When West Bengal had gone into civic polls last month, in continuation to their legacy of violence, the cadre of Mamata Banerjee’s party carried out planned attacks on workers and candidates of all opposition parties. Apart from opposition candidates, at least nine journalists had sustained serious injuries after being attacked by the activists of the ruling party for covering the malpractices during the polling.
On February 27, disturbing images of a bleeding BJP worker surfaced and went viral on several platforms of social media. On investigating more, the image was identified to be of BJP worker Anirban Biswas from Baharampur, West Bengal. As per tweets made by several netizens, Anirban had become the latest victim of TMC’s poll-time violence. We reached out to Anirban to understand more about this situation.
“The press, who were supposed to be the fourth pillar of democracy has now shamelessly transformed into the blind Dhritarashtra,” rues Anirban. He detailed how goons had intimidated BJP candidates and blocked them from filing nominations on the last day. They had also pressurized those who had already filed nominations to withdraw their candidature and resorted to vandalism, attacked their houses and set fire to their sources of livelihood. The wives, ageing parents and children of BJP candidates weren’t spared either. He further asserts that this anarchy took place with the full support of the police.
The pressure was coming from the neighbourhood as well. Few local boys would show up and say, “dada, don’t venture out of home except for your own or household work, please! We are from the same neighbourhood; if something happens to you we would be mortified.”
“My election agent resides in a minority-dominant area; he couldn’t venture out even to cast his vote due to ‘friendly’ threats. The day before when he stepped out of the house, he was followed, harassed, verbally abused and threatened. This is why, as a representative of the world’s largest political party, Bharatiya Janata Party, I felt it was my duty to ensure that voters were able to exercise their right to vote democratically, and also to assist the administration in doing so,” shared Anirban with us.
Despite all the threats and advice, he decided on making it to the polling booth. The BJP couldn’t give any agent at the polling booths; neither could any other party other than the Trinamool set up the helpdesk service.
However, the police and administration, Anirban remarks, were hardly neutral at the polling booth. He narrates, “I met an old lady, standing at Mahakali Pathshala School. She was a senior citizen but standing in the general line to cast her vote. I guided her to follow me as senior citizens had priority in voting. Seeing this, a couple of other senior citizens requested me to take them along. Suddenly, the police stopped me and asked what I was doing. I told them they were senior citizens and that they should be allowed to vote on a priority basis. The police quipped why I was taking such an initiative when they didn’t say anything.”
Describing the support of the police in the misrule of TMC, Anirban adds, “I reminded them that it was the duty of the police to assist the senior citizens; instead I was helping them. The police signalled the TMC goons to stop me from helping the senior citizens to vote on a priority basis. The goons pushed me and threatened me to leave the place. I tried to take shelter behind the police officers, but they did not help. The TMC goons chased me into the booth, shoved me, and punched me. I dropped my glasses. I ran to avoid further harassment and somehow managed to get out from the back door of the school… but the TMC goons finally caught me near the Goalpara crossing. They pushed me to the ground and started beating me ruthlessly. Observing the situation and merciless battering perpetrated on me by the TMC goons, some lady voters who were on the way to the poll came to my rescue. They helped me to get up and reach my home.”
The assaulted BJP worker’s account of the harrowing experience he had to go through is an exposure of the pseudo-democracy ruling the border state of Bengal. This reign of anarchy must be brought down; else it will have disastrous consequences for the integrity and credibility of the world’s greatest democracy.