People's Democracy

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


No. 40

October 06, 2013




Kamduni: A Short Story on Killing


Debasish Chakraborty

in Kolkata


THE nondescript village of Kamduni struck the headlines through a horrible incident. It was a killing of a college student after mass rape, in broad daylight. Now, after nearly four months of agony and distress, Kamduni is victim of chilling terrorisation, State-sponsored bulldozing of the conscience.


On 7th June of this year, Kamduni, a village in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, witnessed its most tragic incident. A student, returning from her college around 2pm, alighted from the bus and was walking towards her home. Daughter of a very poor family, the girl was full of dreams, not only for her, but for the entire neighborhood. She was forcibly kidnapped, taken to a nearby construction site, was gang raped and finally murdered. Her body was thrown beside a pond.


Search for the girl started hours after, as her family members felt concerned as she did not return home even after evening. Neighbours began to search for her and some disturbing clues led them to the construction site. The caretaker, later proved to be one of the culprits, was forced to open the gates and the body was finally recovered. Outbursts of anger forced the initially indifferent police to act and some arrests were made. Some of the main culprits were still away and after mounting pressure and statewide condemnation, the police nabbed them. It was also clearly evident that the culprits were local level activists of Trinamool Congress and close to the local TMC boss. It was a wholesome case of lumpenisation of the village and its vicinity, abetted by the ruling party.


The subsequent events are already well known, much of them were reported in national media too. The villagers, infuriated, staged a demonstration with the dead body of the victim; the TMC member of the parliament who rushed to help the culprits was challenged angrily by the villagers. The chief minister initially refused to visit the victim’s family and was severely criticised by all sections of people in the state. Finally, she went there, visited the family for two minutes and instead of sharing of grief angrily shouted down the village women who wanted to tell her about the activities of the anti-socials in the area. Mamata Banerjee, famously told them to “shut up” but was responded by resilient villagers who told the chief minister that they would not shut their mouths.


They did not. The villagers continued their protests, in their own strength. Their demands were simple: adequate legal process, punishment for the culprits, and security for the villagers. They organised processions in the village, school children came out in numbers to demand justice for the victim. The father and brothers of the victim refused to accept compensation or employment from the state government. “Kamduni Pratibadi Mancha” (Kamduni Protest Forum) was formed with all sections of people in the village. The response from the ruling party and the government was ferocious from the beginning. Not only the protesting villagers were dubbed as agents of this or that political forces, they were hounded by police and local thugs.


Two women - Tumpa Koyal and Mousumi Koyal - who courageously faced the chief minister on her visit, were particularly targeted. They were even forced to stay away from the village. In the name of investigation, state police began to harass the villagers. The headmaster of the local school was served show-cause notice by the state government as students of his school protested the rape and murder. TMC MLAs and leaders from the other areas camped there and monitored virtually every movement of the villagers. The ruling party showed brutal inhumanity by organising picnic and ‘football tournament’ in the villages a few days after the killing. The villagers practically refused every such method of terrorisation and stood their ground. They even went to meet the President of India and expressed their grievances. The people of the state too were greatly anguished and waves of solidarity flooded throughout the nook and corner of the state. A mammoth rally was organised in Kolkata at the call of intellectuals where people mobilised breaking barriers of political polarisation. Kamduni became a synonym of courageous protest.


Meanwhile, the judicial process started and it was evident that the prosecution side was consciously lethargic to pin down the culprits. One after another plea from the culprits went virtually unchallenged and the real hearing was delayed. The court of hearing was also shifted from Barasat, the district headquarters and closer to Kamduni, to Kolkata. The villagers routinely gathered outside the premises of the court and were stunned to see the indifferent attitude of the government to fast track the judicial process. In one and last such gathering the police beat up the villagers in Kolkata and some of them were hospitalised. The uncle of the victim, an important witness in the case, was hurt in the police lathicharge and was later hospitalised with a chest pain. He expired in a Kolkata hospital under doubtful circumstances, triggering another round of protests.


The ruling party continued their pressure on the villagers to ‘shut up’. The uncanny pressure tactics were led by the minister in charge of food, Jyotipriya Mullick. TMC activists threatened villagers with dire consequences if they participate in protests. The entire village was practically under strict surveillance of TMC activists and state intelligence. Finally, the theatre of the absurd reached its nadir and a parallel organisation in the name of Kamduni Peace Committee was formed in district TMC office. Some of the TMC leaders became portfolio holders of the committee. They announced that from now on, this committee will monitor everything in the village and no protests would be allowed. The committee, a front of the ruling party, began to monitor everything including MNREGS work, distribution of ration to families etc. Anybody moving independently will face the wrath of the state administration, it was pronouncedly announced.


The terrorisation resulted in a tragic turn when the family of the victim was forced to declare their disassociation with the protesting villagers. The state government declared that they would provide employment to the father and brothers of the victim and compensation would be paid. This was done after the brothers were brought to the Writers’ Building to meet the chief minister. No one knows what transpired in the meeting but days later a leaflet in the name of the family was issued in which insinuations against the protesting villagers, particularly the faces of the protest - Tumpa and Mousumi were abundant. The leaflet, written in typical political language, heaped praises on the chief minister and her “Ma-Mati-Manush” philosophy and explicitly declared unquestioned loyalty to Mamata Banerjee. The leaflet, interestingly, was distributed in Writers Building by the state administration. “It does not reflect the views of the family, they were forced to sign in a blank paper”, the villagers told the media persons.


Kamduni was shocked. The villagers met and decided to know from the family the truth behind all these. But they were not allowed, a heavy protective ring of police persons were already deployed there. The villagers of Kamduni, as of now, decided not to go ahead with the platform they constituted for the protest. Many of them are scared, apprehending further attacks on them; some are frustrated, all hoping the culprits will still be punished.


Kamduni, the scene of a ghastly crime, has turned to be the place of State-sponsored killing of conscience. That West Bengal is not only witnessing an all round attack on political opposition, but also a frightening process of terrorisation of human spaces has been exposed in a marginal village.