormed into my house to punish me and beat me up with dandas and their bare fists.
They tore my saree, my blouse, and assaulted my breasts with a knife multiple times. They kept touching my private parts.” — Pratima Das, Purba Bardhaman
NCW INQUIRY AND VISIT TO BENGAL
The National Commission for Women (NCW) after taking suo-moto cognizance of the Twitter and other media reports and in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 10 of the National Commission for Women Act, 1990, constituted an Inquiry Committee under the chair of Smt. Rekha Sharma, Hon’ble Chairperson, NCW vide order No. 15/13/2020-21/NCW (SM) dated 5th May, 202 Ito inquire into the alleged incidents.
The Inquiry Committee report states, “The National Commission for Women had come across a number of Twitter/ Social Media Posts posting videos, photographs wherein allegedly TMC goons are beating BJP Women Workers in all districts of West Bengal which also includes the heinous crimes like rape and murder. The social media posts highlighted the incidents of Kendamari Village, Nandigram, East Medinipurand one girl was brutally raped and murdered at Village Hamna, P.S-Pingla, West Medinipur, West Bengal post Assembly election results.”
The Inquiry Committee visited the spot and submitted its report. Some of the observations of the NCW Committee formed under Chairperson Rekha Sharma are:
1) The police officials of the state government are not taking any conclusive or effective steps to provide security to women in the state.
2) All the state government authorities are neglecting the voice of women victims in the state.
3) There are no effective rehabilitation schemes for women in distress in the state.
4) The women of the state are unable to come forward to speak as they are afraid that state authorities/ police authorities will never provide protection. thus, there is no freedom of expression which is a total violation of democratic rights.
5) People are so scared that they cannot move out freely and many of them are taking shelter here and there. Thus, freedom of movement, right to live with dignity etc, which is their Fundamental Right have been totally deprived.
6) The police officials appear to be supporting the Goons instead of protecting people of the state
7) Shelter homes are not available in the state
8) Police officials are not registering the FIRS on the complaints given by the women.
The Committee also received information that many stranded women, who were victims of violence, had to leave their homes and were staying at shelter houses; and met these women. The inquiry committee visited Maheshwari Sadan at Chittaranjan Avenue in Kolkata. There were around 250-300 people stranded there, including more than 50 women.
After talking to all the female victims, the following atrocities/crimes were highlighted by the victimised women staying at the shelter home:
• Physical assault on the women by the TMC goons
• The houses of the women have been vandalized
• Bombings were carried out on their homes to kill all members
• The women have been receiving rape and threat calls every day.
• The women are forced/pressurized to live in a single room along with other women in this pandemic time
• The women in the shelter house are not getting any medical facilities
• The Women have left their elderly family members at home and no one is there to look after them. They were worried about their welfare.
• Mothers of young girls were worried about the safety of their daughters and want them to leave the state.
• The women have expressed that they were feeling very unsafe in this shelter home as they are not getting any protection from the police or state authorities.
• All women have stated that they do not have enough space to sleep at night and they are staying in dormitory system with two women sleeping together on the same bed in each dormitory without social distancing and endangering them to high risk of getting COVID 19 virus.
Recommendations by NCW:
(i)Police officials’ need to be sensitized for providing protection to all the citizens of the state irrespective of their political affiliation.
(ii) Accountability of police and other state authority to be fixed so as to ensure that every citizen gets justice.
(iii) Number of women police officials to be increased and regular training for handling women issues to be conducted.
(iv) The Fundamental Rights of the people of the state need to be ensured.
(v) Para-military forces have to be deployed along with police and the citizens do not have confidence on State Police authorities.
(vi) People should be given the right to exercise adult franchise without any fear.
(vii) Women staying in temporary shelter homes should be given security and their houses should be re-constructed so they can safely go home.
(viii) Police, as well as para military forces, should be deployed at sensitive areas.
(ix) Helpline for women who are homeless because of violence.
(x) Awareness of gender streaming need to be created by the State Government.
(xi) Free medical facilities for women affected by violence
(xii) State should make sure that women are given work/job to earn as they can become easy target for trafficking.
(xiii) Fear and shortage of livelihood make women and children especially young girls easy targets.
(xiv) State should make sure education of children must not suffer because of violence.
WOMAN PARADED NAKED IN ALIPURDUAR
The NCW has also taken cognizance of a news article wherein it was reported a woman was paraded naked and beaten up brutally in Alipurduar, West Bengal. The NCW chairperson had also written to Virendra, DGP, West Bengal to direct police to take immediate action for the arrest of all the accused. NCW has also directed SP, Alipurduar district, to appear virtually before NCW at 12.30 pm on June 16 to apprise them of the status update in the matter. It has also been reported that while only 3 accused are in police custody, 8 accused named in the FIR are still absconding. The letter mentioned: “The commission is unable to comprehend atrocities perpetrated to women in the state of West Bengal, that are reported on a daily basis. The commission condemns the pitiable state of law and order in the state. There is undisputedly laxity and dereliction of duties on the part of the police in not taking immediate and prompt action in the matter.”
NO STATE FOR WOMEN
Post the Assembly election results, there is an increasing number of rapes being reportedly committed by Muslims in communally sensitive areas in West Bengal. The victims are generally Hindu minor girls. In 0ne such spine-chilling incident, two miscreants– Mohammed Karim Sheikh And Tarzan Sheikh, were accused of raping a minor girl inside the ambulance. The incident allegedly took place in Farakka, in Murshidabad district. The minor girl is a resident of the Chaksudapur area of the Malda district. She went to visit her uncle’s house in Farakka. The 15-year-old girl, a secondary student, was raped repeatedly by the two, one of them the ambulance driver, and dumped in an unconscious state near a culvert. Police have arrested the two criminals, Mohammad Karim and Tarzan Sheikh who were accused of repeatedly gang-raping the minor girl in the ambulance. Mohammad Karim was driving the ambulance in which the heinous crime was committed.
All of this happened in West Bengal from the 2nd of May, 2021, the day Assembly results were declared and is still going on.
But not a single word of condemnation from a mohila Chief Minister who claims to have won because the women voted for her. Are these women not ‘Banglar Meye’ just because they don’t follow your ideology? Are the women of Nandigram, Hingalganj, Minakha, East Burdwan not women or girls of Bangla? The number of rapes & molestations that followed the post poll results prove that for Mamata Banerjee it is only her vindictive politics that matter – Humanity has no place in West Bengal right now. — Rakhi Mitra, BJP State secretary Mahila Morcha
NO RIGHTS FOR THE WRONGED
On conditions of anonymity, a Bengal-based Human Rights activist and social worker, who has travelled deep into several districts of Bengal, said he witnessed extreme levels of atrocities committed by TMC workers/supporters on political opponents. He says districts such as Purba & Paschim Midnapore, South & North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Birbhum, Malda, North Dinajpur are the worst affected. Around 5000 people left the state to save their lives and honour.
Pinky, Diya, Pratima, and countless more—all these women voices are waiting for justice. They were punished for no crime, for just supporting the Opposition party in Didi’s Bengal. Is this the victory of democracy as Mamata and her supporters claim it to be or the dance of fascism that goes on unabated and unreported in Bengal, the so-called bastion of culture?
(This article was originally produced on June 21, 2021, reproduced again on the 1 year of West Bengal Post Poll Violence)