The Evil Regime

On 14 June, Tapas Paul, a well-known film actor and Trinamul MP from the Krishnanagar constituency of West Bengal, announced at a rally at a village named Choumuha of the district of Nadia that if his political opponents touched any person belonging to his outfit, he world kill them and have their women raped by his boys. He repeated such outbursts at two other places, and in one place, his men reportedly broke down the house of a CPI(M) supporter at his direct instigation. At Choumuha he boasted of his mastan antecedents and proudly declared that he was a mastan of Chandannagore area (Chandannagore is a municipal town about 5 miles away from Kolkata). The video footage of Paul's speech reached the news media about two weeks later and two television channels gave it wide publicity. Common sense suggests that Tapas Paul should have been arrested and at the party level, stern action should have been taken against him by the Trinamul supremo who is called by her acolytes the symbol of probity. Tapas Paul tendered a written apology to his party and for Mamata Banerjee the matter ended there. But not for the people, however.

It is fresh in the memory of the people that on several occasions, arrests were made on the flimsiest of grounds. Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra of Jadavpur University and Shiladitya Chaudhury, a farmer of Lalgarh, are two examples. But here the SP of the Nadia district has found it convenient to remain a faithful lackey of the ruling party and not to touch Tapas Paul-this is the typical behaviour of police officers at least in West Bengal, with very few exceptions. Mamata Banerjee's last gesture has been to dismiss the matter as a triflish one and to accuse the media of raising an unnecessary hue and cry. Threats of murder and rape issued by an MP is certainly a triflish matter, while an innocuous cartoon and a question on the price of fertilizers are serious offences. This sort of media-bashing has not, however, carried conviction with anybody except some diehard Mamata loyalists.

It is intriguing that the present Chairperson of the Women's Commission, West Bengal has not used any condemnatory word against Tapas Paul, far from recommending an action against him, and has tried to dismiss the event as an ‘old tale’ (purano kasundi).

It is also somewhat puzzling that three noted film actresses and TMC MPs, namely Satabdi Ray (the brand ambassador of the fraudulent Saradah group), Sandhya Ray and Munmun Sen, have preferred to plead ignorance of the episode. It is clear how these woman celebrities of the film world value the dignity of women.

However, there is no dearth of unscrupulous Mamata loyalists among professors (retired or still in service), vice-chancellors, actors, painters, sports persons and other intellectuals, and they have preferred silence on this issue because they cannot publicly endorse Paul's actions or Mamata Banerjee's defence. On the other hand, spineless cowards as they are, they cannot demand punishment of Tapas Paul or condemn him is strong language because they need to please the supreme authority. But there are exceptions still. For example, two well-known social activists, namely Miratun Nahar and Bolan Gango-padhyay—they are not Congress or CPI(M) or BJP loyalists-have described Tapas Paul's speeches as the symbol of barbaric politics and demanded punishment of Paul for his offence. Gangopadhyay, while commenting on the issue, has mentioned the behaviour she and her teammates faced in Nandigram during 2007-08. They, again, are not lone voices. So there is a glimmer of hope. About the behaviour of the police, it can be added that in two instances of the district of Birbhum, the high-ranking police officers have shown that they are less loyal to the law and to normal human conscience than to the ruling party and its leaders. One thing may, however, be said in extenuation of their conduct. Like all opportunists, they value money and promotion above everything else, and hence it does not befit them to incur the wrath of the ruling party. A police officer with backbone has small chance of career advancement. So, let West Bengal bleed under the combined tyranny of the police and the ruling party, which had carefully built up a rigging machinery by using public money and used it in the polls this year. And let the crazy hypocrits get exposed.

Vol. 47, No. 2, Jul 20 - 26, 2014