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Monday, September 27, 2021

Remembering massacres, political killings and rapes in Comrade Jyoti Basu’s communist Bengal

Communists celebrated the 108 birth anniversary of Jyoti Basu with a lot of excitement and exhilaration last week.  Due to the Covid protocols and they had to settle for virtual celebrations but made sure the praises of their favourite comrade reached all directions. Communist newspapers too carried out full-size articles exaggerating his contribution to India’s polity.

However, as most of these newspapers missed mentioning some of the greatest deeds of the Communist icon from Bengal, we decided to list them down for the generations to come.

Sainbari Killings

Jyoti Basu was the Deputy Chief Minister when the brutal twin killing of the Sainbari brothers was orchestrated. In March 1970, the CPI(M) had just overthrown the United Front government comprising CPIM and Bangla Congress. On 16 March 1970, the Sain family members saw flaming arrows being shot at their house, setting the house aflame. The attackers then rushed into the house and killed the sons of the household, Moloy and Pranab and carried out a beheading, as the Islamists do. The brothers were ardent Congress supporters who had allegedly denied joining hands with the communists despite their repeated urges. The mother of the dead sons was forced to eat rice smeared with the blood of her sons. This grotesque act of feeding a mother rice drenched in the blood of her two sons still stands as a mocking irony to CPIM’s famous slogan “Bhat De”, translating to “give us rice”, insinuating “food” is more important than religion, class etc.  

Marichjhapi Genocide 

One of the most brutal genocides on the Hindus after the Muslim and British invaders was carried out by a Bengali Hindu in independent India. Towards the 70s there was a high rise in the migration of “lower caste” Hindus from Bangladesh known as Namashudras. After putting up a massive struggle in the allotted Dandakarnaya, the refugees returned and looked for refuge in West Bengal. Around 40,000 refugees settled in Marichjhapi, an island area where they started fishing and were involved in building schools and hospitals.

But the SC Hindu refugees irked the Jyoti Basu government; they plotted to remove these refugees from his land by first administering an economic blockade and cut the supply of food or water to the island. The water of a tube well was laced with poison and killed 13 people. When the refugees still didn’t leave, on 31 January 1979, the police under communist rule open fired at these refugees. Tens of thousands of SC Hindu refugees, including children, were killed and their women were gang-raped before being killed. The blood of these men, women and children is on the hands of Jyoti Basu.

Ananda Margis Massacre

On 30 April 1982, 16 Ananda Margi monks and one nun were dragged out of taxis at three different locations and set afire in broad daylight. This happened when they were on their way to their headquarters. There were false allegations of child-lifting linked to the Margis which could never be established. The communists also believed that the Ananda Margis were engaged in witchcraft, which again, was never proven. The police showed absolute inaction and no steps were taken to arrest or penalize the perpetrators. Bengal media carried out this news with abject apathy for the victims and their families.

The Anandamargis were always the ideological opponents of the Left-front. This was not the first attack on the saints or followers of this fold by the CPI-M. In 1967, the CPI-M cadres carried out a well-planned attack on Ananda Marga’s Purulia headquarters killing 5 disciples. In 1969, Anand Marga’s Coochbehar congregation was attacked by the communists who always suspected that the Margis had a political agenda beneath the religious veneer. It has been reported that CPI(M) leaders Kanti Ganguly, Sachin Sen, Nirmal Halder, Amal Majumder and Somnath Chatterjee had held a meeting to discuss Ananda Marg’s upcoming facility at Tiljala. The communists were riled up at the expansion of the Margis under their noses. Two months later, this massacre happened. 

The Bantala, Anita Dewan Rape

Decades before India was shattered by the Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi, it was Calcutta, the city of joy, the recorded one of the most brutal rapes in the modern history of the state. Three health officers, Anita Dewan, Deputy District Extension Media Officer, West Bengal Health Department, Uma Ghosh, Senior Officer, West Bengal Health Department, and Renu Ghosh, representative of UNICEF & WHO, New Delhi were returning to Kolkata after inspecting an immunisation program. They had uncovered a massive fraud with UNICEF funds in a few of the CPI(M)-controlled panchayats and had seized some incriminating documents to corroborate the fraud.

While returning from the venue, their car was stopped by 4-5 men near the CPIM Bantala office. Then 10-12 goons approached. The driver was killed and the car was set afire. The women were taken to a nearby paddy field, raped and Dewan was killed while resisting the rape. Their bodies were left naked in the field and were recovered by the police later.

While they had presumed that all the women were dead, two were still alive. The driver’s dead body bore 43 wounds caused by blunt, sharp and heavy weapons. His genitals were mutilated. The lady doctor inspecting Anita Dewan’s body fainted at the brutality of the rape after discovering a metallic torch inside her vagina.  

Jyoti Basu and his ministers were indifferent to this incident and made light of it, infamously saying, the women were mistaken for child-traffickers, and that such mistakes happen. 

This was not the first political rape attributed to the Jyoti Basu administration. In 1989, 10 Adivasis were raped by CPM goons, at Fulbari, Cooch Behar and in 1996, CPI(M) goons raped 6 housewives at Uday Narayanpur, Howrah.

The communists try to paint these huge bright murals of Jyoti Basu with their praises. But if anything, the demented communist was a brutal ruler and remains to be an ugly blot on the polity of the state.

Born on 8 July 1914 in Calcutta’s Harrison road, Jyoti Basu took charge as the Chief Minister of West Bengal on June 27, 1977, and continued to call the shots from the CM’s chair for an uninterrupted 23 years, till his resignation in 2000. 

These 23 years define the unproductive and doomed communist era of West Bengal that saw the shutter come down on the factories rendering people jobless. The state saw an unprecedented rise in political violence that became the second nature of Bengal’s polity in the years to come. Under Jyoti Basu’s rule, the land of the Bhadraloks also witnessed some of the bloodcurdling murders and traumatizing mass massacres that have left the people of the state scarred. 


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