People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 36

September 04, 2011




Attacks in Bengal:

Wake-Up Call for Indian People



IN the midst of the country’s and parliament’s pre-occupation with Anna Hazare’s fast and the Lokpal Bill, the serious attack on democracy and civil liberties in West Bengal is not receiving the required and necessary attention.  This is not surprising given the congenital anti-Left attitude of the corporate media.  Recollect that a few months ago, people in numbers that were exponentially larger than those who collected at Ramlila Maidan, marched to the parliament at the call of the central trade unions.  These equally patriotic Indians were protesting against both price rise and corruption.  The only reference in the mainstream media to this huge mobilisation was the traffic dislocation that this caused in the capital! The electronic media decides its content on the basis of TRP ratings and not on the worthiness of the news. Showing the ‘wretched of the earth’ protesting price rise and corruption may not influence TRP ratings positively. Such is their logic!


It is this very mindset that reflected in the virtual black out of the news, by the mainstream media, of a dharna staged by more than 1500 sitting and former elected representatives from Bengal on August 25, 2011.  A 17-member delegation met the prime minister on behalf of this dharna and presented a detailed memorandum listing the serious violent attacks against the Left Front cadres, offices and homes in West Bengal. 


A summary of this report reveals that 30 Left Front leaders and workers [CPI(M) : 28, RSP : 2] have been killed and seven more were abetted to commit suicide during this period; 684 women were assaulted physically, 508 molested and 23 raped; 3785 persons had to be hospitalised for the treatment of injuries suffered by them and many more were forced not to lodge complaint and seek hospital treatment. There had been 2,064 cases of arson and looting of houses and 14,081 persons were evicted from their place of living. Around 40,000 in total had to leave their home under threat. To buy peace and stay in their home, people have been forced to pay money to the local AITC leaders and workers. According to a conservative estimate, total extortion amount thus paid might exceed Rs 277.7 million. 758 Party, trade union and other mass organisation offices were either attacked, ransacked, burnt, forced to close or captured. 77 student union offices have been captured. Their office-bearers have been driven out, some of them forced to resign and even others denied to appear for their exams. There has been a widespread attack on the rights of the peasantry where by 3,418 ryots were denied the right to cultivate their own lands amounting to 9222.73 acres. Besides 26,838 patta holders and sharecroppers have been forcibly evicted from 9222.02 acres of patta and barga lands.


Despite such serious and unacceptable attacks on democratic rights and civil liberties, not a whimper was heard from any section of the so-called civil society.  These very luminaries were in the forefront, in collaboration with the Maoists, in highlighting the blatantly fabricated attacks against the Left Front and the state government on the issues of Singur and Nandigram.  Now, given the seriousness of these attacks in Bengal, they choose to remain silent.  Need anything more be said about their ideological predilections?


This, however, is not surprising.  It brings back memories of the decade of 1970s.  For full six years from 1972, a semi-fascist terror was unleashed against the CPI(M) in West Bengal. This was aimed at seeking to decimate the Communist-led popular movement in the state. Over 1,400 comrades were martyred and 22,000 Party families had to be relocated during the successful resistance defeating this semi-fascist terror.  Only when such attacks on democratic rights was generalised for the whole country with the imposition of internal Emergency in 1975 did some other sections wake up to the dangers of authoritarianism. The people finally triumphed in defeating the serious assault on India’s democracy in 1977.  Likewise, contrary to the hopes and machinations of the ruling classes, the people of West Bengal had not only reposed faith in the CPI(M)-led Left Front in the 1977 elections but continued to repose, in an unprecedented manner not found elsewhere in the country, such faith in seven consecutive elections.


Such a bitter experience and the imposition of misery and agony on the people through attacks on their democratic rights and civil liberties cannot be allowed to repeat.  During the past four decades, the consolidation of the Indian Republic has moved forward and the Indian people will not tolerate such attacks and refuse to take them lying down. 


These attacks in Bengal and resistance against them must be seen as a wake-up call for the Indian people as a whole to be vigilant and rise together to ensure that such anti-democratic authoritarian trends are defeated.

(August 31, 2011)