West Bengal: Politics of violence

Print edition : February 08, 2013

Leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra at a rally in Kolkata on January 8 to protest against the attack on CPI (M) leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

THE brutal attack on Abdur Rezzak Mollah, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers, is evidence that the politics of violence in West Bengal, which has been on the ascendance since the Trinamool Congress came to power in 2011, is showing no signs of abating.

Mollah, a Minister in the previous CPI(M)-led Left Front government and a nine-time MLA, was attacked when he went to the Bhangar area in South 24 Parganas district after receiving news of a local CPI(M) office being set on fire. The attack was allegedly led by the local Trinamool heavyweight, Arabul Islam, and his followers, who were holding a public meeting in the vicinity. The assailants continued to rain blows on the septuagenarian Communist leader even after he collapsed. His car was vandalised.

The Trinamool leadership made light of the incident, with State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim claiming that Mollah had got himself admitted to a private hospital merely “to get some rest in a beautiful house”. However, according to the hospital authorities, Mollah required stitches for facial injuries and even suffered a hairline crack in the spinal region.

The attack drew sharp criticism not only from a cross section of the political parties in the State, but also from a sizable section of Trinamool’s urban support base. Just two days after the attack, the Bhangar region was again on the boil when vehicles carrying CPI(M) supporters to a protest rally in Kolkata were set ablaze allegedly by Trinamool supporters. In the clash that followed, at least five people were seriously injured. Governor M.K. Narayanan described it as “goondaism”. This led to a war of words between him and ruling party leaders.

“With the panchayat elections approaching, attacks against our supporters and workers have been increasing. The State government, instead of trying to stop them, appears to be hand-in-glove with the culprits. None of the accused has been arrested,” Leader of the Opposition and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Surya Kanta Mishra told Frontline. According to the CPI(M), 85 of its activists have been killed and 5,743 injured and hospitalised since May 2011.

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay

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