(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 10, 2010
An Exercise in Malice and Slander
D BANDYOPADHYAY, a former secretary of revenue and erstwhile secretary of rural development in the government of India, fills an entire article with slander in a recent piece titled, "Citizens Beware! Killer Convicts at Large!" in the Mainstream magazine dated December 4-10, 2009. What is surprising is that there is total lack of editorial due diligence in publishing this malicious piece written by the former bureaucrat, whose motive is clear - demonising serving ministers and senior leaders of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) - CPI(M) in West Bengal. The context that provides the author to make such a willful character assassination and deliberate falsification of facts is the Sainbari incident in March 1970, where two brothers - sympathisers of the Congress party were killed.
These murders were made the pretext to falsely implicate the entire leadership of the CPI(M) in Burdwan district. It must be noted that this was done when West Bengal was under President's rule and the Congress party was going all out to target the CPI(M) and its cadres.
The premise of Bandyopadhyay's article is that 17 of the miscreants who were responsible for the murder of the Sain brothers - the author does not care to mention their names - Pronob and Moloy Sain - were named as "accused" and eight of them, were "convicted" and life imprisonment was imposed upon them by the District and Sessions Judge of Burdwan in 1971. Of the eight thus convicted- he names Benoy Konar (who is current Central Committee member of the CPI[M]), Politburo Member and West Bengal industries minister Nirupam Sen, Manik Roy (mentioned as "absconding"), Amal Haldar and Paltoo Bandyopadhyay.
Bandyopadhyay also asserts that the "convicts went on appeal before the Calcutta High Court twice. On both occasions their appeal was rejected." He then goes on to say that the convicts did not "curiously" prefer to appeal before the Supreme Court and instead "waited for an opportunity to get them out of the prison by foul means". Later, when the CPI(M) came to power, "all the convicts of the Sai murder case were released on "parole"". Bandyopadhyay's premise is that the "convicts" were released on "parole" by political means, after getting to "power". He then makes a further assertion that the "records of the case" were "pilfered" from the "archives of the Calcutta High Court through their [the CPI(M)'s] committed members of the "Coordination Committee" among the employees of the High Court".
Thus framing his case for the article's headline that "killer convicts are at large", Bandyopadhyay then goes on to construct an elaborate pack of cards bringing the Singur and Nandigram "incidents" into the picture as he makes scurrilous after scandalous claim about the persons in question.
PREMISE IS FALSE
A cursory look at the facts at hand would be enough to dismiss Bandyopadhyay's entire article as a pack of lies, wrapped in a monument of malice intended to deliberately attack whom he perceives as his political enemy (Bandyopadhyay's current political inclinations are well known - he is an advisor to the maverick and obstructionist Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee).
Firstly, Bandyopadhyay gets it wrong about the procedural cases since the incident. As the case order of the "State v Ajit Mukherjee and 83 others" also known as the "Sainbari case" in the court of the 3rd Additional Sessions Judge (Shri R K Kar), Alipore points out clearly –
"On 17.3.70 at 12:30 PM, one Dilip Kumar Bhattacharya lodged an FIR at Burdwan Police Station...".
"On the basis of the said FIR the Burdwan Police Station started P.S Case no 50 dt. 17.3.70 and took up investigation of the case. After completion of the investigation the police submitted a chargesheet against 111 persons on 8.2.71 under various sections of the Penal code including sections 148, 149/302 and 149/436 I.P.C. before the S.D.J.M Burdwan. "..
"the accd. persons made a prayer before the Sessions Judge, Burdwan for the transfer of the case outside the Burdwan town".
"The ld. Sessions judge rejected the prayer of the accd. persons and so they moved the Hon'ble High Court. On 21.2.71 the Hon'ble High Court transferred the case to Alipore and the S.D.J.M Alipore commited the case to the court of Sessions on 13.6.74."
"Charges were framed against the accd. persons on 13.8.77 and on 20.9.77, the ld. Public Prosecutor filed an application u/s 321 Cr.P.C seeking the court's consent for withdrawal from the prosecution of the accd. persons".
The order in the "State vs Ajit Mukherjee and 83 others case" - passed by the Third Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Alipore dated 30 September 1977 and another dated 6 May 1978 - eventually acquitted the 83 accused persons from the charges framed against them. But we are going ahead of the story. As the case records points out, the Bandyopadhyay claim that "eight" of the "17 accused" were convicted and "life imprisonment" was imposed upon them is a fairy tale. Whatever follows - that the "convicts" went on appeal against their "sentence" to the High Court and that eventually they were released on "parole" are thus completely false and flows from the rather flowing imagination of the said author. It also appears very clearly that the numbers 8 and 17 are discretely chosen to make a scurrilous point. Amal Haldar's name for example is not part of the 83 accused in the "State vs Ajit Mukherjee..." case.
How could someone who has not been convicted appeal for "parole"? And from where did Bandyopadhyay make his claim that eight persons were convicted and sentenced to "life imprisonment"? And why would anyone who has not been "convicted" appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn a judgement of "conviction" if that never happened? These are questions that deserve legitimate answers from the obviously deranged former bureaucrat.
That Bandyopadhyay's later assertions on the CPI(M) using its "power" to grant "parole" to the "convicted" and that the records of the case archive were destroyed are nonsense is proved from the "State vs Ajit Mukherjee..." case records. Curiously, Bandyopadhyay also makes other assertions that the Registrar General, Calcutta High Court had "shockingly" reported to the Supreme Court that the High Court had no paper relating to the Sainbari case, when no appeal to the non-existing conviction was ever filed in the High Court! The author continues in his nonsensical vein claiming that the "CPI(M) government had granted unconditional and unlimited parole" and hopes that the "Supreme Court gave an order revoking the parole of the convicts". It is mentioned in the article that one Joydeep Mukherjee has filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court to find out how the "convicts" have been "enjoying unrestricted and unconditional parole for the last 32 years". As established before, these are all false premises and one wonders how the Supreme Court could admit the petition which is certainly a false affidavit - a sure case of contempt of Court.
So what essentially is the truth about the trials that followed the Sainbari murder incidents? We should again take recourse to the same "State vs Ajit Mukherjee.." case order. Here is the timeline as events happened.
FACTS OF THE
CASE AND ORDER
Following the transfer of the case to the Sessions court on 13.6.74, "Charges with Five Heads" were filed against 83 people, seven of whom are mentioned by Bandyopadhyay. The charges were that the 83 mentioned in the chargesheet were part of "about 1500" people engaging in "unlawful assembly" at Protapswar Sibtala, Burdwan and accused of participating in the murder of Malay Sain, his brother Pranab Sen and family tutor Jiten Roy, in rioting and looting and setting the house on fire etc.
The case order in "State vs Ajit Mukherjee.." dismissed the charges. It heard out a statement by the Public Prosecutor who had filed an application u/s 321 Cr.P.C for withdrawal from the prosecution of the accused persons with the consent of the court, on following grounds -
·The Public Prosecutor stated that he is convinced that there was an occurence on the relevant date and relevant time in the house of the Sains, but the accused persons did not participate in that occurence. That most of the accused belonged to one political party and most of the witnesses belonged to a rival political party, and that the accused persons had been falsely implicated in the case. That the investigation had not been fair and impartial and that the rival political party directed the course of the investigation and the evidence collected by the investigation agency was grossly tainted.
·That, as two major political parties were involved in the case, if instant prosecution was carried to its logical end, it is almost certain that feelings or acrimony and hatred would be engineered between the local workers of the said two political parties, and that the current (then) situation in Burdwan town is quite peaceful and the trial is bound to disturb the peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing in the town.
·That, the then State government (of the Left Front) had effected a policy of "Forgive and Forget" which was directed at putting an end to all political and ideological bitterness of the past.
The judge in his order, examined the grounds of withdrawal by looking at similar judicial precedents and on the basis of principles laid down by the Supreme Court in considering such grounds.
Vis-a-vis the first ground, the judge observed that there was a case of recantation of testimony by the person who filed the FIR; that he was unsure of the numbers mentioned in the chargesheet and that following the incident, leaders of the rival political party had colluded with the investigating officer in getting statements recorded from various witnesses. There were several discrepancies with the statements given by the witnesses, in the manner the FIR was filed and in the way the investigation was done. These facts and circumstances supported the Public Prosecutor's submission that the investigation had not been impartial and that he would not be able to lead cogent and convincing evidence to warrant a conviction of the accused was not without basis.
Plus the general political atmosphere in Burdwan Town at that time, featuring political murders and attacks on rival political parties, the general inaction of the police during the incident - either to halt the miscreants' attack on the Sain house as a retaliation to an alleged bomb attack on them or to apprehend them after the incident. The judge also referred to other precedents on incidents arising out of rivalry between different associations and dismissal of charges owing to the need to continue to maintain harmony post such incidents. In the light of prevalence of relative calm and peace eight years since the Sainbari incident, the judge mentions that the Public Prosecutor's submission of withdrawal on such grounds deserved consideration.
However on the third ground of the Left Front government's policy of "forgive and forget", the judge clearly mentions that "the policy of Government is no consideration for giving consent for withdrawal" citing other precedents.
In sum, the judge considered the other two grounds enough to not find sufficient reason to withhold consent for withdrawal. Thus, the accused were acquitted of the offences under Cr.PC section 321(b). All these facts and details are available in the court order.
Coming back to Bandyopadhyay's article, it is clear that the article was written to throw mud on CPI(M) functionaries by building a monument of falsehood about "conviction", "release on parole" and "destruction of records". In doing so and by using expressions such as "black mamba", "killer convicts", "nasty killer" to describe a serving and elected minister and other public functionaries, the author only further sullies his already discredited image. What is striking is the absolute lack of editorial due diligence as well on this article. Any editor worth her/his salt would have taken pains to check the veracity of the claims as well as been tempted to use editorial standards to vet some of the abominable language used. But alas, so consumed is the editor in buying the spurious monument of lies, there is none of that necessary editorial work.
That this deranged writer is a trusted advisor of the leader of the chief party in the opposition in the state is a testament to the state of affairs that exists in the anti-Left Front alliance in West Bengal. Considering the track record of the leader in question - in the sheer mindlessness, in the nonsensical obstructionism, in the poverty of logic and reason in the Trinamul's politics, it is not a surprise that she keeps such abominable company to advise her.