Kamduni–2 Years Later

It was 7 June 2014. A college girl, while returning home, was captured, gangraped and then murdered on a walled ground. The place was a village named Kamduni in the district of North 24-Parganas. The principal culprit was reportedly a Trinamul Congress loyalist. The event raised widespread indignation and protest throughout West Bengal. A few days later, Mamata Banerjee went to the place and promised that the accused persons would be chargesheeted within 15 days and punishment for the guilty would be declared within a month. Two years have passed since then, and Mamata Banerjee's boastful pronouncement has proved to be empty talk.

This was not altogether unexpected. Two ladies, who were homemakers, wanted to talk with Mamata Banerjee with the intention of drawing attention to the inadequacy of the minimum provisions of security there. But Mamata Banerjee, instead of talking to them, branded them as Maoists. The two ladies, Mousumi Kayal and Tumpa Kayal, however refused to relent, and a platform of protest was formed mainly at their initiative. A schoolteacher who joined them was harassed in many ways by the administration, but refused to budge. The Trinamul Congress and its chief however went on playing their own game. They formed a peace committee, ostensibly with the purpose of breaking the protest movement and relegating the issue of punishment of the guilty to the background. Meanwhile, the government dangled the bait of a job to a brother of the victim. The victim’s family accepted it and then, probably afraid of the barrage of condemnation attitude of the protesters, deserted the place to settle elsewhere, thus weakening the protest movement much to the satisfaction of the administration. Yet the protest movement, spurred by the extraordinary courage displayed by these two ladies and supported by a good number of other persons, continues, braving all sorts of obstacles. The accused persons have however managed to shift the trial to the Calcutta City Sessions Court from the Barasat Court (nearest sessions court), thus causing considerable inconveneience to the witnesses. Some witnesses have reportedly succumbed to the intimidations. The way a minister of Mamata Banerjee's cabinet has tried to eschew the question of punishment of the guilty by referring to the programme of cheap rations and donations to clubs—such donations are patently designed to create TMC loyalists at the expense of the public exchequer—only speak of the ruling party's desire to delay the process of trial and shield the culprits.

What is curious is the extraordinary reticence on the part of Mahasweta Devi, Bibhas Chakravarty and some other well-known champions of civil liberties. The minions of Mamata Banerjee among the educated urban elite, who have been drawing various types of benefits from the TMC-government, are not expected to come out in protest against such unthinkable and horrific violence against women, since they have already sacrificed their conscience at the altar of temporary material gains. Money in the pocket does not lie. But Mahasweta Devi was known to belong to a different species. Can't persons like her behave conscientiously in this regard?

Vol. 47, No. 50, June 21 - 27, 2015