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Sunday, June 4, 2023

TMC’s Koushani Mukherjee claims “mothers-sisters safest in Mamata’s Bengal”; We fact-check

TMC MLA candidate from Krishnanagar constituency, actor turned politician Koushani Mukherjee triggered a massive row after visuals of her threatening a BJP supporter went viral recently. The TMC candidate was captured bullying an ordinary man in her road-show. Her intimidating words, “Ayee.. Are you BJP? Everyone has a mother-sister at home. Remember that while casting your vote,” drew massive flak from all avenues of media and social media.

It was also unpleasantly reminiscent of late TMC leader Tapas Pal’s infamous threat to the supporters of the opposition, “We will put our men in your homes” insinuating rape threats to women in those households.

Facing huge criticism by the people of Bengal, Koushani Mukherjee released a video on social media in self-defence. In her defence, Mukherjee complained that the ‘IT cell of the opposition’ was distorting her statement, and that all she wanted to convey is that people should be mindful of whom they are voting for. She also alleged that women in BJP-governed states can’t get out of their homes after 3 PM, and claimed that mothers and sisters are the safest under the “anchal” (cover) of TMC supremo in West Bengal. Citing the unfortunate Hathras rape incident, the lady politician asserted that such incidents do not take place in West Bengal.

Are women in BJP-rules states locked inside after 3 PM?

Koushani Mukherjee has just embarked on her political journey. Hence, though unacceptable, we overlook her abject lack of knowledge of the socio-political situation of her state and its environs. The intended deception in her claim that women in BJP-ruled states can’t walk out of the house post 3 PM is laughable if not offensive.

Did she mean that during the 5 years of Fadnavis’ rule, women in the financial capital of Bharat were not able to stay out of their homes after 3 PM? The state not only provides livelihood to innumerable women in the entertainment industry and media but is also the hub of corporates in the financial sector that operates round the clock and boasts a massive female workforce.

BJP ruled Bengaluru, Noida, Ahmedabad, and Gurugram have provided jobs to Bengali women who left CPM and TMC ruled West Bengal after those governments failed to provide jobs in decades of their rule. These industrious Bengali women are working in a 24*7 environment in BJP-governed cities. The earliest they reach home is 7 PM. And then some work in US projects and stay outside all night.

Understandably, a small-time actress in the regional film industry with a handful of projects under her belt wouldn’t know this vast world thriving far from the periphery of the worn-out Tollygunj studio. Bharat’s most popular tourist destination, Goa too is a BJP-ruled state. Is the TMC politician oblivious to the culture of Goa’s nightlife and the participation of women folk in the tourism industry there?

How safe are mother and sisters under Mamata’s “aanchal”?

“Mothers and sisters in Bengal are secure under Mamata didi’s aanchal.” Straight out of a low-budget Bengali movie, the dialogue of the politician-in-the-making was both tacky and cringe for a bohiragoto, “an outsider”. For those who are local to West Bengal and are aware of its politics, it’s a cruel sinful lie.

From the times of Noakhali riots, through 1971, till now, Bengal’s soil has witnessed numerous atrocities on its women. However, since Mamata Banerjee took charge as the state Chief Minister in 2011, we will focus on the state of women in West Bengal under Mamata Banerjee.

Much before the infamous Nirbhaya rape, the city of joy suffered the heinous gang rape of 37-year-old Suzette Jordan in one of its busiest spots, Park Street. The newly-elected Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shocked her voters by calling the rape survivor a ‘liar’, while another female leader of the party, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar came close to calling her a prostitute, provoking national outrage.

The accused in the gang-rape were Nasir Khan, Ruman Khan and Sumit Bajaj who were taken in custody. The other two accused were Mohommad Ali and Kader Khan who are since absconding. Kader Khan was the then-boyfriend of TMC MP Nusrat Jahan and it is alleged that the actress had helped Khan abscond from the area.

In June 2013, a 20-year-old college student Shipra Ghosh was abducted on her way home, taken inside a farm and gang-raped by 8 men named Ansar Ali, Saiful Ali, Aminoor Ali, Bhutto Molla, Enamul Molla, Amin Ali, Gopal Naskar, and Bholanath Naskar. They stuffed her sanitary pad in her mouth to stop her from screaming, tore her legs apart till her navel, slit her throat and dumped her body in a field. When this blood-curdling crime took place in Kamduni, just 20 miles away from Kolkata, the time was 2:30 PM. That is 30 minutes earlier than the curfew time TMC leader Koushani Mukherjee proclaimed women in BJP-ruled states have to follow. Three of the accused were sentenced to death and three to life imprisonment.

In October 2013, a 16-year-old daughter of a taxi driver was gang-raped twice in two days in Madhyamgram: once after a man lured her out of home and later in a moving taxi after she lodged a police complaint. Associates of the accused allegedly set her on fire and she died on 31 Dec 2013.

In February 2014, a 24-year-old physically challenged woman was abducted by her neighbours Sheikh Nasir and Sheikh Kalam and allegedly gang-raped her in an isolated house. The same month, TMC member Barun Makhan was arrested in yet another case of gang rape in Amta.

In 2012, a 35-year-old Hindu widow travelling with her 11-year-old daughter, was dragged out of the Katwa-Ahmedpur local at gunpoint and gang-raped by 8 Muslim goons (Farid Seikh, Kalam Seikh and 6 others) at a deserted place near the tracks. Two of the prime accused, who were local TMC leaders, died in a mysterious road accident. The other accused in this case, which was dubbed ‘sajano ghatona’ (concocted incident)” by CM Mamata Banerjee, were acquitted by fast-track court judge Kazi Abul Hasseon on November 27 2015 for ‘lack of evidence’.

These are just a fraction of the uncountable horrid instances of rapes in the state which had seen a steep rise within months of Mamata Banerjee’s party coming to power. With the woman helming the dispensation dismissing rapes as minor incidents, culprits had spread across all corners of the state with absolute impunity.

Brushing off responsibility from her party goons, Mamata Banerjee went on record to blame rapes on the ‘free interaction of men and women’. When things started to get out of hands, the female supremo came up with peculiar rape compensation, awarding victims/kins 10,000 to 2 lacs depending on the extent of ‘damage due to rape’, because the assurance of safety and delivery of justice was too difficult to be promised.

These had become regular incidents in the state. But in 2015, the country was shaken by the news of a barbaric gang-rape on a 71-year-old nun by 8 men including Mukul Alam (28) and Md Majid (29) who were later identified as Bangladeshi infiltrators.

The situation in the state has only changed for the worse in the following years; safety and justice being far from achievable. Qualified women choose to secure high-paying jobs in other states – like the BJP ruled ones listed above – to escape the constant perils in their home state.

But can we expect any better where goons of the ruling dispensation pound on an octogenarian mother causing her death and a 24-year-old woman is abducted, raped, tied up and thrown in a ditch just a stone’s throw away from where the Chief Minister is lodging, awaiting an electorate victory – all because one’s son and another’s husband was a BJP supporter?

Actress-turned-politician Kousambi Mukherjee has just dipped her toes in the politically charged waters of the state. She must learn that the educated and informed people of West Bengal have no patience for her poorly written and shakily delivered filmy dialogues.

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