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Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 1

Questions that beg Answers from the CPI-M

Tuesday 25 December 2007, by Surendra Mohan

The cause of the demise of a young Bengali, Rizwanur in Kolkata has remained a mystery. After his body was found near a railway track, the police announced that it was a case of suicide. However, the evidence placed before the public pointed to something else. It came to be suspected that the death of the young man, who had married the daughter of a Hindu family, was a premeditated murder. It is well known that the State Government and high police officials pretended as if there was no cause for concern. However, the links of this dastardly crime with the father of the widowed young woman were getting exposed as the statements of the relatives of Rizwanur started to pile up. Then, the High Court ordered that the case be enquired into by the CBI. Per force, the police had to transfer the investigation to the latter.

However, the people felt that the State Government was not very happy with these developments. Reports were coming in that Rizwanur’s close relatives were being pressurised by those close to the woman’s parents and attempts were being made by these people to offer bribes to the relatives and friends of Rizwanur. The police ignored these reports. Now that the investigation is being carried out by the CBI, the father of the widow has been closely questioned.

The State Government decided during one of these days to remove Taslima Nasreen, the famous author from Bangladesh, who had sought asylum in India and was living in Kolkata, to Rajasthan. It said that her presence was creating communal tensions. Taslima has been living in Kolkata for over a decade, and never before did the government take that position. The sudden development, surprising as it was, came in the wake of a big rally convened by several Muslim organsations whose existence had not been noticed before. The police did nothing to stop the violence in which the rallyists indulged in on a large scale. However, it gave a handle to the Left Front Government headed by the CPI-M to order the distinguished author to leave West Bengal. She was flown to Jaipur where a State Government committed to Hindutva is in power.

These three incidents have made the intelligentsia to ask whether they have some interconnection. Why was an inter-marriage punished with the assassination of the husband, with impunity in a secular and progressive government? How could the fanatic zealots be permitted to engage in blatant roudyism? Why was the government so very keen to be pressured by a communal gathering? And, why did it force Taslima out of West Bengal by ignoring all its commitments to democracy, fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, free speech and free press and its ethos of secularism? Is there ‘something rotten in the State of Denmark’ and what is it?

IT cannot be a pure coincidence that all these developments, constituting appeasement of Islamic fundamentalism, have happened when the Government was on the mat for its nefarious role in Nandigram. The police accompanied the CPI-M’s cadres to this area and let them loose on the innocent people who had been resisting the forcible takeover of their agricultural land which meant their displacement and the destruction of their sole occupation. All kinds of atrocities were being committed in connivance with the police. Women, in particular, were targeted especially by the anti-social elements. Rape became an ordinary crime in comparison with their barbaric mutilation of the hapless women’s bodies. Words fail to describe those third degree methods. Medha Patkar, the courageous fighter that she is, was not only gheraoed but she was once again made to undergo the experience she had in March 2002, in Narendra Modi’s Ahmedabad. At least, in this respect, Buddhadeb’s State-directed goondas behaved in a fashion similar to Modi’s.

It is quite possible that with the proverbial cynicism of those who are not sanctimonious about the means that they adopt to achieve their ends, the CPI-M had decided to divert the people’s attention in a powerful manner from its blood-stained hands in Nandigram. It was trying to obtain all its objectives: the occupation on Nandigram by use of brute force; the appeasement of a sizeable vote- bank and the silencing of its critics, particularly in the Left circles. It also used the old accusation with which all the peaceful agitations of the people have been smeared with and suppressed. The Hindutva driven Chhattisgarh Government has decided to teach all those who were condemning its authoritarian methods and its encroachment of the human rights, by keeping Dr Binayak Sen in prison for the last seven months. It has charged Sen with being close to the CPI-ML groups, and the People’s War Group in particular. He has been a stalwart in the trade union field, has worked as a medical doctor with humanist ethics and has sought to safeguard civil liberties as the national Vice- President of the PUCL.

The West Bengal Government has also blamed the high influx of Bangladeshis in the area. It has pointed to the proximity of Nandigram with Bangladesh and also to the land and sea routes between them. The reason is that a large proportion of those killed and wounded persons in Nandigram are Muslims. The government charged the agitators of being misled by the extremist Muslim organisations, though it is known that only Jamait- ul- Ulema has been a part of the agitation. The whole history of the Jamait in India is suffused with nationalism. It has been working closely with the Congress party since independence. The CPI-M leaders are aware of all these facts. Cleverly, they never refer to the Jamait, but to extremist or fundamentalist Muslim groups, without naming them.

It is obvious that the CPI-M has not only sold out its total credibility for the setting up of some industries, but has also been reversing its own proud land reforms. These reforms had helped the party to sink its roots deep in the soil of West Bengal and it is on that record that it has ruled the State in an uninterrupted manner for three decades. It is cutting the roots of the tree on whose branches it has perched itself for so long. This reminds us of one of Kalidas’ well-known anecdotes. Why is the party so blind to its own future? Is it only for the industrialisation of the State? For, this kind of industrialisation cannot generate more employment; it certainly displaces human hands with machines. Why is the veteran Jyoti Basu quiet? After all, he was the author of the land reforms. Yet, he has been watching the spectacle silently. His Land Reforms Secretary, the retired bureaucrat D. Bandyopadhyay has, however, been extremely upset and has written sharply against it, but also against everything that has been taking place in that unfortunate area.

Why are the three allies of the CPI-M not protesting in a way which will hurt it and, maybe, compel it to change course? They have distanced themselves from the terror that had engulfed Nandigram. At one point, their Ministers had threatened to withdraw from the government, but the parties asked them to continue. Why? For, sometimes such courage should be encouraged. All these questions must be answered by the CPI-M, its senior- most leader Jyoti Basu, and also by the CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc.

The author is a distinguished Socialist ideologue.

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