Bogtui Carnage

The gruesome killing of  nine persons of whom four were women and a child at Bogtui village in Rampurhat sub-division of Birbhum district of West Bengal on 21 March proves once again that democracy is turning into a mockery in rural Bengal. Many villagers live in a traumatised milieu. Unfortunately, the chief minister of the state, Mamata Bannerjee keeps shielding culprits instead of punishing them. She seems committed to taking up cudgels for Anubrata Mandal a k a Kesto, district president of her party Trinamool Congress.

Listen to Shekhral Sheikh, whose wife Najma Bibi succumbed later to 65 percent burn injury. He accused followers of Bhadu Sheikh, upa pradhan (deputy chief) of local gram panchayat, who was killed on the same day reportedly by his factional opponents had set fire to several houses of the village. Bhadu used to resort to extortion in the area. He had at least 40 ‘disciples’ engaged in illegal activities. Extortion money would allegedly go to Trinamool leader Anarul Hossain and could have gone to the police and also to the Trinamool president of Birbhum district, Anubrata Mandal (Aajkaal, 28 March 2022). Illegal coal smuggling, sale of sand, etc go on with local police dancing to ‘Kesto’ tune. The palatial buildings of Bhadu Sheikh and Anarul Hossain lend credence to what Shekhral Sheikh revealed.

When the house was ablaze, the police station, less than a kilometre away remained mysteriously inactive. The police took half an hour to reach the spot while it could not have taken more than five minutes. Anubrata Mandal said that the house was on fire due to short circuit. Was he very keen to save those who set fire at the fateful hamlet? This man enjoys limitless protection from Mamata Banerjee. Which is why when he asked people to bomb police vehicles, the CM did not react. This was very much unbecoming of a CM.

Bogtui massacre reminds people of Sainbari massacre in the Burdwan district, adjacent to Birbhum, on 17 March 1970 by armed cadres and followers of Communist Party of India (Marxist). Remember killings of 11 landless agricultural labourers, who had switched over to the Trinamool Congress, by CPI (M) cadres and goons at Suchpur village in Nanoor, Birbhum district on 27 July 2000 when Budhadeb Bhattacharjee was the CM of West Bengal and home (police) minister. A decade after the incident, 44 people were sentenced to life imprisonment. Most of them were members of CPI (M) including a district secretariat member. None of them were expelled by CPI (M) – a proof that the violence was CPI (M)-sponsored.

 Looting the exchequer even at the grassroots level is the principal reason for recurring violence, murders, rape and all that.

West Bengal has been for many years, notorious for political violence. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, on an average there were 20 political killings a year between 1999 and 2016. In 1997, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as home (police) minister made a statement that between 1977 and 1996 there were over 28000 political killings in the state. That means on an average more than 1400 were killed for political reasons during the Left Front years. Political violence in Bengal politics is endemic.

Rural violence seems fissile in nature. Counter-violence cannot be ruled out. After all, extortionists rule the roost in a state which had been a citadel of the Left for over three decades. Pity is that the CM and Trinamool Congress chief has discovered a conspiracy behind the pogrom at Bogtui .Conspirators, she wants people to believe, are among those in protest movement against Deucha-Pachami coal mining project--a prescription for ecological disaster. This is a downright lie--an attempt to divert public attention.

Meanwhile, MLAs in the West Bengal Assembly exchanged blows as the Opposition demanded that CM Mamata Banerjee give a statement on the recent violence in Rampurhat, Birbhum. Five members of the BJP were suspended after the incident by the Speaker. A new low for parliamentary democracy in Bengal!


Back to Home Page

Vol 54, No. 41, April 10 - 16, 2022