Talk show panelists are involved in pornography: Mamata Banerjee #Vaw #WTFnews


By PTI | 20 Jun, 2013,
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READ MORE ON » Women | West Bengal | talk shows | Talk show | Rape | Pornography | Mamata Banerjee
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today alleged that panelists of some local tv news channels critical of her were involved in pornography.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today alleged that panelists of some local tv news channels critical of her were involved in pornography.
GALSI (WB): Under attack from opposition and a section of intellectuals over the recent incident of rape and murder of a college student, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjeetoday alleged that panelists of some local tv news channels critical of her were involved inpornography.”Two or three incidents (of rape) have taken place. But every evening this people have salacious discussion disrespecting our mothers and sisters day after day. Some channels which are bankrupt are insulting the people of Bengal,” she alleged, referring to talk-shows on a section of local tv channels.

“They are not doing the right thing. What children did not know, they are getting to know about. Who are being called (to the panel discussion)? Many of them are involved in pornography. They claim to be social workers but are actually working for money. Talk showsare nothing but money shows,” she said.

She promised to file charge sheet against the accused in the Barasat incident within one month seeking death penalty.

Accusing a section of the media of blowing up rape cases, she said, “One or two TV channels under the influence of CPI(M) are projecting them in such a way as if the people are not able to walk on the streets freely.”

“One or two cases had indeed taken place and we do not support them, but that does not mean that everything has turned bad in this state,” she said addressing a panchayat election meeting here.

She claimed that “CPI(M) knows that they will be defeated in the panchayat election and that is why they are constantly making false accusation against us with the help of some tv channels.”

Referring to the NCRB figures showing West Bengal having the highest number of crimes against women, Banerjee said, “It has been prepared without informing the state.”

Unlike in the previous Left Front regime, now FIRs were registered against the crimes against women, she said. “Crimes against women were the regular feature during the Left Front regime. FIRs were not allowed to be filed at that time.”

“At Keshpur in West Midnapur district there was series of crimes against women but police diary (complaints) were not allowed to be lodged during the Left Front rule,” she said.

During her speech, Banerjee also turned her ire against the Centre for seeking huge interest on loans taken by the previous Left Front government.

“I wish people from Bengal to go to Delhi and gherao the Prime Minister demanding to know from him why should the West Bengal government pay interest for huge loans taken by the previous Left Front government,” she said.

 

Press Release – Delhi protests against the arrests of peaceful protesters in Kolkata


Protest outside West Bengal govt’s bhawan, Rajiv Bhawan, New Delhi
Photo courtesy: Bijayalaxmi Nanda

June 14th

To,

The Resident Commissioner

West Bengal Bhavan

NEW DELHI

We, members of the Citizen’s Collective against Sexual Assault, women’s groups, progressive groups and concerned citizens from across the country are outraged at the unwarranted arrest of a peaceful gathering of feminist and human rights activists on June 13, 2013. We strongly condemn these arrests. We strongly uphold people’s democratic right to peaceful and non-violent dissent and protest.

The activists were trying to seek an appointment with the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, in order to hand over a letter of protest against the incidents of gang rape and murder of two young girls in Barasat and Nadia. The CM had earlier refused to meet civil society activists at Writers Buildings. Therefore, on June 13, 2013, members of MAITREE Network (a network of women rights groups in West Bengal) decided to gather outside her residence to seek an appointment. They were not even allowed to enter the street leading to the CM’s residence.

When they wanted to hand over a protest letter to the CM, they were told to hand over the letter to the police instead. They rejected this on the ground that it was the CM who was the elected representative and the head of the government. Without any prior warning to disperse, the totally peaceful gathering, modest in size, was suddenly dragged by the police and bundled into police vans. Thirteen activists were arrested and taken to the Lal Bazar Central lock-up. Surely, activists of women’s organisations are not perceived by the WB State Government as a security risk? Especially when they were there to express their concern about the gang rapes of women and girls in the state.Is that an act that threatens the CM or the Government of WB?

The attitude of the West Bengal government with respect to cases of sexual assault and sexual violence against women has, at best, been dismissive. This is evident in the Chief Minister’s response to the statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). It recorded 30,942 incidents of crime against women in West Bengal in 2012 as against 29,133 the year before. The government’s disclaimer was, “The situation in the state has improved and rape incidents have come down considerably”. Even as the state battles the shame of the Barasat and Nadia rape and murders, Bengal has again topped the country in crimes against women, accounting for 12.67% of such cases across India. Further, as the statistics reveal the state also recorded the third highest number of rapes (escaping the second slot by a whisker) while Kolkata registered the highest number of assaults on the ‘modesty’ of women among all the metro cities in the country.

We, the undersigned, condemn the increasing incidents of sexual assault and atrocities on women and girls in West Bengal. We deplore the rapidly deteriorating law and order situation in the state and how that is severely affecting the safety and mobility of women, especially high school and college-going girls in suburban and rural areas.

Some zones have become particularly unsafe, like the Barasat belt in North 24 Parganas where an undergraduate student–daughter of a day-labourer–was gangraped and killed on 7 June on her way back from college. Women are being regularly harassed, molested and raped in that area and several such incidents have been reported in the local media in the last two years. But the administration refuses to act. As the panchayat elections are drawing near, activists fear an escalation of violence against women in the state.

We also condemn the way in which women rights and human rights defenders have been treated by the Government, in complete opposition to the democratic principles of the country.

We demand:

  1. Immediate action initiated against the police personnel responsible for their arrests.
  2. That the West Bengal government accept the right of all, regardless of political leanings, to protest peacefully and democratically on important issues.
  3. That the Government, judiciary and law enforcing agencies initiate speedy action and arrest the culprits responsible for cases of atrocities against women, including the latest two cases of rape and murder against the young girls in Barasat and Nadia.
  4. That proper investigation and a fair and unbiased trial be fast tracked that would enable victims and their families to access justice and lead culprits towards due punishment.
  5. Further, steps should be taken to end instances of violence against women in the state, in consultation with the women rights’ and human rights’ groups.

——

Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault (CCSA), New Delhi, is a group of individuals and organisations that has come together to protest against the extreme culture of sexual violence against women and girls in Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon. We raise these issues with the public, as well as the administration and the police of Delhi-NCR and work in different ways to stop and prevent sexual harassment against vulnerable groups. CCSA can be contacted at ccsaindia@gmail.com and ccsaindia@ymail.com.

 

Kolkata – ‘Lock-up for protest songs!’ #Vaw


14 Jun 13

A group of women wanting to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday to tell her how unsafe they feel in Bengal was herded into prison vans and put in the Lalbazar lock-up for several hours.

Police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha justified the move, saying the force could not have taken chances with the chief minister’s Z+ security. Some of those arrested for trying to meet Mamata at her Kalighat residence — they were released on bail around 3.30pm — called the police’s concern over Mamata’s security “misplaced”.

Sarmistha Dutta Gupta, who was in the group, tells Sreecheta Das of Metro what had taken her to Harish Chatterjee Street and how disappointed she felt when the police cracked down on a “peaceful rally”.

Being associated with the feminist movement for over 30 years and taking part in innumerable protests and processions, I used to think I was prepared for every kind of resistance. I was mistaken. I had no idea that participating in a peaceful rally, where the only thing that people do is sing protest songs, could land me in a police lock-up.

I reached the Hazra Road-Harish Chatterjee Street crossing around 8am to submit a memorandum to the chief minister regarding the gruesome gang rape and murder at Barasat and the general safety of women in our state. I joined the group because my conscience told me to. While our protest was against what happened in Barasat on June 7, the scope of our demands went beyond that.

Crimes against women have increased in the past one-and-a-half years. What I find more alarming is that more and more girl students are being targeted. Barasat has earned notoriety for different kinds of crimes against women — from men making lewd remarks and gestures at schoolgirls to Friday’s incident, that area has witnessed everything in the past year.

But the administration doesn’t seem to be perturbed. All that we see are a few arrests following every shocking incident. But there is hardly any follow-up, there is barely any effort to make women feel secure.

The administration doesn’t seem interested in reflecting on why such incidents are repeatedly taking place in a particular area. There are several schools, colleges and a university in Barasat, where many students are first-generation learners. We have interacted with students and teachers and found that there is no electricity in many places, let alone street lamps. Local toughs have been employed as watchmen in large plots of land meant for future commercial purposes.

Local girls say they are petrified of returning home after evening tuitions.

I am also deeply disturbed by the fact that people in the administration did not think it necessary to express their concern or anguish regarding any of the incidents.

Whenever we have sought an appointment with the chief minister, we have been turned down. On Monday, my friends from Maitree (an NGO) had gone to Writers’ Buildings to submit a memorandum to Mamata Banerjee. She did not meet them.

On Thursday morning, there were 30 of us, far fewer than the cops already stationed there when we arrived.

Six of our friends were arrested first, but I started walking towards Hazra with the rest. As we marched, we could see the police following us, some on foot and others on bikes. They blocked our way, pointed at the vans and told us to get inside.

When we said it was our right to stand wherever we wanted to, an officer replied: “Oto kotha jani na…cholun (we don’t know all that…get inside).”

They dragged us into the vans. They did not lathicharge us, but they did display brute force. My friend Swapna’s hand swelled up because of the manner in which she was pulled.

We still don’t know what the charges against us are and we can’t understand how singing songs could be construed as disruption of peace.

The trauma that we underwent would make some sense only when the administration realises that they have to come forward and do their bit to make Calcutta — and Bengal — safe for women.

AS TOLD TO SREECHETA DAS

 

#India -13 Women activists from Maitree arrested for protesting in Kolkata #Vaw #WTFnews


Protests outside Mamata‘s house over report that claims Bengal is unsafest for women

Edited by Surabhi Malik (With Inputs from IANS) | Updated: June 13, 2013

Protests outside Mamata's house over report that claims Bengal is unsafest for women

KolkataWomen activists demonstrated outside Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s residence in Kolkata this morning to protest against a spate of rape cases in the state. They wanted to meet Ms Banerjee and submit a memorandum of demands. But an hour into the protests, police dispersed the women activists and arrested 13 of them.

The protesters, led by Maitree which is an umbrella organisation of women activists, also wanted to meet Mamata to seek her response to a report released by the National Bureau of Crime Records which says West Bengal has the maximum number of crimes against women in the country.

Unable to meet Mamata, the activists left an “open letter” for her asking her why she had not spoken about the two recent and brutal rape and murder cases in the state.

The two incidents happened in quick succession and left Kolkata shocked. Last Friday, at Kamdoni village about 25 km from Kolkata, a 20-year-old college girl was brutally raped and murdered by six men. Three days later, a 13-year-old school student met the same fate at Gede in Nadia district.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says Bengal recorded the highest number of crimes against women for the second year in a row in 2012. The state government however contested the data, claiming its disclaimers were not published.

According to NCRB, Bengal recorded 30,942 cases of crime against women in 2012 – of which 2,046 were rapes, 4,168 kidnapping, 593 dowry deaths and 19,865 cases of cruelty by husband or relatives.

But state Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee said rape cases had come down “considerably” in 2012. He attributed the hike in crimes against women to cases registered under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code, related to cruelty towards a woman by her husband or his relatives.

In 2012, West Bengal recorded 2,046 cases of rape – lower only than Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In 2011, the state had recorded 29,133 cases of crime against women, 2,317 of these were rapes.

 

#India – 14-year-old returning from school gang-raped, strangulated to death #Vaw #WTFnews


 

Dailybhaskar.com | Jun 12, 2013,

Nadia (west Bengal): If you think we have learned a lesson from the Delhi-gang rape of a student in moving bus, then think again. Crime against girls has shown no sign of abetting. Now, a 14-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped and strangulated to death while she was returning home from school in Nadia district, police said on Tuesday.

 

According to police, the Class VII student had on Monday taken shelter under a railway shed in Gede area as it was raining. Her neighbour, Bimal Sardar, offered to share his umbrella to walk back home.

 

Police said Sardar accompanied by two other associates took her behind a turmeric bush and gang-raped her. They then strangulated her to death. Her body was recovered by the police on Tuesday morning, the officials said. Locals, who had seen the girl with Sardar, handed him over to the police after beating him up.

 

DSP (HQ) Dibyajyoti Das said, “The accused Bimal is now in police custody. He confessed his fault in the interrogation. He also told the names two of his associates, but they are absconding. Police will arrest them soon”. In a separate case in Nadia’s Shantipur area, a woman’s body buried under the ground was spotted by locals on Tuesday. Police said it is being suspected that the woman was raped and then killed.

 (with inputs from PTI)

 

Story of a refugee grand mother, of identities and displacements #Sundayreading


In times of displacement, do we leave our former selves behind and create new identities? In this moving personal history, Garga Chatterjee profiles his Bengali grandmother whose true self was unmasked only by a tragic stroke .

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/

 

I have crossed the border between the two Bengals multiple times. In February 2013, I took back my maternal uncle Bacchu mama to his ancestral home in East Bengal (now part of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh). He had fled after his matriculation exams, a little before the 1965 war. Then we reached his modest, 2-storey, tin-shed erstwhile home in the Kawnia neighbourhood of Barishal Town. And here this mama of mine began to touch and feel the dusty walls and stairs. He is by far the jolliest person I have known. This was the first time I saw his eyes tear up. The story that follows is of his paternal aunt, or pishi.

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Dida and her husband - mid 1970s
Dida and her husband – mid 1970s
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Having taken an active interest, and in some cases an active role, in anti-displacement agitations of various hues, what rings hollow to my privileged existence is the trauma of such an experience. I know the statistics, the caste break-up of the internally displaced, the pain of being transformed from sharecroppers to urban shack dwellers – raw stories of loss and displacement. The “on-the-face” aspect of the accounts, unfortunately, has a numbing effect. When a populace is numb to the explicit, its sensitivity to things hidden is virtually non-existent. In spite of my association with causes of displacement, in my heart of hearts, I don’t feel I inhabit them. I can empathize but can’t relate. Nobody I have grown up with seemed to have any psychological scar or trauma about displacement – at least none that was carried around, although I grew up around victims of one of the biggest mass displacements of all times. I am talking about the partition of Bengal in 1947.

The narrow path was a metaphor for my dida’s connection to her new world

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Dida or Jyotsna Sen - early 1970s
Dida or Jyotsna Sen – early 1970s
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Growing up in Calcutta in the 1980s, visits to my maternal grandparents’ house were a weekly feature of my life. We lived in a 30-something-strong joint family, firmly rooted in West Bengal, very Ghoti. For Ghotis, the East Bengalis are a people with a culture less sophisticated than their own. In later years, especially post-1947, the term ‘Bangal‘, which used to mean East Bengali, also came to mean refugees, and hence evoked a certain discomfiture in West Bengal, if not outright animosity.

With time, however, social ties were built between certain sections of the two communities. I am a child of mixed heritage – I have a Ghoti father and a Bangal mother.

The people of my mother’s extended family had their displacement stories – not really of trauma, but of a sense of material loss – the money they couldn’t bring with them, the land they had left behind, the travails of some families they knew, etc. Calcutta subsumed much of their former selves. An exemplary figure here is my maternal grandmother, my dida. She was married off to my maternal grandfather, my dadu, who I hear opposed the marriage at that time, if not the match itself (both my parents were teenagers). When she came to Calcutta in tow with her husband, she was still quite young. My mother was born in Calcutta.

I have a Ghoti father and a Bangal mother

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The author and his dida
The author and his dida
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They lived in a rented place near Deshopriya Park. There was an air of dampness about the place. It was connected to the metaled road by a longish, narrow path, gritty and dimly lit, a metaphor for my dida’s connection to her new world, in that connecting to the mainstream required a certain tortuous effort. Inside that house, it was strange and intriguing to me. The lingo was different – they spoke Bangal (a Bengali dialect) with a Barishal twang (Barishal was one of the more pupulous districts of East Bengal) called Barishailya. Dida said chokh(‘eye’) as tsokkhu and amader (‘our’) as amago. I used to pick these up and relate them delightedly to my Ghoti joint family to regale them. Now I don’t think it’s hard to imagine that many Bangals didn’t like the fact that other people found simple pronouncements in their dialect amusing and even comical. (Some comedians have used this aspect in Bengali comedy: I am reminded of black clowns with artificial and heightened mannerisms who regaled white audiences.)

She bought her groceries at a bazaar full of grocers who were refugees from East Bengal

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Dida cooked well and was known for it. But what did she herself want to be known for? My mother related to me how her father was a great lover of letters and sciences. This was somewhat true – sometimes I abhorred going to him because he would not only tell me to do a math problem but also ask me why I did it that way. He tried to get all his children formally educated – a Bangal signature of the time. Markedly different was his attitude towards Dida – I remember numerous instances of “ o tumi bozba na” (‘You wouldn’t understand that’). On her 50th marriage anniversary, her children got together for a celebration. The couple garlanded each other. She looked happy with her self and her world. “ Togo sara amar ar ki aase” (‘What else do I have but you people’) was her pronouncement. Something happened a few years later that made me question the exhaustive nature of her statement.

Things happened in quick succession after that. The brothers and sisters fell out. This turn of events resulted in Dida staying with us. Our joint family had ceased to exist too. By now, I was a medical student. Dida was getting worse due to her diabetes. So I spent time with her. I remember her trying to speak (and failing miserably) our non-Bangal Bengali dialect to my paternal grandmother. She was still trying to fit in, for circumstances demanded that she do. At the time I thought she was extraordinarily fortunate. With my newfound sensitivity towards “identities”, I thought, she must have been very happy to speak Bangal until now. She bought her groceries at a bazaar full of grocers who were themselves refugees from East Bengal. Her husband’s extended family was essentially her social circle and they all chattered away in Bangal. They ate their fish in their own way. In spite of being displaced from East Bengal, she had retained her identity, her “self”. Or so I thought.

She was speaking gibberish – names we didn’t know, places we hadn’t heard of

[box9]She suffered a cerebral stroke not long afterwards. A stroke is tragic as well as fascinating to observe. It cripples and unmasks. The social beings we are, who care about what words to speak to whom, what state of dress or undress to be in where and when, all this complex monument of pretense comes crashing down with a stroke. For one whole day Dida had been in what would medically be termed a “delirium”, characterized by, among other things, a speech that was incoherent to the rest of us. She couldn’t move much and spoke what we heard as gibberish – names we didn’t know, places we hadn’t heard of. To ascertain the stage of cerebral damage, one asks questions like ‘Who are you?’ ‘Where are we?’ ‘What is the date?’ I was alone with her when I asked her these questions. Who are you? “Ami Shonkor Guptor bareer meye.” (‘I am a girl from Shonkor Gupto’s family.’) I repeated my question, and she gave the same answer. She couldn’t tell me her name. Shonkor Gupto wasn’t her father but an ancestor who had built their house in Goila village of Barisal in East Bengal. Later, when she had recovered from the stroke, she remembered nothing of this incident. When I asked her later, she replied “Jyotsna Sen” or “Tore mare ziga” (‘Ask your mother’). ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What’s your name?’ had become one and the same again. She died some time later. It was another stroke that felled her.

Displacement brings trauma with it. And the trauma can be cryptic. It can be hidden. It can be pushed down, sunk deep with the wish that it doesn’t surface. But displacement resurfaces in odd ways. And often an involuntary journey away from home is a journey away from one’s self too. The journey of displacement is hardly linear. It is more like a long arc. In most cases, the arc doesn’t turn back to where it started from. The journey looks unhindered by identities left back. But we can sometimes peer deeper. Nobody called my Dida by the name Jyotsna Sen – she merely signed papers with that name. She had a name by which people called her before her marriage – “Monu”. This name had become hazy after her marriage and the journey to her husband’s house; and it was essentially lost after she migrated to Calcutta. She had been doubly removed from the people, the household, the organic milieu that knew “Monu”. She had three children, four grandchildren, a husband, a new city. Where was she? And when all this was shorn off, what remained was a teenage girl from East Bengal village – a place she hadn’t been in 60 years, maybe the only place where she had been much of herself. Monu of Shankar Gupto’s house.

At this point, I wonder whether she silently bled all through her years in Calcutta. Would she have bled similarly if she had made choices about her own life, or if she had actively participated in the decisions that changed her life’s trajectory? The speculative nature of the inferences I draw from her “unmasking” story is not a hindrance to imagine what could have been. A little looking around might show such stories of long-drawn suppressions all around – suppressions we consider facts of life and take for granted. Who knows what she would have wanted at age 15, or at 22? Where was her voice, her own thing in the whole Calcutta saga that followed? The picture-perfect 50th anniversary clearly didn’t capture who she was. Her husband believed she had had her due – what more does one need, he would have thought. My mother assumed that with the well-intentioned husband that her father was, Dida must have been happy. The identity-politics fired lefty in me had thought she hadn’t been displaced enough, given the continuity of her Bangal milieu! But a part of her lived repressed.

In the microcosms we inhabit, there are stories of displacement, failed rehabilitation and denial of life choices. It is my suspicion that on learning about the Narmada valley displaced, a part of my Dida’s self would have differed vehemently with the Supreme Court judges, who upheld the prerogative of “development” over the costs of displacement.

 

 

A dangerous connivance


Shahbag Protest

 

GARGA CHATTERJEE, The Hindu

It is worrying that West Bengal’s political class remained tactical spectators to the Kolkata rally organised by Muslim groups in support of Bangladeshi war criminals

West Bengal looked to the Shahbag protests in Dhaka with hope. In 1971, a massive relief and solidarity effort was undertaken in West Bengal for the millions trying to escape a veritable genocide. The then leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami in East Bengal and its students wing organised murder and rape squads in collaboration with the Pakistani forces. Their crimes included mass murder, rape as a weapon of war, arson and forced conversions. Post-1975, generals used them to cast an Islamic veneer of legitimacy over their illegal capture of power. Their immunity lasted until the present Bangladesh government restarted the legal proceedings in the War Crimes tribunal. The Shahbag protests demanded maximum punishment for the guilty.

SHOCKING

In West Bengal, a few meetings have happened around Shahbag, mostly expressing support. But, shockingly, the largest was a massive rally held in Kolkata on March 30, explicitly against the Shahbag protests and in support of the war criminals already convicted. Various Muslim groups, including the All Bengal Minority Council, the All Bengal Minority Youth Federation, the Madrassa Students Union, the Muslim Think Tank and the All Bengal Imam Muazzin Association, organised the rally. People arrived in buses from distant districts of Murshidabad and Nadia, as well as from neighbouring districts. Students of madrassas and the new Aliah Madrassa University were conspicuous at the gathering.

The old rallying cry, “Islam is in danger in Bangladesh,” was heard. We heard a similar cry in 1952 during the mother-language movement, in 1954 when Fazlul Haq and Maulana Bhashani challenged the Muslim League, in 1969 when the Awami League made its six demands and during the 1971 liberation struggle — basically during every secular movement for rights and justice. The rally thundered that West Bengal would be “cleansed” of supporters of war crimes trial and the present Prime Minister of Bangladesh. They promised that political forces supporting Shahbag would be “beaten with broom-sticks” if they came asking for Muslim votes. Like Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie, Sheikh Hasina would not be allowed inside Kolkata. They expressed solidarity with the anti-Shahbag “movement” in Bangladesh. This assertion is worrisome, as the anti-Shahbag forces in Bangladesh have initiated a wave of violent attacks on Hindus, Buddhists and secular individuals, and the destruction of Hindu and Buddhist homes, businesses and places of worship. Amnesty International documented attacks on over 40 Hindu temples as of March 6. That number has increased.

This large gathering and its pronouncements have been in the making. A collapse in the Muslim vote was important in the Left Front’s demise. Muslim divines regularly remind the present government of this. The Trinamool Congress wants to ensure a continued slice of this vote. In an unprecedented move, the government handed out monthly stipends to imams and muezzins to build a class of Muslim “community leaders” who eat out of its hand. The debt-ridden, vision-deficient government is unable to solve the problems that are common to the poor. It has wooed a section of the marginalised on the basis of religion by selective handouts. These are excellent as speech-making points masquerading as empathy. This also gives fillip to forces whose trajectories are not under usual political control.

The Left Front’s political fortune stagnated after 2011. It has cynically chosen not to strongly oppose this communal turn. Waiting for the incumbent to falter is its roadmap to power. The damage this is doing to the West Bengal’s political culture is possibly irreparable. The incumbent’s connivance and the opposition’s silence are due to the long-eroded tradition of democratic political contestation through grassroots mobilisation. Both deal with West Bengal’s sizeable minority population primarily via intermediaries, doing away with any pretence of ideology in the transactions.

POLITICS OF BLACKMAIL

Organisations inspired by political Islam have used this disconnect to the hilt to blackmail the government. An emerging bloc of divines, and former and present student leaders have used students and youths as storm troopers at short notice. Sadly, they are unconcerned about life and livelihood issues of Muslims. With assistance from the Left Front regime, they drove out the persecuted humanist writer, Taslima Nasreen. The extent of their clout as blackmailers was evident from the government’s pro-activeness in keeping Salman Rushdie out of Kolkata, after his visit to Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai. This pushing of the envelope fits into a sequence of events that is increasingly stifling the freedom of expression. The double-standards are clear.

On March 21, a group of small magazine publishers, human rights workers, theatre artists and peace activists were disallowed from marching to the Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh to express their support to the war-crimes trial efforts. The police had “orders;” some marchers were detained. A month earlier, the same police provided security cover to an anti-Shahbag march and later to the marchers when they submitted a memorandum to the Deputy High Commission demanding the acquittal of convicted war criminals. Last year, public libraries were directed to stock a sectarian daily even before its first issue was published! The State thinks that it can play this brinksmanship game with finesse. When the political class acts as tactical facilitators or tactical spectators to apologists of one the largest mass-murders ever, the demise of Kolkata as a centre of culture is a natural corollary. A combination of circumstances can cause an uncontrollable unravelling. Bengal’s experience with sectarian politics is distinctly bitter.

The bye-election to Jangipur, a Muslim-majority Lok Sabha constituency, saw the combined vote of the two main parties fall from 95 per cent in 2009 to 78 per cent in 2012. The beneficiaries were the Welfare Party of India, a thinly-veiled front organisation of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, and the Social Democratic Party of India, a similar group. “Tactical pluralism” is their game, a concept quite akin to the tactical defence of Taslima’s freedom of speech by Hindu communal political forces. The rally in support of war criminals has exposed this faux pluralism.

There was another significant beneficiary in the same election — the Bharatiya Janata Party. Communal tension has been rising, with serious disturbances in Deganga and Canning. Sensing a subterranean polarisation, the majoritarian forces see an opportunity. Mouthing banalities about Bengal’s “intrinsically” plural culture is useless. Culture is a living entity, recreated every moment. It is being recreated by the victimisation discourse by fringe groups like Hindu Samhati and in certain religious congregations where unalloyed poison produced by divines like Tarek Monawar Hossain from Bangladesh is played on loud-speakers. Thanks to technology, vitriol produced in a milieu of free-style majoritarian muscle-flexing in Bangladesh reaches West Bengal easily. Hence the popularity of one of the convicted war criminals, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, who in his post-1971 avatar had become a superstar in the Bengali waz-mahfil circuit.

What are the effects of cultural exchange of this kind? The rally is a clue. A defence of Sayedee and the claim that he is innocent, made repeatedly in the rally, are like perpetrating Holocaust-denial.

A day after the anti-Shahbag rally in Kolkata, almost as a divine reminder of starker realities beyond the defence of Islam, nearly 45 lakh unemployed youth, Hindus and Muslims, sat for the primary school teachers’ recruitment examination for 35,000 posts. Clearly, the ‘minority’ employment exchange set up by the incumbents has failed. West Bengal has petitioned the Centre for a relaxation of the minimum qualifications for primary school teachers. The promotion of religious education is hardly the way to empowerment and livelihood generation for the minorities in a State where they have been grossly under-represented in all white-collar services. There are no short-cut solutions.

(Garga Chatterjee is a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

 

 

 

 

Rescued from Mumbai brothels, 18 escape from Bengal shelter #Vaw


Nine were caught trying to catch city-bound Gitanjali Express

Jayatri Nag mirrorfeedback@timesgroup.com

As many as 18 girls, including two minors, ran away from a shelter home in Kolkata on Friday. These women, rescued from various brothels in KamathipuraareaofMumbai,weresenttoWestBengal for rehabilitation. Being Bangladeshi nationals, they were to be deported soon. While nine of them were caught trying to board Mumbaibound Gitanjali Express at Howrah station last night, others are still missing.
On Friday morning at 6 am, security guards attheAllBengalWomen’sUniononEliotRoad first noticed that the girls had escaped through a second-floor window of the home. They immediately informed the Park Street police. Police stations near the Indo-Bangladesh border and the GRP at Sealdah and Howrah stations were also alerted. After being caught, the nine women were produced in the court on Saturday.
“We have informed the sub-divisional police officers (SDPO) of the bordering districts about the matter. They, in turn, have informed the BSF,” said Pallab Kanti Ghosh, joint CP, Crime.
The girls reportedly told police that they escaped because they were being tortured at the rehabilitation home. One Sobha Seth said, “We were not given food. We had no other way but to flee.” Another girl, Sapna Singh, said, “Wewerebeatenupregularlyandtortured.We could not bear it anymore.”
State police, meanwhile rued that hundreds of Bangladeshi women and children trafficked to cities such as Mumbai and Bangalore were sent to West Bengal for rehabilitation just because they spoke Bengali. Last year in December alone, 350 Bangladeshis were sent to Bengal from Mumbai.
“We have repatriated more than 450 women and children to Bangladesh and sent back more than 100 to Mumbai. The Maharashtra police sent them to West Bengal without verifyingtheircitizenship.Thisisnotafairpractice because such a move puts huge pressure on 18 shelter homes run by the West Bengal government and 28 run by NGOs,” said an official of the Women and Child Development Department.

 

#West Bengal : HC orders CBI probe death of 3 women in gurap shelter home #Vaw #Rape #Murder


Blood lust mars India’s Tiananmen moment #Vaw #delhigangrape

Kanchan Chakrabarty : Kolkata, Tue Feb 19 2013,

Dissatisfied with the CID investigation into the deaths of two women of a welfare home in Gurap in Hooghly district, the Calcutta High Court today handed over the probe to the CBI.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi directed the CID to hand over documents related to the case immediately to the central investigating agency.

The order comes as a blow to the Trinamool Congress government — this is the first time during its tenure that the high court has ordered a CBI probe on a state matter.

In July last year, the body of 30-year-old Guria was found buried in the backyard of Rehabilitation Centre for Mentally Ill Persons (Women) run by NGO Dulal Smriti Samsad. Police initially took up the investigation, which was then handed over to the CID. The CID found that two other women had also died in the home earlier. The bodies were found beside the Damodar river in Jamalpur in Burdwan district.

The CID filed a chargesheet against 11 persons in connection with the killing of Guria, but remained silent on the death of the other two women — Ranjana Devi and Sunita Paswan. A PIL was filed by advocate Basabi Roychoudhury in the Calcutta High Court last year demanding a CBI probe and compensation for the family members of the victims.

During the previous hearing about a week ago, the division bench questioned the state’s counsel on the findings of the CID in connection with the death of Ranjana and Sunita and asked the agency to file a report and case diary in court.

Today public prosecutor Manjit Singh placed the CID report, which did not give any details about the probe into the two deaths. After going through the report, the bench questioned Singh about several aspects of the investigation but Singh failed to reply. Singh said the investigating officer was busy dealing with some important case and he was not in Kolkata now.

At this, the division bench pulled up the CID for not giving due importance to the probe and transferred the probe to the CBI.

Advocate Subrata Mukhopadhyay, counsel of the petitioner, said the women had been tortured and raped in the home. Those who had raised their voice had been killed. The few women of the home who had given statements to the CID said that they had been raped there. But the CID did not investigate this properly, Mukhopadhyay said.

On the plea for compensation, the division bench said it would hear the matter after four weeks. Meanwhile it asked the state to explain its stand on compensation.

 

#RIP -Dipankar Chakraborty (1941-2013)


January 29, 2013, Sanhati

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Dipankar Chakraborty, leftist author and activist, and editor of the Bengali political magazine ‘Aneek’, passed away at 10.05 PM on 27th January, at his Teghoria residence in Kolkata following a cardiac arrest. He was one of the founder members of APDR (Association for Protection of Democratic Rights). At the time of death he was one of the Vice Presidents of APDR. Aneek was launched in 1964 and has been published uninterruptedly since; except for the 19 months when Chakraborty was in jail during the Emergency. He had been a dedicated supporter of and participant in peoples’ movements in West Bengal, while not holding back from criticizing what he felt were failings of these movements. His loss would be sorely felt in the movemental and intellectual space in Bengal.

Press Release from Aneek

Mahasveta Devi, Sankhaya Ghosh and others condoled the death of Dipankar Chakroborty, the editor of Left journal ‘ANEEK’.

Dipankar Chakroborty (71), the founder-editor of the independent Left journal, ANEEK, passed away on Sunday night. A cardiac patient, he had suffered respiratory problem last evening and died on the way to hospital. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter and grandchildren.

He was born in Dhaka in 1941 and grew up in Murshidabad after the partition. Educated in Baharampur and Kolkata, Chakroborty taught economics at Krishnanath college at Baharampur. he later settled in Kolkata.

A veteran of the Left movement since the sixties, he began publishing and editing ANEEK since 1964 when ruptures in the CPI on ideo-political issues led to first split and birth of the CPI(M).

In the wake of the Naxalbari uprising three years later that had triggered the second split and birth of the CPI(ML), Chakroborty did not join the new party. But he made ANEEK an independent forum for debates on contemporary communist movement, both national and international.

Under his stewardship, ANEEK has become one of the leading left periodical in Bengal and among the few ‘little magazines’ which have survived five decades against all odds. He himself was an accomplished political commentator and had several books to his credit. Chakroborty was jailed by the S.S Roy government during the Emergency. A life-long defender of human rights, he was also one of the founders of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and its vice-president.

He was always active in the campaigns of release of political prisoners irrespective of the creed of the ruling parties and governments since the seventies. He stood by peoples’ movements and joined protests in their support despite his failng health– from Maruti to Nonadanga.

He was also one of the founders of Peoples’ Books Society, a major publication house and a enthusiast of Little Magazine movement in Bengal.

Noted novelist and activist Mahasveta Devi who knew Chakroborty closely expressed her ‘profound shock’. ” I am deeply grieved. It’s an irreplaceable loss for the human rights movement as well as for me,” the octogenarian writer said. Poet Sankhaya Ghosh, also mourned Chakroborty’s death. ” I feel like losing a near and dear one,” he said.