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Stop the Cycle of Revenge and Violence in West Bengal

March 4, 2012

This public statement is for immediate release. Please see the names of the signatories at the end. 

The news of continuous violence on a daily basis coming from West Bengal is deeply disturbing. Journalists have been attacked by the members of the ruling party, school teachers are being asked to prove their loyalty to the new ruling dispensation failing which they are being barred from doing their duty and are made target of systematic physical violence.

People suspected of affiliation with the CPM  are facing extortion threats and cases have been reported where they have been denied access to the means of their livelihood. Legitimate oppositional politics is not tolerated. Not only are ordinary members of the CPM  being attacked, even senior leaders are not spared . Recently an ex-MLA of the CPM along with another leader was killed in a mob-violence led by the members of the ruling  Trinamul Congress. Processions are not allowed. There have been incidents of intimidation by the ruling party to the supporters of the recent bandh call given by different trade unions.

The Chief  Minister has been on record threatening bandh supporters that they would be ‘given a lesson to remember’.  This was followed by attacks on the strikers  by members of the ruling party.  Generally in all these cases the role of the police is either of a mute spectator or of connivance.

Most shockingly, the response of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to the recently reported incidents of rape, where she alleged that ‘it was all made up and stage-managed’ is creating a situation in which violence against women would either not be reported or police would simply refuse to register them, let alone act to apprehend the perpetrators.

It is matter of deep distress that the political leadership of the state is either denying the gravity of violent incidents in West Bengal or legitimizing most of it by claiming that it is the result of popular anger. Ironically such arguments were used  by the earlier ruling party to justify  the  Singur , Nandigram and Lalgadh violence. We  see  members of the  ruling party behaving  like  vigilantes. The dividing line between the party and government has been dangerously blurred .

It is sad that the mandate given to the Trinamul Congress arising out of the desire of the people  of Bengal to come out of a situation where one political party controlled all aspects of life is  now being misused to establish an authoritarian regime . It is  a matter of concern that politics in Bengal is being conducted in a language  of revenge and  threats. It is high time a process in Bengal was initiated to allow normal democratic political activity.

We urge the governor of the state and leaders of all political parties  to take lead and initiate  this process. We also urge the people of Bengal to come forward to oppose the culture of violence and petty sectarianism dominating the state’s political scenario and help establish new norms of decency and democratic behaviour in public life.

Aditya Nigam, CSDS, Delhi

A Marx, Chennai

Anand Patwardhan, Mumbai

Apoorvanand, Delhi University

Arshad Ajmal , Sahulat, Delhi and Patna

Dilip Simeon, Delhi

Devika Jayakumari, CDS, Thiruavanathapuram

Dwaipayan Bhattacharya, CSSC, Kolkata

Dwijendra Kalia, Delhi University

Gautam Bhan,Delhi

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL, Jaipur

Kumar Rana, Pratichi, Kolkata

Madhumita Dutta, Chennai

Mukul Priyadarshini, Delhi University

Mukul Sharma, Delhi

Musab Iqbal, Newzfirst, Bangalore

Nasiruddin Haider Khan, Hindustan, Delhi

Nivedita Menon, JNU, Delhi

Pritam Mukherjee, Kolkata

Pushkar, PUCL, Delhi

Satya Sivaraman, Delhi

Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Delhi

Shivam Vij, Delhi

Shudhhabrata Sengupta, Delhi

Subhash Gatade, Sandhan, Delhi

Sukla Sen, Mumbai

Sumit Sarkar, Delhi

Sunalini Kumar, Delhi University

Tanika Sarkar, Delhi

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Yogesh permalink
    March 4, 2012 7:33 PM

    The public statement “Stop the cycle…” is indeed timely. The politics of violence and revenge is an absolute negation of the mandate given to Mamta Banerjee. The behaviour of her party is appalling.

  2. Ram Sharma permalink
    March 5, 2012 5:11 AM

    I would whole heartedly support this public statement. But very few signatories are from Bengal and most have either Communist leaning or are CPM sympathizers. That raises the question of credibility. However, the politics of violence must be denounced, whether it is by TMC or CPM.

  3. March 5, 2012 7:53 AM

    Dear Ram Sharma,

    Little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Please look up this blog archives, just search Bengal, and see how many of the above signatories were critical of the CPM since Nandigram, and how many such statements were put out against the CPM. You do not know anything about the politics of the people who have signed the statement, but is is easy for you label them CPM sympathisers because in your rather limited worldview, left=CPM. Will you please allow me to return the compliment and label you BJP sympathiser and then proceed with ad hominem remarks about your comments? If on the other hand there hadn’t been a statement like this there would soon be the old CPM trolls coming here and accusing us of partisan silence. Really, how much time and effort does one have to invest to earn the “credibility” that you think is lacking here? Because there are all kinds of people accusing us of all kinds of things all the time.

    Best,
    Shivam

    • Ram Sharma permalink
      March 6, 2012 12:13 AM

      You are right, as I sure did not dig out the archives of Kafila and read. I consider myself a leftist, committed to only ideals and objectives, and not to one of the political varieties which use the label. My comment was not meant to suggest partisanship, but the need of more signatories from Bengal, preferably apolitical, to which the statement applied. I felt that would strengthen the appeal of the statement. Sorry, if I was wrong.

  4. Pradiptamohan Basu permalink
    March 5, 2012 11:42 AM

    Politics of revenge is futile as violence gives rise to counter-violence. And the people suffer (excluding the senior politicians, of course). Also, seeing some sinister plot behind every move of the opposition or any unfortunate event shows lack of political maturity. People wanted a change, but not “goondagiri”! Where is the change then?

  5. Pankaj Bhan permalink
    March 5, 2012 1:11 PM

    The statement very subtly equates Left Front/ CPM with TMC. Tomorrow they might equate Left Front with Congress or , why, even BJP. If the signatories to the statement say that they are just ‘impartial’ political observers (whatever that means) and nothing else, then I don’t have a serious quarrel with them. I remember a statement made by one such luminaries in the recent past describing Buddhadeb Bhattacharya as ‘Hitler’ and naming him worse than Narendra Modi. It is the most astounding and, excuse me when I say, the most ridiculous statement that I have ever heard from a socalled ‘Left’ sympathiser. To come back to the statement, the signatories to the statement may be anything but they are not Marxists-Leninisits. At best they are ‘freelance Marxists’ who who say whatever they like at any given time and get away with it. In objective terms, they are just harming the organised Left in the country as it is only the organised Left, with all their limitations, which can make any advance in the country. Even a novice in Marxism-Leninism will understand Mamta’s politics, her role, but these people have been enamoured of her kind of politics and helped her in demolishing the Left in West Bengal. Her role is getting clearer day by day and should be clear to these ‘freelance’ signatories by this time, her response to the general strike being only an example. Pankaj Bhan.

    • satya permalink
      March 6, 2012 9:58 AM

      Not very difficult to equate the Left Front/CPM with any of the other political formations in India given its atrocious record in West Bengal. For a party that calls itself ‘left’ the CPM’s behaviour in particular was even worse than most bourgeois parties, pursuing as it did an aggressive neo-liberal economic agenda combined with storm trooper violence under Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. Mamata Banerjee is clearly a child of Left Front misrule in Bengal, which was so bad that in desperation the electorate chose what they thought was the smaller of the two monsters they had before them.

      Criticising the CPM is not however the same as supporting the Trinamul and there is no reason why we shouldn’t insist that the people of Bengal and the rest of the country for that matter deserve better than what both these parties have to offer. The land of Vidyasagar, Tagore, Subash Bose and countless great men and women should not allow itself to be trampled upon by the moral pygmies running amok currently.

      The culture of sectarian political violence was not invented by the CPM in Bengal but certainly perfected during its three decade long rule with new innovations to boot that have left every institution in the state completely emasculated of democratic norms or content. Most of Mamata’s goons on the rampage around the state were with the CPM not very long ago. What has to change in Bengal is the assumption that such low standards of political activity are necessary to come to power or that ‘there is no other alternative’.

      Instead of crowing over Mamata’s follies what CPM supporters and indeed its leaders should reflect on the reasons why they fell into such disgrace in Bengal. Could it be because blinded by their grandiose ideas of how luminous they are they have ceased to reflect altogether?

    • Aditya Nigam permalink*
      March 6, 2012 2:10 PM

      …the signatories to the statement may be anything but they are not Marxists-Leninisits.

      Thanks for the compliment, Pankaj. And just to add to your sense of fulfilment, unlike Sunalini, I did feel the euphoria that the people of West Bengal too undoubtedly did at the moment of the LF’s defeat! But to say that certainly does not mean that one cannot keep one’s critical faculties alive – something most ‘Marxists-Leninists’ (is that right?) seem to lose at the very moment of their baptism:(

      • upal Chakraborty permalink
        March 7, 2012 12:29 AM

        I admire the intellectual honesty of the signatories – Marxist-Leninists or not – for taken up their pens against an authoritarian regime.
        Haing said that, it is time to critically analyze the present regime vis-a-vis the earlier one to arrive at an impartial and objective conclusion on whether the change was for the better or the worse.
        Is Stalinism as bad as Fascism ? The people of Soviet Union carryimng potraits of Stalin braving temperatures of -20 degrees do not think so. And ask those of the elder generation who actually lived under Stalin.
        This is not to condone the evils of Stalinism but just to remind aditya and his comrades that is a socio-polotical equivalent of Einstein'”Theory Of Relativity” .

  6. March 5, 2012 3:40 PM

    Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress have to come out of the activist mode (when you can blame anyone and anything) and get into the governance mode which requires proactivity , not reactivity. Sadly that has not happened. The first incident of barging into a police station to let off her arrested workers showed the immaturity of the new W Bengal CM. The incidents following have proved no different, including the grandstanding against the Union Government. Bengali people are intelligent and Mamata will quickly be shown the door !

  7. March 6, 2012 9:21 AM

    Look Pankaj I’m not any ‘people’. I will criticise any abuse of power. If I watched Nandigram with horror, I certainly didn’t feel any euphoria when Ms. Banerjee came to power. I only felt foreboding. That has been confirmed. I suppose that makes me an armchair intellectual in your view. In any case, your sweeping generalisations do you no credit.

  8. March 18, 2012 1:30 AM

    the public statement correctly shows the lack of political alternative in the state……she can not take any criticism of her government and dubs the park street rape case as something which is “shajano ghotona” (staged/ doctored)…….questioning the dignity of the woman victim……….her atrocious reply of closing all night clubs of the state further shows the very limited and claustrophobic idea of rape……….and with night life being unsafe for woman….does she guarantee safety to all women of the state during day time?…how will she answer if a woman is raped in her own house?…….she will reiterate her “shajano ghotona” stand………but then will she debar women from their homes as well?…..this shows that she is more interested in justifying the rapists…….moreover all she knows is to blame left rule for everything…… the left rule did come under severe criticism in terms of its understanding of development………..but she can not take criticism and learn from it…….but is ready to question the credibility of her own party worker trivedi for his role in hiking the fares…..and act as if a person like her who is so domineering had no inkling before……shajano ghotona again?..all this shows that she was never interested in poriborton……..but rather her role in the pre election period was a shajano ghotona instead only for electoral win………so sad to see the future of west bengal enmeshed in politics of revenge, counter revenge and lack of political alternative…………….

    • Pradiptamohan Basu permalink
      March 18, 2012 9:27 AM

      Agree with “S” to a great extent. Where is the great “poribawrton”? The arrogance of the now departed leftists has been replaced by the “arrogance” of the so-called grass-root [huh!] “revolutionaries”. By the way, though digressing a bit, what has happened to those “blitz” visits to the hospitals? Any improvements?

    • Soham Mookherjee permalink
      March 18, 2012 2:39 PM

      Well, she has long since delivered a sucker punch to all those people who ever believed in her naive campaign for Change and that the State could ever redeem itself…Today, we have become the laughing stock of the Nation, clearly spoilt for choice between Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Mamata Banerjee…its become a simple choice for the people really…if you see your life going anywhere at all bail out…or else rot in a State without jobs, without hope and without a sustaining economy…the situation reminds me of a childhood fable of a frog living in a well and oblivious of the existence of the world…believing the well to be everything of consequence…well, the masses of frogs in the State can feel very happy today knowing well that they and only they are solely responsible for the fact that the State has done nothing for the past 35 years…and looks set on the path of doing nothing else for the next 35 years at least…you can be very proud!!!!

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