Political violence in Bengal is making headlines again. The BJP unit chief, Kailash Vijayvargiya has shared another story of violence erupting in Cooch Behar over his Twitter page. The Bengal violence news is all over media. The state Chief Minister is still in a state of denial.
Allegedly, a violent mob led by a TMC Minister in Mathabhanga has damaged the house of BJP District Secretary, Manoj Ghosh. TMC has alleged that a TMC functionary was murdered a day before in that area. Taking violence to streets over a murder cannot be justified, more so when the violence is led by the party in power. If the TMC itself does not believe in the state machinery for law and order and for justice, what can be expected from the common man? Who will he go to for justice?
Sadly, in the recent months, such incidents are surfacing one after the other. Dead bodies hanging from a tree is not just a painted scene from a movie in Bengal, it is a dark reality. A BJP Senior leader, Manish Shukla was shot dead at a tea stall in Titagarh. Be it Rabindranath Mondal or Kinkar Manjhi or Milan Haldar or Bachchu Bera, the mound of dead bodies is increasing and the blood bath is still continuing. So long is the list of political murders of BJP alone that a booklet had to be created carrying the names of the victims. In July, BJP published a booklet carrying names of some 107 party functionaries who lost their lives in political rivalry. And it is not just BJP whose workers are at the receiving end of violence. The actual number of political deaths is still a sealed up secret. Some political murders are disguised as suicides and some as petty personal feuds. The violence continues.
The history of political violence in West Bengal is not new. The draconian face of the artistic and the intellectual state of India has not been hidden from public view. The state’s reputation as being highly politically conscious has been made over blood. The confrontation in the state is not due to petty communal or caste issues, it is almost always strictly political. Murderous attacks on political opponents are not a thing of today. The seeds of violence were during the Naxalbari movement itself. When Mao proclaimed that political power flows through the barrel of the gun, the habit of ingrained in the mindset of the Naxalites. As violence leads to more violence, equally brutal is the state response to any violent eruption.
If we look at the list of political riots in west Bengal, Marichjhanpi massacre, Nandigram violence, or the Ek Paisa Andolan are a few names that still send shivers down the spine. Bombs are lobed, bricks are hurled, tram tracks are uprooted, public property is vandalised, and streets become a war-zone over an issue as trifle as a one paisa hike in tram fare. Violence begets violence. Equally repressive and brutal is the state response to public protests in Bengal. The Baranagar, Barasat massacre where around young men were killed by the police is an incident etched in history.
The recent wave of violence in west Bengal today dates back to the 1970s. Two sensational murders of Forward Bloc leader Hemant Basu and then Ajit Kumar Biswas took everyone by storm. The extent of brutality is unparalleled in political history. In the 1970s, it was the left suffering brutalities by Congress. When the left came to power, it reciprocated with equally gruesome brutalities. The political actors kept on changing, but the bloodshed remained the same. Every power transition is marked by an even higher level of violence in west-Bengal.
In the upcoming elections of 2021, people are looking for a change in the state of violence. People of Bengal need the restoration of democracy and peace. Whichever party comes to power, we hope that violence is left behind for good.
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