By Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati
The brutal rape and murder of Tapasi Malik, the 18 year old girl who was a highly motivated member of the Save Farmland Committee spearheading the struggle against land acquisition in Singur, had sent shockwaves through the body politic of West Bengal last year. The Save Farmland Committee had accused the CPI(M) cadre who double as night-guards for the fenced off area of land, forcibly acquired for setting up Tata’s factory at Singur. The CBI had taken up the investigation due to strong protests against the incident. However, CPI(M) leaders and the police had tried to pass it off variously as suicide, result of a love affair etc. Most vociferous and prominent among these was Debu Malik, who appeared on several TV channels claiming to have seen Tapasi go towards the fenced off area with a can of kerosene in her hand. Soon, and sure enough, some intellectuals serving the CPI(M) took up the task of adding a new twist to the story.
In a widely circulated article which appeared on the prestigious American leftist newsletter Counterpunch on May 23, 2007, Sudhanva Deshpande and Vijay Prashad wrote the following about the death of Tapasi Malik:
“Stories were blown out of context, and allegations flew around (sexual assaults, murders) that have since been shown to be false. The most sensational was the murder of a young woman, Tapasi Malik, who had been a leader in the Singur struggle against the land acquisition. The blogs and the capitalist media blamed this death on the CPM. The Central Bureau of Investigation is now of the view that she was killed by her father and brother.”
The two authors cavalierly accused the bereaved father and brother of the victim for her murder, without attributing it to any source, and passed it off as an assessment of the CBI. It now turns out that the only source on which this accusation was based was an article in the CPI(M) organ Peoples Democracy which said the following on the matter
“NEW and definitive light has been shed on the murder of a young woman named Tapasi Malik. Tapasi was done away brutally nearly five months ago one early morning on December 8 and her remains stuffed in a hole within the limits of the automobile factory that is coming up at Singur. Her body was set on fire and was partially burnt. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the case now believes that the young woman’s father and brother might have had something to do with her murder.”
The article went on to say “In all probability, the duo (Tapasi’s father and brother) will be subjected to sophisticated probing techniques as narco-analysis, brain-mapping and DNA testing. The blood samples taken from the murder site apparently do not match the samples of blood collected from Monoranjan and Surajit. The father-and-son may also be subjected to a ‘lie-detector’ or ‘polygraph’ test.” All this was attributed to un-named “CBI officials” talking to an un-named “all-India English daily”. A miasma was tactically created to accuse the father and brother Tapasi Malik for her death and was propagated by Vijay Prashad and Sudhanva Deshpande in their article.
Now let us fast-forward to the facts which has been coming out in the last few days. The person whom the CBI subjected to the lie-detector test were not the father and brother of Tapasi but Debu Malik, the powerful CPI(M) activist from the area who was in charge of organizing the CPI(M) cadre for safeguarding the land acquired for their capitalist master. Debu Malik failed the test and broke down under interrogation to confess to the crime of raping and murdering Tapasi. Interestingly, he also confessed that it was done on the orders of Suhrid Datta, the influential Singur zonal committee secretary of CPI(M) who was also subsequently arrested. Debu is also the close confidante and driver of the former CPI(M) Singur zonal committee secretary and current district committee member Dibakar Das, who was also called up by the CBI for interrogation.
It has become clear that the entire crime was ordered by the local CPI(M) leadership to teach a lesson to the teenager protesting the loss of her family’s livelihood. Binay Kongar, the CPI(M) leader who is officiating as the CPI(M) state secretary in absence of Biman Bose who is enjoying a vacation in the USA, has disowned Debu Malik by saying that he is a “supporter/voter” of the party and not a “member”. However, the arrest of Suhrid Datta and the possible arrest of Dibakar Das has somewhat subdued the tone of the normally indomitable Binay Kongar. What this incident has also done is to expose the bankruptcy of the CPI(M) allied intellectuals who propagate the falsehoods emanating from their party in a Goebbelsian manner, hoping that a lie repeated a hundred times will become the truth.
CPI(M) men arrested for Tapasi Malik’s murder
The Statesman, KOLKATA, June 29
Two CPI-M activists, Mr Suhrid Dutta and Mr Debu Malik, who were arrested in connection with the Tapasi Malik murder case, were remanded in CBI custody by the additional chief judicial magistrate of the Chandernagore SDJM court in Hooghly today.
Mr Dutta, a CPI-M Hooghly district committee member and his associate Mr Debu Malik, were charged under sections 302, 120 (B), 376 and 201 of the IPC, said Mr Tapas Basu, CBI advocate who submitted a remand application before the court. He said the CBI had found evidence of the duo’s involvement in the murder. The magistrate later ordered the CBI to present Mr Malik before the court on 7 July. Mr Dutta was remanded in CBI custody till 12 July. Mr Dutta, who is also the secretary of the CPI-M Singur zonal committee, alleged that he was falsely implicated. The duo was produced before the court around 10.50 a.m. CBI officers grilled Mr Dibakar Das, another CPI-M Hooghly district committee member, yesterday but he was not detained.
More than a thousand supporters of the Trinamul Congress, SUCI and other Opposition parties staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the court gate demanding that the accused be handed over to them for punishment. The agitators were chased away. Tension ran high in the court premises after local CPI-M supporters assembled in the area to take out a rally alleging “highhandedness” of the CBI. They alleged that Mr Dutta fell victim to a conspiracy of “Opposition parties”.
Defence counsel Mr Keshablal Mukherjee, who submitted the bail application for Mr Dutta, said the 55-year-old CPI-M leader should be released on bail considering his health condition. He claimed that Mr Dutta was framed by his rivals. The CBI advocate, however, countered the allegations and told the magistrate that the investigating agency had got evidence of the leader’s involvement in the crime. He said that Mr Malik had given a statement under Section 164 CrPC before the Patiala metropolitan magistrate court disclosing Mr Dutta’s involvement in the murder. Mr Malik reportedly told the CBI that five other men were involved in the murder which took place on 18 December last year. The CBI advocate said the murder was committed to creating a fear psychosis among the people of the area. Advocate Mr Kishor Mondal, who submitted the bail petition for Mr Malik said the CBI officers “had drugged his client” to keep him silent in the court. “Debu was under the influence of drugs when he was produced before the court. He didn’t respond to my quarries,” said Mr Mondal. The defence counsel said they would decide on the next course of action after speaking to the family members of the accused.
Meanwhile, Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee supporters and their counterparts in the CPI-M today took out rallies trading charges against each other. While the former demanded capital punishment for the accused, the later alleged that the CBI and the Opposition parties have conspired against Mr Dutta. Interestingly, Mr Malik, who was very close to the CPI-M, has fallen from grace and the party has already started stamping him as “a mere sympathiser of the party.” Trinamul Congress chief Miss Mamata Banerjee visited Tapasi’s residence at Bajemelia and assured villagers that no criminal would be spared. She will address a meeting of the Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee to be held at Singur tomorrow.