Thursday, May 31, 2007

The pus focus of a deep festering abscess

http://www.thestatesman.org/page.news.php?clid=4&theme=&usrsess=1&id=157812

by Sunanda Sanyal

What’s absolutely the limit to violence on their women that males in Bengal can bear with? What future do those living in Bengal intend for their children? These are two of the many questions that confront us today, following the state terrorism at Singur and Nandigram.
On 18 December, 2006, Tapasi Malik went out, before it got light, to defecate in a field close to her house at Singur. Girls her age have to because the state government has failed to cash in on the centrally-sponsored Nirmal Gram (Clean Village) Project which funds toilets in poor homes. Tapasi was seized by the hands and legs, gagged, and repeatedly raped. She was lifted to a fireplace and thrust into it – headfirst. Well, my description of her death by fire is imaginary but, you can see, the reality must have been as grim, if not grimmer. However, contemporary Bengal failed to sense the searing pain Tapasi had been through – till she died. We in Bengal failed to burst into the kind of rage that the CPI-M takes seriously. And Nandigram happened, as a result!
Dr Sarmistha Roy, who has worked with medical teams at Nandigram, says the women in particular had been shot at the genitalia. A cadre, reported Medha Patkar to the Governor, pressed a rod into a woman’s vagina. Her uterus ruptured. Another woman, Kabita Das (35), was pinned between two sticks, and gang raped. Her husband tried to rescue her, but forced to watch on instead, since the cadres had threatened to dash their six-month-old baby to the ground and stamp it underfoot. The Statesman reported (21 March) that Sahadeb Pramanick (30), a CPI-M cadre from Gangra, was caught on 20 March while sneaking into Sonachura. He admitted to having raped two women, including a 13-year-old, on 14 March. It is also widely reported that police had opened fire near a bridge on March 14, virtually helping the CPI-M cadres to shepherd 17 girls into a deserted house owned by Shankar Samanta, a CPI-M leader. The CBI officials later found bits and pieces of women’s undergarments there, stained with blood. “Villagers had heard women’s shrieks from that house, which the cadres guarded.”
Led by Ganamukti Parishad, this writer visited Tamluk Hospital where he met a farmer’s wife in her twenties. Seeing a man in his mid-seventies, she confided that she was gang raped in the presence of policemen, the cadres tore off her blouse, and bit off her nipples. One of the women she knew had a part of her cheek bitten off. I urged the camera crew of a Bengali TV news channel, shooting around, to record her experience. But she didn’t breathe a word of what she had unburdened to me. I later heard Dola Sen reporting, at the instance of Mamata Banerjee, to Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi that the number of women thus maimed ran into hundreds.
The whole truth, though, will never be out with the CPI-M government, headed by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, in place. And Biman Bose expects people to “forget about Nandigram very soon”. Our insensitivity to Tapasi’s death shows that he might well be right.
Reportedly again, when cadres and police together acting in tandem went on the rampage at Nandigram, a child was seen falling to a cadre’s bullet. A woman rushed to him. They beat her with truncheons. She fled. The cadres beheaded the child, dead or half dead, for the ease of transportation – or for the fun of it. Some they buried and covered with slabs of concrete. They disembowelled the rest, so that the corpses wouldn’t float, stuffed the severed heads and torsos into sacks, drove off in truckloads, and flung them into the canals. Those who ended up in the hospitals had bullets in their heads, stomachs, chests and so on, which proves that the cadres had shot to kill them. The Dainik Statesman has since published photographs of a cadre in police uniform thrashing a villager. A local shop, called Sunny Tailors, sewed the uniforms.
The whole operation was a blitzkrieg – masterminded by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Nirupam Sen – with Laksman Seth, Benoy Konar, Biman Bose and the rest of the party providing logistic support at various levels. Much as Buddhadeb owns up his “constitutional responsibility”, he pleads innocence. Kshiti Goswami, RSP leader, said on TV Buddha had two faces – one of them was a mask. Prasad Ranjan Ray, state home secretary, commented: “We had mobilised forces on the basis of Intelligence reports… of course in the full knowledge of the chief minister.” Unsurprisingly, the most preferred charge against Buddha is that he is a “habitual liar”, a “confirmed liar”.
The Dainik Statesman reports (10 March) that at a meeting of 14 political leaders and police, the District Magistrate of East Midnapore announced that “any resistance to the repair of the bridges and roads at Nandigram would be dealt with according to the law of the land”. On 13 March in another meeting held at the house of Sambhu Maiti (CPI-M), police and cadres together decided on the plan of action for the capture of Sonachura and Nandigram. They fabricated fake number plates for the cars in which to carry off dead bodies, the caps the cadres and their leaders would put on – down to the last detail.
Another report says the CBI found at the Jononi Brickfield, where the cadres had encamped, buntings, bulletins and leaflets of various CPI-M outfits, six police helmets, a Chinese revolver, 500 bullets, 14 country-made firearms, nine modern rifles and two binoculars.
Now given the size of the village, and the time (two to three hours) taken to complete the operation, the whole village, including children, must have witnessed the arson, rape and murder in action. What is to become of them – particularly the children? Small wonder, Bengal’s society today teems with arsonists, rapists and supari killers.
Dr Tapash Bhattacharjee, who frequently visits Nandigram with medical help, says living as they do under the depressing prospect of a perpetual threat of CPI-M attacks, the young men there demand “weapons rather than medicines”. The fear is not baseless, if you keep in mind Benoy Konar’s warning that only the first two of the “five-act play” are over.
Actually the CPI(M)-run state government is the pus focus of a deep social abscess that has festered over the past 30 years. Its brand of politics is an unremitting evil. It splits the entire society into us and them: those who take dictates of Alimuddin Street are us – the rest them. When the farmers of Nandigram, including their cadres, disobeyed the party, Benoy Konar threatened to knock hell out of them (life hell kore debo). Konar, of Sainbari notoriety, in which a young Sain was hacked to death before his mother, had earlier warned that, should Mahasveta Devi, Medha Patkar or Mamata Banerjee dare to visit Nandigram, the women of his party would show their bottoms (pachha). And he was as good as his word. He wouldn’t care if what he said had demeaned Indian womanhood, not to speak of that of his own party. So the villagers of Singur and Nandigram had to pay the price with arson, rape and murder. If the CPI-M has its way, the rest of India will have to in the not too distant future.

(The author is former member, West Bengal Education Commission)

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