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Friday, September 17, 2021

PM Modi has failed his workers and supporters in West Bengal

Bengal is burning. The state has always been infamous for political violence, but the scenes that we are witnessing after the assembly election results were announced on Sunday are unprecedented. Because this is wide-spread targeted violence, a pogrom being carried out against Hindus who ‘dared’ to support, work for and campaign for BJP. This is people being punished in the most brutal manner imaginable for exercising their democratic rights. It is a death knell for our much-vaunted liberal democracy.

BJP leadership has utterly failed in protecting its own. They have abandoned their workers to the wolves, and they cannot claim that this pogrom was unexpected. Mamata Banerjee had made her intentions clear on more than one occasion –

As soon as the results were out, the bloodbath began. By Sunday evening, reports started coming of TMC goons attacking BJP offices, supporters shops and homes. One of the first workers to be killed was Abhijit Sarkar, 35, beaten to death, while his mother Madhabi, 62, and brother Biswajit, 40, were also beaten up and their house ransacked. The family said police were present but didn’t stop the attackers. Before lynching Abhijit, the TMC goons also killed two puppies birthed by a stray he had adopted.

At least 9 BJP workers have been killed in the post-poll pogrom till date, and names of 8 victims have been confirmed – Abhijit (Avijit) Sarkar, Haran (Horom) Adhikari, Shova Rani Mondal, Uttam Ghosh, Momik Moitra, Gourab Sarkar, Haradhon Ray, Chandan Roy.

The terror among the families of BJP workers is palpable.

“My husband was the BJP polling agent at Booth No. 26. Since then, TMC goons have been threatening him. On May 2 evening, they came to our house and ransacked every room. They stole cash and ornaments. They threatened that if we didn’t sell our land and leave within a week, they would kill us,” said Shefali Das (32).

Tanu Singh, 29, the wife of BJP supporter Rahul, said TMC men had also barged into their house. “They asked why we supported the BJP and threatened to kill my husband on sight. He hasn’t come home since May 2. I have a 5-year-old daughter, I do not know what will happen to us.”

Hundreds of BJP workers and their families are being forced to flee to neighbouring states to protect themselves. Reports of women workers being raped and molested in Birbhum have also come in, although not surprisingly WB Police has called this ‘fake’.

BJP MLA, MPs have expressed their helplessness to stop this mayhem on twitter. Governor Jagdeep Dhankar summoned senior police and administration officials but is getting the usual bureaucratic run-around. The party president JP Nadda has paid a visit today to Kolkata and is visiting houses of the victims. The party has promised a nation-wide ‘dharna’ today to protest. PM Modi has not uttered a single word in public on these developments.

PM sir, please take a minute and watch this video

The sound of those women and children crying represents the millions of Hindus who feel what Bengal is experiencing today.

Such attacks on Hindus are routine in neighboring Bangladesh. When you chose not to comment on plight of Hindus there, we were told it was to avoid upsetting ties with the Sheikh Hasina government. But what is the excuse for turning a blind eye to this suffering of people who literally put their life on the line for you, your party, and the dream of development, justice, and law & order that you had shown them?

We know the courts, media, academia of our secular Republic don’t care. Courts will open at midnight for last-minute mercy pleas for convicted terrorists or accept urgent same-day hearings for Teesta Setalvad, but an anti-Hindu political pogrom won’t ruffle any feathers. It will be dismissed as fake or over-hyped, while some in Lutyens’ Delhi will actually rub their hands in glee at ‘communal Hindus getting what they deserve’. We know courts waffled over clearing the so-called farmers protest in Delhi to avoid ‘blood on their hands’, but now that an actual bloodbath is taking place and Hindus are being targeted for merely exercising their democratic right to vote, no such grandiose comments or suo motu action will be forthcoming.

We know those people don’t care. But we thought you do.

My mind goes back to a speech you gave over a decade ago, where I remember you said something to the effect, “English-language media (ELM) doesn’t like me, but I will keep working and hopefully one day win them over too.”

Sorry, but you will never win the ELM over. Never.

Even if you were an incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu, you still wouldn’t be able to change the minds of the Hinduphobic elites who control our media. But what you can do is use your position, and the trust people have in you, to speak the truth. Because in the absence of someone powerful speaking the unvarnished truth, people will believe whatever lies are fed to them.

Our enemies were watching as you failed to tackle the anti-CAA Shaheen Bagh sit-in which snowballed into the Delhi riots. Then they watched as ‘farmers’ laid siege to Delhi and anti-nationals rampaged in the capital on Republic Day. Those protests turned out to be a super-spreader of the UK strain of the virus, and are still going on. Now, they are watching Hindus of Bengal being abandoned to a ruthless leader and her Islamist votebank.

By repeatedly refusing to act, don’t you think you are emboldening our/your enemies to up the ante and bring the rest of your second term to a grinding halt? If protests or violence by a vocal minority are allowed to hold the majority to ransom, and there is no corrective action by the state, what does our democracy even mean?

Yes, it is highly probable that invoking Article 356 and putting WB under President’s Rule till the violence is controlled, could be struck down by SC. But you took that step in 2016 in Uttarakhand only for it to be shot down by then Uttarakhand HC Judge KM Joseph. And what stops the center from using Article 355, which empowers the Union to ‘protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance’, like was done several times by the previous UPA govt? It may sound trite, but where there is a will, there is a way.

But first and foremost, Hindus need a leader who shares their pain and their angst. Publicly.


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