More on ‘Muluk’


An earlier issue of Frontier (June 7-13) published a note written by this correspondent on a murder case. Four persons were murdered allegedly by CPI(M) activists on 19 November, 1987 in a village named Muluk adjacent to Bolpur, Birbhum. On 31 March 2009, forty -six persons were sentenced to life imprisonment by the district sessions court. After about fifteen months of imprisonment, they received bail from the Calcutta High Court to which they had made an appeal against the judgment. Then most of the convicted persons joined the Trinamul Congress, while a few remained loyal to their original party. On 6 July 2015 Justice Nadira Patheriya and Justice Indrajit Chatterjee delivered their judgment dismissing the appeal and asking the accused to surrender within one month before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Suri, Birbhum to serve the remaining part of the sentences. The appellate court also ordered the payment of Rs 2 lakhs from the state exchequer to the family of each victim. The convicted persons are now reportedly preparing to approach the Supreme Court. The episode, of which the CPI(M) daily, Ganashakti, tried to portray an utterly false picture—it branded the victims as dacoits—only speaks of the then prevailing attitude of the CPI(M). The incident occurred because being the principal ruling party, the CPI(M) had decided that it would not brook any opposition and particularly Naxalites of any variety. Earlier instances were also there. In 1984, six persons, belonging to the CPI(ML), were killed at a village named Gopalpur in the district of Nadia, and reportedly the pradhan of the local panchayat masterminded and supervised the operation. One of the members of Jyoti Basu's cabinet, himself a veteran left leader, shamelessly suggested that in that area, the panchayat was not controlled by their party, the CPI(M). The event caused quite a stir and important social activists including Maitreyi Devi visited the spot and demanded justice. Nagbhusan Pattanaik met Jyoti Basu and demanded a judicial probe into the murder. Quite naturally, the demand was not met. As far as this correspondent knows, the killers finally got away with impunity. Here justice was first delayed and then denied.

Turning to the 'Muluk' case again, it should be pointed out that the charge of the case was framed on 8 March 1990, but the first witness was examined more than fourteen years later, on 5 July 2004. In the Bolpur-Santiniketan area, Naxalites had a significant presence and that is probably why the charge could be framed—they built up considerable pressure on the administration and the police. Yet there was huge delay, which is explicable only in terms of the fact that the CPI(M) was then the ruling party in West Bengal. On this inordinate delay, the appellate bench has commented, "On scrutiny of the sessions court record we are satisfied that the defence tried to delay the proceedings as much as it could, but criminal trial is not won by delaying the trial."

It may be noted that despite many misdeeds of the Trinamul Congress government and their adverse impact on the popular mind, the CPI(M), even after four years of its ouster from power, is far from finding its feet. Its hands at the grassroots level have, in a large number of cases, deserted to the TMC, the sequel to the Muluk case being only one example. This situation has not been created overnight. It is the upshot of a long-drawn process of opportunism, chicanery and party dictatorship (the dictatorship of a party increasingly aligning itself with the interests of the corporate tycoons). In order to impose this dictatorship, the CPI(M) set up a rule of covert and overt, crude and subtle, terror with the help of the police. Although the TMC is doing the same now in a more blatant manner, the people who are increasingly disillusioned with the TMC are yet to come in support of the CPI(M). The BJP, with its pro corporate-Hindutva ideology, has been trying to fill up the vacuum. What is in store for West Bengal is very much uncertain.

Vol. 48, No. 6, Aug 16 - 22, 2015