Referring to the reactions of the government of West Bengal to demands of public causes and justice under the leadership of Ms. Mamata Banerjee, as paranoid, would be in fact an understatement. The state government led by the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) that was elected to power – reflecting the people’s wish for change, from the three-decade-long Communist rule of the state, also alleged to be a hapless misrule of the state – since May 2011 has hardly done anything to change the adverse public perception of the state government, that it is corrupt, inept and is run by politicians who are worse than street thugs.
The reactions during the past 11 months by the Chief Minister of the state to justice issues in West Bengal have been mostly panic reactions of a deeply insecure person, to say the least. In fact these responses could be viewed as more of an insult to the people that elected the government to power as well as to the administration that the Chief Minister is expected to lead. The latest of this despicable state of affairs is the assault upon victims of forced eviction and the human rights defenders who are supporting them which happened today in the streets of Kolkata.
It is reported that the Minister for Transport, Mr. Madan Mitra, led a team of TMC-sponsored thugs into a protest rally organised by the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights and assaulted persons, including human rights defenders and the victims of eviction. The families are victims who lost their houses, belongings and livelihood to hurricane Aila and those who were evicted from Nadigram after the violence there. This however was not the first occasion where the victims were assaulted. The details of the events are globally reported as AHRC-UAC-058-2011.
The incident reportedly happened at about 12 pm. Activists from the APDR had assembled at Hazra crossing for protesting against the forced eviction of an estimated 300 families from Nonadanga on 30 March. They were also protesting the illegal arrest and detention of seven activists on 8 April. The seven detainees were supposedly being produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate – Alipur Court from police remand.
It is reported that the minister, let his cadres attack the people, including Ms. Rangta Munshi, Advocate and Assistant Secretary, APDR, Mr. Chandan Pramanik, Mr. Priyabrata Bannerjee, Mr. Prabir Das, Mr. Subhadip Bera and Mr. Sourya Bannerjee. All this happened after the minister ordered the city police to standby and let his cadres ‘do the job’. The Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha reports that several other persons are injured in the incident. The details of today’s incident are available at http://sanhati.com/articles/4775/. An online petition calling for immediate intervention is available here.
That it happened in the streets of Kolkata, in broad daylight, where a minister assaulted and insulted the victims and persons trying to help them, should bring down a government and make those running the government accountable. But that could be the case where the rule of law is respected or at the minimum, where the government is run by persons who are intellectually mature and fit. That a minister in office could conceive doing such a blatant act should throw some light into the state of affairs within the Writer’s Building and also perhaps the party leader’s command within the party. It also reflects the choices the party leadership has made in assigning governance responsibilities and further the impunity political thugs continue to enjoy in the state.
What has happened today is the blatant, open and shameless subversion of justice and of the civilian freedom to protest against injustice. Sadly this has been the political culture of the state for the past several years and the TMC appears to be taking it to a further level of aggression. The reaction of the Chief Minister in the Park Street Rape case is one more example of this aggressive behaviour fuelled by internal insecurity and instability. The question however is how long should the state and its people suffer this.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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