Calcutta Notebook


On 28 January, A young man named Arup Bhandari, a resident of the Salkia region of Howrah district of West Bengal was mercilessly beaten to death because he protested against teasing of girls by some lumpen youths. Bhandari was not associated with any political party, and the assailants were all known Trinamul Congress (TMC) activists or persons close to the ruling party. The local police first refused to record the complaint, but they yielded the next day under public pressure. They however did their duty; while the victim was in a coma stage, struggling with death, they preferred to remain inactive. When Arup Bhandari finally succumbed to his injuries on 2 February, the police, obviously faced by the angry public, said that although they were trying to apprehend the culprits they had fled to other states. It is perfectly clear what had happened. The police deliberately remained inactive so as to allow the killers enough time to flee. Throwing all senses of shame, the Trinamul Congress posted a banner mentioning Bhandari as a TMC activist, but the local people brought down this banner. The Chief Minister as usual has tried the bait of a job, but this has not been enough to make the family of the victim give up the demand for strong punishment of the guilty. The Chief Minister has, however, met the family of the deceased, but after coming out of his house, has tried to hint that the murder might have been the outcome of some factional rivalry. This piece of mendacity has not, however, had many takers and the brother of Arup Bhandari has emphatically denied it. The evil nexus between the police and the ruling party, even when lives of human beings are at stake, once again got naked. Those who have some sort of human feeling should not disagree with the suggestion that the guilty policemen too should give exemplary punishment. Another revelation, which is not at all surprising, has added to the embarassment of the ruling party, which is already cornered owing to the many revelations about the Saradah and other scams. Shortly after coming to power, Mamata Banerjee's government began to give lavish donations to many clubs in the name of promotion of sports. A few months ago, it added to the list of such clubs of Kolkata and spent a huge amount of money on such donations. Now it has transpired that very few, if any, of these clubs have nothing to do with promotion of games and sports : they are more interested in festivals like Kali Puja, Durga Puja etc. The recorded address of one club, it has been found, is the residential address of the local TMC councillor. Another club that has received donations has as its members only those who are sixty plus in age.

One phenomenon is ominous. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which represents the queer combination of Hindu obscurantism and large corporate interests, has been frantically trying to fill up the political void and the misconception of the educated middle class Bengalis, many among them professed progressives, has been helping it. A large number of persons have joined the BJP in order to counter the tyranny of the TMC. The CPI (M) and the forces on the left of the CPI(M) are as yet unable to make much headway. There are, however, spontaneous protests against general misdeeds, for example the movement of students named Hok Kolorob, which has finally forced the spineless and worthless vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University to resign. That Mamata Baneriee's hypocrisy has not been able to stem the popular tide of anger at the cruel murder of Arup Bhandari and at the rough bahaviour of the custodians of law and order provides another example suggesting that the humanity of the people has not died as yet.

Vol. 47, No. 33, Feb 22 -28, 2015