For the last 4 years
or more, the CPM-led Government of West Bengal has been pursuing a policy of
ruthless state repression against their political opponents like the CPI(Maoist),
the Kamtapuris and others. A large number of people have been arrested and
tortured. The total number of people arrested for their alleged Maoist
connection by the CPM-led government so far is more than 1100 and the number of
those arrested for their Kamtapuri connection is nearly 1400. Most of those
arrested are poor villagers who find it difficult to make both ends meet, be
they settled in south Bengal or in the north.
The government has
particularly targeted the erstwhile CPI(M-L) People’s War and the Maoist
Communist Centre of India for marginalisation and elimination from the political
map of West Bengal, as has been made amply clear by Buddhadev Bhattacharya, the
chief-cum-home minister in his budget speeches of 2001, 2003 and 2005 as also in
speeches made from time to time on various occasions. Buddhadev Bhattacharya,
the self-declared champion of human rights, is in reality, the most cunning
violator of it. His government has given the widest possible powers to the
police and para-military forces to arrest, intimidate and implicate anybody on
fake charges if they are in any way associated with or have belief in Maoism or
Kamtapuri ideology. In this way, he has encouraged the policy of impunity for
oppressive police personnel and arrogantly brushed aside all criticism of his
government’s repressive policy. The recent arrests, among others, of Sushil Roy,
who happens to be one of the leading members of the CPI(Maoist), and who, is now
in his mid sixties and in poor health, having lived a fearless, sacrificial life
dedicated to the cause of fundamental social transformation, shows clearly that
freedom of political activity and freedom to have and express one’s political
opinion is being trampled underfoot by this fascist government.
We would like to give
our readers an idea of the extent of state repression that is being perpetrated
in north Bengal by the CPM-led government, particularly of the Rajbanshi
Kamtapuri people. A team of the Bandi Mukti Committee (BMC), i.e. the Committee
for the Release of Political Prisoners, went to North Bengal to investigate into
allegations of state repression on the Kamtapuri people in areas such as
Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar in late April this year. The BMC issued a
Press Release of its findings on 3-5-2005. We have got a copy of it and
reproducing it to let our readers know how, in the name of ‘Marxism’ and
‘democracy’ the Buddhadev-led government, has already imposed a fascist type of
repressive rule in West Bengal. The following is the essence of that report:
The repression on the
Rajbanshi people is of such an acute nature that they are mortally afraid to
even let themselves be known as of the Kamtapuri nationality. This
fear-psychosis is very much evident in areas such as Moynaguri, Chikliguri,
Kamakshaguri and Kumargram. Once, in late December 2000, when the West Bengal
government started ‘Operation Kamtapuri’, about 1000 people were picked
up, brutally tortured and thrown into prison and the total number of arrests
rose to nearly 1400. The terror has become so widespread that any person having
surnames such as ‘Roy’ or ‘Barman’ were branded as ‘terrorists’ or a member of
the KLO (Kamtapuri Liberation Organisation). There was a time when no resident
of Kumargram was allowed lodging in any hotel in Siliguri due to police
The situation is such
that even people connected with the KPP (Kamtapuri People’s Party), which is a
parliamentary party, are being driven from pillar to post to evade repression
and harassment by the police and the ruling CPM party.
There are at least 12
cases of ‘fake encounters’ leading to deaths, according to Kamtapuri sources.
Two of the victims were Haripada Roy (David) and Rohini Barman. The
investigation team went to the hamlet of Haripada Roy at village Uttar
Bairatiguri, Dhupguri on 22 April and met his family members and talked to them.
The body of Haripada was found at Mathabhanga, Beltali. The bullets that caused
his death were shot from behind and pierced his body which shows that bullets
were fired from close range. The other victim, Rohini Barman has his village
hamlet in Dakshin Parokata, P.O. Chikliguri. He died possibly in the month of
September 2002 at a place called Hatipota, Moinabari. The BMC team met Rohini’s
mother Sarathi Barman and his wife Rebati Barman. Rebati was all tears when she
related the incident. A total of 14/15 bullets pierced through his chest and the
right side of his face. He was shot from the front.
To suppress political
opponents and to terrorise the people the CPM-led govt. has resorted to all
sorts of brutal methods which are only comparable to the black days of the
S.S.Ray regime of 1970. Even political prisoners are being murdered in cold
blood in the prisons. There are three such deaths — Kalidas Roy and Prajit Das
in Jalpaiguri Jail and Yasin Kabir (arrested for his alleged connection with
SIMI activists) in Malda Jail. The team went to the place of Prajit Das (Natal)
at village Changmari, Alipurduar. He was arrested on 20 March 2004 and died on 8
March 2005 in Alipurduar Jail at 11 PM. There were marks of injury on his body.
No human rights
organization is being allowed to meet the political prisoners. When the BMC
applied for permission to see political prisoners in Siliguri and Jalpaiguri
jails, they were told that prior permission from the IG (Prison) was necessary.
And the reality is that permission is never given. It appears that the
government has much to hide from the public.
The physical tortures
perpetrated by the jail authorities on the political prisoners remind one of the
brutal state repression of the Siddhartha Ray regime of the 1970s. Very
recently, Animesh Chakrabarty and Pradip Chatterjee have been tortured brutally
on the direction of the Superintendent of Siliguri Sub-jail. The whole
administration has become so de-humanised that they did not at all care to make
any arrangement for Bijoy Roy to go home on parole to see the dead body of his
father who died on 22-04-05.
Although all these
prisoners, with alleged Maoist or Kamtapuri connections, have been charged with
the so common ‘offence’ of waging war against the state, none was given the
status of political prisoner. This is not only a clear departure from the
existing 1992 Act, passed by the government of West Bengal, but also a clear and
deliberate violation of it.
As in South Bengal,
so also in North Bengal, there are innumerable cases of illegal detention,
re-arrest, and ‘badli arrests’ (substitute arrests). Never, at the time of
arrest, has the WB police force cared to adhere to the Supreme Court’s 11-point
guidelines (vide Justice D.K.Basu versus Government of West Bengal 1996 case).
In the absence of Haripada Roy (later killed in a fake encounter by the police
and para-military forces) of Uttar Bairatiguri, Dhupguri, his father, Ganapati
Roy was forcibly taken to the police station, kept there for 3-4 days without
framing any charges and without producing him in the court. It is a case of
illegal detention. In the absence of Biswanath Roy of Uttar Madhabdanga,
Mainaguri, his father Upeshwar Roy, and mother and uncle were illegally detained
in the police station for 3 days and all the members of his family were
subjected to humiliation and physical and mental torture. In the absence of
Rohini Barman( later killed in a fake encounter by the police) of Dakshin
Parokata, Chikliguri, his nephew Dipen Roy was arrested. It was a case of ‘badli
arrest’. The sons of the elder brother of Ramani Barman, the elder brother of
Rohini, came all the way from Assam to meet them after hearing the news of their
uncle’s death. They were picked up from the road and detained illegally. In the
absence of Bijoy Barman of Pashchim Nararthali, Kamakshyaguri, two of his
brothers, Bimal and Shbhas were arrested. These are cases of ‘badli arrests’.
Prajit Das (later killed in Jalpaiguri jail) of village Changmari, Kumargram was
at one time re-arrested after being released on bail in one case.
All these instances
clearly make a mockery of Buddhadev Bhattacharya’s tall claim that rule of law
prevails in West Bengal. It is not the rule of law but the rule of the jungle
that prevails in this so-called oasis of democracy called West Bengal. How long
will the ruling classes and their political representatives be allowed to
continue to do so is a question to be decided by the people?