Mainstream, VOL LII No 50, December 6, 2014
West Bengal: Khagragarh Blast — A New Challenge for Security and Harmony
Sunday 7 December 2014, by
The of grenade explosion in the first floor of a rented house at Khagragarh in West Bengal’s Burdwan town on October 2, 2014, in between the Durga Puja and Iduzzuha festivals, is alarming for many obvious reasons. The two persons killed in the blast, identified as Shakil Ahmed alias Shakil Gazi and Swapan alias Sovan Mandal, are believed to have links with the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen of Bangladesh. Their widows—Gulshana Bibi alias Rajia, Shakil’s wife, and Alima Bibi alias Amina, Halim’s wife—were arrested and interrogated. Abdul Halim, a third person, was seriously injured in the blast and shifted from the Burdwan Medical College to Kolkata for safe treatment at the care of the police.
Hassan Chowdhury, commonly known as a TMC activist, a former government employee and now the owner of this two-storeyed house, had given the first floor on rent to Shakil Gazi without any knowledge about the other persons living and working in that peculiar house. He allowed the TMC to run their office in a motor garage and a homoepathy chamber for their accommodation in the ground floor. The Burdwan Police, then the CID, then the NIA and NSG are engaged in investigating into the matter. The materials siezed by them at the site of the blast are: 50 cell phone SIM cards, five cell phones, numerous epics, books, pamphlets etc.
Why Burdwan was Chosen
The Burdwan Junction is a good railway station for easy accessibility to any part of India and very easy even for a stranger to pass on to the border in order to sneak into Bangladesh. It has a good old tradition for a common man to make both ends meet daily at minimum cost, a good market with a fertile area, and an industrial zone stretching towards Durgapur-Asansol in the west. It has geographical proximity to Birbhum, Nadia, Murshidabad and Maldah districts and then Bangladesh in the east.
Burdwan is basically a town of peace, prosperity and stability. After the volatile situation arising out of the political turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s (the brutal murder of Com, Mahadeb Mukherjee at the Kalna Station and the Sain Bari massacre) no spectacular incident took place during the last three-and-a-half-decades of the Left Front Government’s administration.
The house rent is very cheap here to live in. Khagragarh, Badshahi Road, Baburbag, Shimulia comprise a mixed area standing on the high road. The area enjoys all aspects of human comforts and communication. It became a safe haven for the extremists. So they wanted to avail themselves of this advantage in order to set-up bomb-shops here and transport those to Bangladesh. The Left had a centralised well-knit organisation which has now grown weak. The BJP is a rising but not yet determinant force. The influence of the Trinamul has expanded but the lumpens and destitutes have occupied the TMC leadership. The vast ground to till is left open before the RSS and Siddiquallah Chowdhury. Time will decide the fate of the area.
Cause and Effect Relationship
The incident is not only confined within the term of “terror strike” but actually a coup in nature against another nation. A robust network of six hundred operatives was trying to set up its base in India in a bid to overthrow the Awami League from power in Bangladesh. “The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, Bangladesh (JMB) has to co-ordinate with the Answarulla Bangla, Jamat Muslimeen, Hefajat-e-Islam, and Tanjim Tomiruddin in order to execute this plan.”
The JMB has a larger agenda:
a) To overthrow the Awami League and to establish the Sariah law in Bangladesh.
b) To set up a greater Bangladesh by creating many mini-Bangladeshs in West Bengal, Megha-laya, Assam, with the ultimate aim and objective to establish the Caliphat as per the wish of its supreme leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
The most important characteristic feature of this adventure is a) women’s participation, b) Jihadi ideology, c) knowledge of chemistry and technology, d) funding by Saradha, e) the Jamaat-al-Qaeda and SIMI joined hands in this venture under the organisation, Al-Jihadi.
For taking advantage from this venture, Mamata Banerjee has been accused of being soft to the Jamaat and its plans. According to the NIA statement,
Migrants from Bangladesh have traditionally crossed the border for livelihood. But recent arrivals reportedly consist mostly of radical elements chased away by the Sheikh Hasina Government. These migrants seem to be finding protection in West Bengal under the ruling Trinamul Congress party that allegedly uses them to supply it with votes and muscle power.
The TMC MP, Ahmed Imran, was accused of moving the Saradha funds through the Jamaat’s hawala channel. Mamata Banerjee was roundly criticised by the Bangladesh Government and the elite people in West Bengal when she had opposed the Teesta Water-sharing Agreement between India and Bangladesh. Due to the unholy nexus between the TMC and Jamaat-e-Islami, India’s foreign policy was compromised. It is Mamata Banerjee who indiscriminately allowed the extremist elements to flourish across the State of West Bengal, and some of these set up the bomb-shop at Khagragarh in Burdwan.
The problem is not confined within a nation’s boundary or within a community. Rather, it is an international phenomenon. The Marxist conclusion is that terrorism and communalism are the twin offsprings of capitalism. Unless capitalism is abolished in society, terrorism and communalism cannot be brought to an end. They are comple-mentary to each other. They do not have any colour, community and country of their own. They assume a sovereign character, behind which works US imperialism and neo-liberalism. Today the neo-liberal capitalist exploitative system is the enemy of the Left and the peoples of India and Bangladesh. The Burdwan incident, that is, the episode of bomb-making before transporting those bombs into Bangladesh, is a by-product of this international menace.
It is a challenge to the communal harmony of West Bengal and also the security of the nation. It is also a challenge to democracy and secularism as are prevailing under the govern-ment of Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh. Today we find a continuous struggle between secular and democratic forces of Bangladesh on the one side and the religio-fascism of the Jamaat-BNP-Hefajat-e-Islam in the Opposition camp on the other. The most honoured heroes of the Shahbag protest movement have complained that Saudi Arabia and US imperialism have added fuel to the Jamaat fire only to destabilise the peaceful political situation of Bangladesh. It is not the Maktabs or Madrassas which harbour terrorists but the imperialist design which produces terrorists within the country. So even if the 15 to 25 young Muslim girls and boys, found in the Burdwan episode, are held responsible for the project to carry out massacre in Bangladesh, the entire Muslim community living therein cannot be held responsible for this development.
Undesirable Criticism of Madrassas
According to the political version of the RSS and BJP, all Indian Muslim citizens are anti-national and terrorist; the Madrassa means the birthplace of terrorists; and the Khariji Madrassa means an illegal institution which is only an arms-producing factory. This is a wrong conception about the historical necessity of the foundation and functioning of Madrassas.
“This (Madrassa) is actually an in-built system of Muslim society which worked for the spread of education among the Muslim masses through the ages without any break.” Primarily it may appear as ”the centre of Islamic culture and civilisation intended only to serve the elite or the world’s upper strata of society”. But today there is scope for the common people to benefit from the Madrassa. In the 1980s we demanded the modernisation of Madrassa education from the LF Government of West Bengal. Its syllabus and curriculum should be integrated with modern science and technology. The Madrassa should not be left in isolation. We should always keep in mind that the “space of a temple” could get polluted by the foul play of the miscreants. So, the temple is not responsible, but it is the ill-will of some handful of people which is responsible for the pollution of the sacred temple. Who killed Mahatma Gandhi? Did he come from the “Khariji” Madrassa?
Everybody’s Loss—BJP’s Gain
The BJP has been brought to power at the Centre by the Indian corporates in co-ordination with the neo-liberal forces. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the product of a combination of corporate culture and Hindutva. A firm, strong RSS-mind, bold and courageous diplomat, orator, Narendra Modi demands the withdrawal of Article 370, introduction of a uniform civil code, building of the Ram temple at Ayodhya, prohibition of cow slaughter in India. The rise of Narendra Modi in the political firmament of New Delhi indicates the Right-wing surge in Indian politics which is becoming funda-mentalist and Rightist in nature. This is a danger to the minority community, to the Left and working class people, and to the common men and women as a whole.
The BJP favours polarisation on the basis of religion in the fields of education and culture. In economy, they prefer liberalisation, privati-sation, globalisation (LPG). The BJP’s rise is the rise of majoritarianism in India. Such a rise indicates the rise of Hindu fundamentalist forces which is sure to invite the growth of minority fundamentalism. The defeated minority in competition in Indian society will proceed to walk on the road of terrorism. It may rise in “Khariji” Madrassa, or in Kashmir, in Punjab, in Assam, or anywhere else in India. People will lose the ground; only the BJP will gain. All the benefit goes to the BJP when people are divided on the basis of religion, caste or creed.
This is shown by the mandate of the Basirhat Assembly election in North 24-Parganas of West Bengal. In the rural areas the minority vote went to the TMC and in the urban areas the Hindu middle class votes went to the BJP. Such a voting pattern is very common in the border areas. In Calcutta’s Chowringhee Assembly seat, the BJP was defeated but held the second position above the Congress and CPI-M. The BJP is getting higher percentage of voting in the urban areas. The TMC is gaining in the erstwhile rural bastions of the CPI-M and Left, whereas the BJP is getting the Congress votes in the urban areas. Polarisation is standing between the BJP and Trinamul. Before 2011 the CPI-M and Left became insignificant and were alienated from the people and Mamata Banerjee (TMC) filled up the vacuum. Today the TMC is becoming insignificant and the entire vacuum is going to be filled up by the RSS and BJP and their Right reactionary associates.
What does the Burdwan episode indicate to the people, politics and administration today?
• It is a danger for the security of the people and institutions.
• It is a danger for communal harmony, peace and progress of society.
• It is a danger for democracy and secularism.
• It is a danger for the federalism implicit in the Indian Constitution.
• It shows the inefficacy of the administration.
The author, a prominent figure in the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) in West Bengal, is a former Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha).