Tuesday, December 31, 2013

West Bengal Left Front Submits Memo to Election Commission

A delegation of the Left Front Committee, West Bengal led by chairman, Biman Basu and accompanied by the CPI(M) leaders in parliament, Sitaram Yechury and Basudev Acharia met the Election Commission of India on December 19, 2013 and submitted the following memorandum.

WE are approaching you to express our grave apprehensions at the situation in the state of West Bengal, which we consider is fast deteriorating, prohibiting the  holding of any free and fair elections. The constitutional mandate to ensure that the Indian electorate exercises its democratic right in a free and fair manner rests with the Election Commission. We are approaching you with a request that you urgently intervene to ensure that the West Bengal electorate is permitted to exercise its democratic choice in a free and fair manner.

We are constrained to bring to your notice the following factors that create such widespread apprehension amongst the people of West Bengal.

There are widespread reports that the leaders and the workers of the ruling party in the state – the All India Trinamool Congress – are engaged in large scale illegal and undemocratic activities aimed at intimidating people from exercising their democratic right. All norms so far considered sacrosanct during election period have been violated during the elections to the panchayats and municipal corporations. Officials of the State Election Commission (SEC), election observers, presiding officers, returning officers, etc., have also been at the butt of such attacks. It may be kindly recalled that SEC had to approach High Court and finally Supreme Court to get the election conducted with adequate security arrangements even though orders of the court were not implemented by the state government in their letter and spirit. 

During the course of the election campaign to the local bodies, instead of SEC, conducted by the state administration, the ruling party in the state in collaboration with sections of the personnel of the general and police administration, has mounted a targeted attack against the workers and activists of opposition parties, particularly the CPI(M) and Left Front workers. Threats and intimidation were widely used to prevent the filing of the nomination, family members of the candidates who managed to file their nominations were kidnapped to force the withdrawal of nominations. There is a large scale deployment of armed motorcycle squads defying SEC and High Court order, threatening and intimidating opposition political workers all across the state. The areas around the polling stations are 'captured' and on the polling day, a large section of the polling personnel were forced to surrender. There are reports of large scale bogus casting of votes as no EVMs were deployed in these elections. The scale of rigging was so widespread that till date, i.e., many months of the polling, the SEC is yet to publish the final figure of votes secured by each candidate in some constituencies. The mockery of democracy has become so brazen that in some instances fresh polls were ordered even after the counting concluded in order to ensure the victory of the ruling party candidates.   (Annexure 1)

To substantiate these points, we are enclosing media reports along with photographs and CD for your perusal. (Annexure 8-67)

Post-elections, the victorious opposition candidates, in particular those belonging to the Left Front, have been murderously threatened to either resign or join the ruling party in order to control the local bodies, where the ruling party did not manage to secure a majority. In the meantime, five elected panchayat members including three office-bearers were killed by the AITC goons.  Further, in Haldia, Halisahar and Arambagh municipalities, covering districts of Purba Medinipur, North 24 Paraganas and Hooghly, the same tactics were adopted.  It is to be noted that the Congress-run municipalities were also captured by the  AITC in the same manner.

In fact the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Alipur Court was threatened and attacked by the ruling party lawyers. (Annexure 2)

Recently on December 8, 2013 a very senior leader of the Left Front, Naren Dey, former minister and leader of the All India Forward Bloc, aged 78 years was mercilessly attacked and seriously injured. He was not even given proper treatment and discharged from the state run hospital and had to be admitted in a private hospital in Kolkata, which issued a medical bulletin, detailing the serious nature of his injuries. (Annexure 3)

There are instances where even the judiciary has not been spared of such attacks. (Annexure 4)

Since the AITC has assumed the reins of the state government in May 2011 and upto November 2013, 142 leaders including two ex-MLAs and activists of the Left Front have been murdered in such attacks. Those grievously injured and hospitalised number 7,433. The incidents of rape and molestation, number 1,865. 46,937 people have been evicted from their normal dwellings. 5,547 houses of Left Front supporters were ransacked, looted and burnt. 2,170 Left Front party and mass organisation’s offices were either destroyed or captured. 302 educational institutions have been attacked and principals, teachers and senior staff were not spared of injuries. More than 85 student’s union offices were captured. 4,237 Left Front activists have been registered under false or fabricated cases. Of these 1,360 are still in judicial custody and the rest are not allowed to visit their own residences, some of them who are bailed out even prohibited to enter their home districts. The total number of those involved in false court cases are 54,938. Extortion of more than Rs 28 crores is so far reported from over 9,529 people. In the rural areas, nearly 3,500 cultivators have not been allowed to cultivate their own land in about 9,223 acres. Under the land reform legislation of the Left Front government, bargadars and patta holders were legally registered. Over 27,000 of them, covering an area of over 9,213 acres have today been forcefully evicted.

Other non-Left opposition parties even the dissidents within the ruling party were not spared from these attacks.  One sitting Congress MLA was brutally attacked.  In one case of a murder of one AITC leader alleged to be abated by local AITC MLA, the Kolkata High Court ordered a CBI enquiry.

Such are the consequences of the atmosphere of terror that has been created by the ruling party in the state of West Bengal.

In Annexure 5 we are submitting a marked map of terrorised and partly terrorised assembly constituencies in the state. We are also submitting the names of the ACs from where the Left Front workers, including common people have been forcibly evicted from their normal residences.

Media persons were attacked brutally on two occasions while they were covering acts of wanton violence.  Two councillors  of Kolkata Municipal Corporation belonging to AITC were arrested - one in the murder of a police personnel and another in the alleged murder of one AITC leader.

We are requesting the ECI to intervene to ensure that normalcy is restored in these areas, so that the electorate can discharge their democratic rights in a free and fair manner during the forthcoming 2014 general election in the country. Knowledgeable sources presume that another all-out attack may occur before ensuing Lok Sabha election as it was done on April 10, 2013 on some fictitious plea.

We are bound to draw your attention to the fact that the state CEO office appears to be functioning under intimidation by the state government and hence unable to discharge its proper role as an independent body. One particular instance will illustrate this general tendency. On August 29, 2013, we had represented the CEO, regarding the extension of the date for the period of claims and objections in 12 municipalities where elections were announced. Upon hearing no response, we sought the intervention of the ECI. Its only upon the issuance of the ECI notification number 23/WB/2013, dated September 18, 2013, wherein you had kindly notified the extension upto September 30, 2013 was such a request accepted. The said ECI notification mentions a letter by the CEO, West Bengal, dated September 16, 2013. Clearly therefore, while the Left Front had petitioned on August 29, the West Bengal CEO responded only after the intervention of the ECI on September 16.

There are several instances of such partisan attitude. For instance, it is only after the ECI notification that the SRER was extended last year to take into account the disruption due to festival holidays.

In Annexure 6, we furnish your letter of April 23, 2013, concerning complaints of errors in the ER with reference to three specific ACs. The CEO did not take any further action in this matter.

Further, there are instances of the state ruling party leaders being present at the video conferences being conducted by the CEO with DM and district electoral officers, which is a clear illegality. One such incident took place on October 29, 2013, where the sabhadhipati of the Bankura zilla parishad was so present.

There are widespread instances of paid news by the ruling party in both the electronic and print media. The projection of the chief minister and the ruling party candidates is brazen as evidenced in the by-election to 159 Bhabanipur AC. On September 12, 2011, the electronic media, “Channel 10”, organised one such programme conducted by Kunal Ghosh, who was rewarded subsequently to become a member of the Rajya Sabha representing the AITC. He is currently arrested and is in police custody as a prime accused in the massive Saradha Chit Fund scam.

On several occasions, the attention of the CEO, West Bengal was drawn to such instances. Instead of taking any action, they simply informed us that they had forwarded our complaints to the ECI. Unfortunately, no action had been taken till date. (Annexure 7)

We are constrained to draw your attention to all these facts, which are but a tip of an iceberg.  We fully appreciate and completely support the efforts being made by the ECI through its campaign seeking 'greater participation for a stronger democracy'. We are delighted to note that this campaign had a positive impact as seen in the unprecedented turnout in the recent elections to the five state assemblies in the country.

If such an effort has to succeed in the state of West Bengal, then your urgent intervention is necessary to ensure that the above mentioned distortions and the sorry state of affairs is immediately corrected and an atmosphere conducive for a free and fair poll is created by instilling the required confidence in the West Bengal electorate that they can exercise their elementary democratic rights without the fear of terror and intimidation.

In the interests of upholding and safeguarding democracy in our country and in the interests of strengthening the vibrancy of our democratic society, we strongly urge you to urgently intervene and discharge your constitutional mandate appropriately to ensure the success of your own slogan, 'greater participation for a stronger democracy'.

(Annexures are not published - Ed)

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Kolkata, 18th December, 2013

The Trinamool Congress Government has been running the State Government in West Bengal since May 2011. At the very outset, the Chief Minister’s strange instruction to the main opposition parties was to paste leucoplast on the mouth to keep mum for the next 10 years. However, during the months followed, what has been aptly revealed is that the  undemocratic highhandedness of the present ruling regime is not targeted only to the political Opposition, but also directed to other sections of the society in the state. None is spared-- from talented girl students of Presidency University to innocent farmers of Junglemahal, not even school teachers, or college/ university professors, even celebrated artists who once  took pro-‘Paribortan’ stand –-- are experiencing the same humiliation in one or another pretext. ‘If you are not with me you are against me’ – the ruling party in West Bengal seems to say.

The State of West Bengal is now a land of government-sponsored carnivals. But such jamborees are failing to suppress the sound of weeping of hungry workers of closed North Bengal tea gardens, increasing problems of hard-pressed transport workers or distress of  hapless families of the  farmers  committing suicide. When asked about the priority of the TMC government  the blunt response from the top is typically insensitive : ‘If we won’t organise festivals should we perform funeral rites”.

The state is now leading the country as per the record of crime against women. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data  reveals that the state  also tops the list of increasing rate of criminal cases in the whole country. Even the judge of the High Court has said that the state is burning. The Government is not paying any heed to the recommendations of statutory bodies like the State Election Commission or the State Human Rights Commission.

Anarchy in Education
What is happening in the field of education in West Bengal is nothing but an ‘improvised’ version of the semi-fascist terror tactics of the days during the 1970’s. The unfortunate practice of mass-copying in public examinations has once relapsed. The State Government has already  imposed  an ordinance was to dismantle the positive developments achieved in higher education during the days of the Left Front government. Now even the Vice- Chancellors in a number of State  Universities were either removed or forced to resign by the TMC government in their own autocratic fashion. The pre-poll cry for de-politicization in education has turned truly into de-democratization drive. The experience of the one-year of the TMC-led Government has shown that the entire education system is under tremendous threat. On the one hand we have TMC miscreants in the campus beating up college professors and principals and student activists of opposition organizations, on the other hand we have the entire Government machinery acting in unison the destroy the democratic education system in the state. In the name of establishing democracy and doing away with party-rule, what the Mamata Banerjee Government has done is to try and capture the education sector by brazen nepotism and hooliganism at any cost.

The democratically elected administrative bodies of the Universities have been dismissed by the ordinance. Even the neutrality of the Government-nominated expert committee members in the fields of higher education has been contested by different stake holders. The TMC activists took part in poll campaigns have been picked up as ‘experts’. The elected Chairmen of District Primary Education Councils were compelled to resign to give way for the known TMC dadas. Known pro-TMC faces are posted to run bodies like West Bengal Council for Primary Education, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education and School Service Commission. The ruling party-sponsored musclemen are nominated by the state government to head the College Governing Bodies.

Educational institutions are prime targets of TMC-sponsored hooligans. Professors, teachers, students, non-teaching members of the staff are openly manhandled. The student organization of the present ruling party is desperate to put pressure on the teachers in schools and colleges to ensure promotion of students unable to qualify in the final examinations. A state of total misrule is prevailing. The CM announced that approval will be given to ten thousand new madrasahs. But in reality the Government has cancelled license of 40 running madrasahs. The scope in technical and vocational education  has also shrunk. The Government has cancelled license of more than 40 vocational training institutes.

Security of women disappearing
The gang rape and killing of a college student in Kamduni village, barely 20 kilometres from Kolkata, is already known across the country. But instead of taking any substantive step against the  culprits, the State Government is bent upon harassing the  protesters. Even the ministers are hurling on filthy languages against the innocent villagers who are ready to bow down to the pressures from the ruling party leaders. In the Park Street rape case, in which Chief Minister had infamously declared the accusation to be “concocted”, the main accused is still at large, more than a year-and-a-half after the crime. The victim is yet to get any  justice,  but the lady police officer concerned in charge of investigation initially had to leave office soon after receiving a “routine” transfer order. The raped woman of Katwa had to give evidence that her husband had passed away 11 years ago.

A TMC MLA, himself a silver screen star passed ugly remarks about a girl  molested in Barasat, the district headquarters in South 24 Parganas. The police officers in Jhargram asked about the character of the lady who wanted to lodge a complaint of molestation. In Kanaidighi village of Kanthi, Purba Medinipur district, a woman attempted suicide by consuming poison after she molested in front of her daughter. But no step was taken to in her favour. A national champion deaf and dumb athlete was raped in Hemtabad, in North Dinajpur district. The main accused here also is a TMC activist.

The leaders of Left women organizations in the state sought appointment of Home Secretary of the state government and the DG of the State Police force four times. But they are not finding any time to meet the women organizations. The state administration though led by the woman CM is reluctant to receive any deputation even to discuss issues related to incidents of gang rape.

The state administration is absolutely incompetent. In terms of population, the state of  West Bengal accounts for 7.5% of India’s population. But the 12.7% of total incidents of atrocities against women took  place in West Bengal. The data reveals that the police do not receive complaint or fail to file chargesheets in most of the cases. Recently, it is found that in 50 such cases, the police has  deliberately conducted wrong investigations to ensure dismissal of the cases in courts. The latest NCRB record reveals that the number of cases of atrocities against women in West Bengal is more than any other state in the country.  The Government is not even  sending proper reports of such cases, though the rate of punishment is much low in comparison with other states.  But to the West Bengal CM, the real cases of atrocities against women are ‘fake’ or ‘cooked up’ stories! The Ministers of the State Government are also continuing to pass  filthy remarks targeting the victims. This only is emboldening the criminals and anti-social elements.

Don’t ask questions …
Shiladitya Chowdhury, a farmer from Belpahari, Paschim Medinipur district, was arrested for asking a simple question about the rising price of fertilizers in a meeting of the Chief Minister. Readily, the angry boss of the state administration identified  Shiladitya as a  ‘Maoist’ and ordered the police force from the stage to arrest the poor fellow. Ms. Tania Bharadwaj, a teen age student, was also termed as a ‘Maoist’ by the Chief Minister in a TV talk show. Prof. Ambikesh Mahapatra of Jadavpur University, was held by the police  only for forwarding an e-mail in good humour.

The terror is so evident
Jiten Nandi, member of Garbeta Zonal Committee of CPI (M) was brutally murdered within 24 hours after the declaration of the results of the last Assembly election. In only eight days, during the period between declaration of election results and the swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet  (13th – 20th May, 2011), eight CPI (M) workers were brutally killed by the TMC hoodlums. The CM told in the brigade rally that one would need to use a binocular to find out incidents of violence. But.  Pradip Tah, former CPI (M) MLA and Kamal Gayen, veteran cultural activist were brutally mudered in Bardhaman in open day light by the armed goons of the ruling party. The persons accused in the murder case are now out of jail. Credit goes to the police! Dilip Sarkar, veteran CPI (M) leader and former MLA, was killed by TMC-sponsored goons in Barnpur before the Panchayat polls. But no one is arrested. In the vast areas of the state the opposition parties are not allowed to hold public meetings or rallies.  TMC-backed goons are extorting money from common people. Unable to pay hefty amount claimed by the local TMC hooligans, many people have committed suicide in fear of  facing the consequences. During the  last two and a half years 140 workers of the parties belonging to the Left Front were murdered. Among them 52 persons belonged to the Minority Communities, 9 of them belonged to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, and 3 of them are women. In total,7387 people were injured in the incidents of attacks by the TMC hooligans. More than 100 women were molested to take political revenge by the ruling party activists. During the period, a total of 700 women were raped. Around 2000 offices of different Left political parties/ mass organizations and trade unions were ransacked and captured. A total of 44937 Left Front activists were ousted from their residences. More than 8000 Left activists, leaders and supporters were implicated in false and fabricated cases.

Cases of Police firing, Lathi charges and false cases
The trigger- happy state police even opened fire on unarmed people during agitations, even on people assembled in social gatherings. Five people including two women and a student of class five died in such cases.  Six  such incidents happened during the period.  But in no case the  Chief Minister criticized such police action. This is only legitimizing the police atrocities.  Two women and a student of class five died in  police firing at Magrahat. The police was given clean chit from the highest authority. The Chief Minister only defended the police force after an innocent woman was killed in police firing  at Bogula in Nadia district. Police opened fire on displaced poor tribal people in Gajitala and Dewanghri of Haroa in South 24 Parganas. The police opened fire on farmers and patta holders without any provocation. Four farmers were injured and bleeding but they were not allowed to transfer to hospitals in time. The armed TMC hoodlums joined the police in  attacking the poor farmers. One person was killed in Asansol, Bardhaman in police firing when they could not control a scuffle during the immersion of idols.

Bahurupi village of Bishoepur in Siuri witnessed police atrocity at its peak as they kicked at the abdomen of a three year old girl child. The police manhandeled women in Nasik village of Bhatar in Bardhaman. The men in uniform kicked at the abdomen of a pregnant woman. The police opened fire and charged tear gas shells indiscriminately  on the villagers during their operation to bring back  a digging machine of a private company at Loba village in Dubrajpur, Birbhum. The Chief Minister appreciated the police action. The CM also openly defended the police firing at Houlia of Tehatta in Nadia killing  an innocent person.

Student leader dies in police custody
The Left student and youth organizations called for civil disobedience to protest the ban on students’ union elections in the state. Sudipta Gupta (23), leader of the SFI, also participated in the protest programme. The police started beating the agitators who were  inside the bus on their way to the Presidency Jail.  Sudipta was pushed out. He was grievously injured but was not spared by the police. Sudipta suffered a serious head injury. In fact he was  mercilessly beaten. His head and face were fractured severely. Sudipta’s comrades rescued him and brought him to the SSKM hospital. He was not even provided with proper treatment. Sudipta succumbed to injuries. The Chief Minister termed the incident as a “petty matter”. The Left Front demanded a judicial enquiry of the custodial death of Sudipto Gupta. But, the TMC Government, as usual, is interested in nothing but hoodwinking the people.

1500 Party offices vandalized within 24 hours by TMC goons
West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra was heckled on 9 April 2013 by the protesters after giving provocation in New Delhi.  The people who were gathered to register their protest against the custodial death of Sudipto Gupta. The top leaders of Left Front condemned the heckling of a minister. But the TMC hooligans in West Bengal under the instruction of their party bosses made it a point and started violent attacks on the workers of the CPI (M) and other Left parties. On  9th and 10th April, 2013, more than 1500 offices of CPI (M) and its mass organizations were vandalized. Even offices of other Left parties were also attacked. In some places even Congress party offices were not also spared. Attacks were unleashed against CPI (M) leaders, several of them were ousted from home. The police as usual were busy in protecting the hooligans. Thus several parts of the state were made “TMC-only Zones” before the ensuing Panchayat polls.

Reign of terror in Panchayat elections and Municipal polls
The Left Front was not allowed to file nominations in more than 6000 seats in the last Panchayat elections. They were brutally attacked almost everywhere during the time of nomination paper filing. Even after that the LF candidates were forced under gun points in some cases  to withdraw nomination papers; family members of the proposed opposition candidates were abducted, beaten brutally. There was no scope to seek security for the Opposition candidates. More than 3000 booths were captured in the five phases of the Panchayat elections. People could not cast their votes freely. The police did nothing to save 25 Left Front activists, including candidates, who were murdered during the Panchayat elections by the TMC goons. Even the election results were manipulated openly in counting stations. The State personnel were just silent spectators. The looting of votes was so severe that the State Election Commission administration has not been able to tally the record of votes till date. This is unprecedented in the history of panchayet elections in the state. The reign of terror continued even after the declaration of results. The TMC goons further threatened and unleashed attack on the elected members of the opposition even inside the government offices during the time of formation of boards. CPI (M) leader Jahangir Alam, who was elected President or Sabhapati of a Panchayat Samiti at Hasnabad in North 24-Parganas, was killed by the TMC miscreants to take control of the board.

Hasmat Sheikh, CPI (M) leader and newly elected Panchayat Samiti member in Farakka of  Murshidabad district, was also brutally killed by the TMC goons. Ranjit Mistri , CPI (M) leader and the newly winning candidate of Narayanpur-I Gram Panchayat in Karimpur-II Block under Nadia district was also murdered to take control of the Gram Panchayat. The Kolkata High Court issued an order to the BDO of Haringhata, Nadia to explain the situation that resulted in restricting forcibly the elected members to form the board freely.

Such cases of hooliganism were repeated in the Municipal polls in Bardhaman, Chakdaha, Panihati and other places.

Democracy is at stake even in Assembly
The TMC Government is not ready to give due  importance to the State Assembly. Previously, when the  Left Front government was at the helm, the State Assembly was in session for not less than 60 days in a year on an average. Now it has come down to 24-25 days per year. One can hardly recall the absence of the Chief Minister during the question –answer session during the time of the  Left Front government. But the present Chief Minister was present only once during  question –answer session. She has given reply to only one question in the assembly during the last two and a half years.

The voice of the opposition is curbed on regular basis. The Left Front MLAs wanted to move an adjourning motion demanding protection for the investors of Saradha chit fund. But it was shocking to find that the Ministers and some of the TMC MLAs retaliated violently. A woman member of CPI(M) and former Minister Deblina Hembram was beaten up mercilessly. Gouranga Chatterjee, CPI (M) MLA, received head injury. What is happening in West Bengal is once again revealed from the fact that a judge in Alipore court had been  “forced” recently by a TMC leader to change the judgment.

The State Government is forcibly enacting laws to centralize power. The democratic rights of the people guaranteed during the Left Front rule are curtailed undemocratically by the present government. This TMC-led Government is introducing laws only for privileged sections of the society. They are snatching power of the common people only to concentrate powers in the hands of the  Ministers and bureaucrats.

Chit fund scam
The name of the Chief Minister and the TMC supremo is now linked with the Saradha chit fund scam which is the biggest such scam in independent India. The money invested by not less than one crore people is now vanished. The chit fund company has evidently grown steadily under the direct patronage of the TMC leaders. Even today the State Government has not attached the property of the chit fund companies. The State Government, instead, are trying to befool the people of the state in the name of so-called enquiries. The Chief Minister has no answer why she is against a CBI probe of the scam under the supervision of the Supreme Court. Why the State Government is not attaching the Saradah properties to pay back investors? They have no answer.

Parade of farmers’ suicide
During last two and a half years of TMC rule, 90 farmers and agricultural laborers have committed suicide facing the unbearable burden of loans. This quite new in West Bengal, never happened during 34 years of Left Front government. The Left Front Government used to collect paddy through cooperatives like BENFED, CONFED and self- help groups. But the new state Government is not following the same method. The farmers are now compelled to sale their crops to the middlemen at a price much lower than the cost of production. Agricultural labourers are also under crisis now. The people in the state are suffering from price hike of essential items including foods. The TMC-led  Government is doing nothing. They are busy only with unleashing state-sponsored terror tactics to suppress popular demands and putting up big advertisements with tall claims and false statistics by wasting a huge public fund.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

CPI (M) Polit Bureau on West Bengal Attacks

New Delhi: October 7 - The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi on October 6, 2013. It has issued the following statement on West Bengal Attacks :

Attacks on the CPI(M) and Left Front cadres and activists are continuing in West Bengal. The Trinamul Congress under the aegis of the state government is responsible for this violence against the opposition. After the results of the panchayat elections, six cadres and members of the CPI(M) have been killed, the latest being the brutal murder of a member of the zonal committee of the party in Bardaman district.

The Polit Bureau demanded that such attacks should be stopped forthwith and the state government must take steps to end this violence against the opposition. The Polit Bureau appealed to all democratic forces in the country to protest against this violence and attacks on democracy.

From India News Network (INN)

‘Move SC for CBI Inquiry into Saradha Chit Fund Scam’ : CPI(M) LEADERS SUBMIT MEMO TO PM

Surjyokanta Mishra, leader of opposition, West Bengal assembly and Sitaram Yechury, leader, CPI(M) Group, Rajya Sabha met the prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh on October 7 and submitted the following memorandum concerning financial fraud by certain financial companies/chit funds in the state of West Bengal. A copy has been sent to union minister of corporate affairs, Sachin Pilot also.

KINDLY refer to our letter of May 9, 2013 regarding the alarming financial irregularities of Saradha Group, the reply letter of June 2, 2013 of Union Minister of State for Finance (Expenditure and Financial Services), and our subsequent letter on July 15, 2013 pointing out inadequacy of action on the part of central government against this financial scam.

This inadequacy has now resulted in a situation where despite the massive fraud by this Saradha Group, with closing down of all its offices and default on repayment of at least 17 lakh depositors, no action has yet been taken on the part of the SEBI and the government of West Bengal to attach the properties of this Saradha Group and for arranging, in a legally appropriate manner, disposal of these  properties for repayment of dues to the depositors. Instead, without having any Constitutional and legal basis and in deviation from the order of the Calcutta High Court (July 26, 2013 page 70), the state government has just allotted and also released a sum of Rs 50 crore from the State budgetary resource as grant to the Inquiry Commission recently, set up by the state government itself, for starting payment to a section of depositors (Memo issued by the Home Department, September 23, 2013).  Providing such grant for compensation instead of disposal of assets of the Saradha Group is again violation of terms of reference (No. 8) of the Inquiry Commission itself (Gazette Notification April 24, 2013).

Under these circumstances, we urge upon you to intervene in this matter so that payment to all depositors is made with adequate promptness, by attaching the properties of Saradha Group in accordance with law and as also directed by the SEBI (April 23, 2013) and not by giving grant through the Commission which is not legal, as mentioned above. This process should start immediately with focus on attachment and disposal of properties, along with punishment for the offending Group.

For completing the entire process, a comprehensive list of properties, including the `benami’ properties, would be essential.  Since this Saradha Group reportedly has properties in several states as well as abroad and since states like Tripura, Odisha and Assam affected by the activities of this Group, have already decided to involve CBI, the government of India should immediately move the Supreme Court, by joining a litigation already being heard in the Apex Court in this matter, in favour of intervention of CBI for investigation under the order as well as supervision of the Supreme Court. It would be appropriate to forge coordination between the efforts of CBI with those of SFIO and ED and also the state agencies, when required.

Of late, there have been reported allegations by one Trinamul Congress (AITC) Member of Parliament  against another AITC MP for having irregular financial relation with this Saradha Group. These are all the more reasons for immediate induction of CBI for inquiry with overall supervision of the Supreme Court for reasons of neutrality.

Similar action should be initiated by the government of India regarding other financial groups/chit funds where frauds have been detected by SEBI or SFIO, with punishment for the offending companies and beginning the process of attachment of properties and disposal in a lawful manner for compensation of the depositors.

Along with the campaign at all levels against the activities of these irregular companies, it is also important for government of India to bring back the attractiveness of small saving schemes and to  take more expeditious steps for spreading banking network in West Bengal and in several other states.

Unabated Killings in West Bengal

Kolkata: IN a gruesome incident, Kartick Mondal, a member of Katwa zonal committee of CPI(M) was brutally killed by TMC goons in his village. Mondal (64) was an extraordinary human being -- retired teacher, a singer and song writer, organiser of Adivasi Lokshilpi Sangha, the organisation of the folk artists and a leader of the peasant movement. He was very close to people.

On the night of 6th October, Mondal returned to his village in Katwa after attending a meeting of the cultural organisation. In a pre-meditated attack, the armed goons were waiting in a bush near Mondal’s house and attacked him savagely. Mondal was killed on the spot. As the villagers rushed in hearing shouts, the assailants fled from the spot.

Police was informed but did not bother to reach the spot for two long hours, though the nearest police outpost was only 4 km away. When the police reached the spot, the villagers demanded that they carry out a house-to-house search as they suspected that the killers were not still able to run away. But the police refused to do so. Even the request to bring sniffer dogs was also denied. Angered, the villagers refused to hand over the body to police till midnight. It was clear that there was complicity between the ruling party murderers and the police.

Thousands of people paid tributes to Kartick Mondal in his last rites the next day. Villagers came out in numbers all along the 25 km road from the Katwa town to the village. People were literally crying . The village women brought flowers from their own home to lay at Mondal’s body. Katwa-2 block observed a spontaneous bandh to protest the murder. The police, who refused to arrest the killers, used force to break the bandh. Seventeen CPI(M) activists were arrested.

A terror regime has been let loose in the district of Burdwan. One after another murder of CPI(M) leaders has taken place in the last 28 months, that included district secretariat member, district committee members and zonal committee members.


Bedbaria, a village at Chapra, Nadia resembled the state of democracy in West Bengal on the afternoon of 06th October. As 60 villagers were evicted from their residence, 10 houses were set on fire after being robbed and Ashadul Seikh (42 years) got brutally killed for the ‘grave mistake’ his brother has committed by participating in the elections of a school guardians’ management committee as a candidate of the progressive democratic guardians.

On the same day when the chief minister was busy in inaugurations of high-budget festive makeshifts (Puja pandals) in the glare of lights and glitters in Kolkata, the residents of Chapra witnessed a spine chilling episode of terror or whatever the CM and her disciples term as ‘democracy’ that has been practiced day by day for the 28 months in this state by them. Bedbaria Higher Secondary School’s Guardians’ Management Committee elections were scheduled to be held on this day and filling up of candidature was done prior to that as per practice. Ashadul Seikh’s brother, Ramjan Sheikh, was one of the candidates despite threats from Trinamool Congress not to contest.

Just after the elections were over, an armed gang attacked the house of Ramjan, who was not present in the house. His brother Asadul was attacked with sharp weapons and was killed on the spot. Theirs and 10 other houses were set on fire, and got burned to the ashes. Ramjan’s daughter and two nieces were burnt and hospitalised. 60 villagers had to flee from the village.

The ordeal did not end there. TMC barred Asadul’s body to be brought to village burial ground and the burial had to be done some 20 km away.  Despite clear allegation and FIR from Asadul’s wife, the police did not arrest any assailants. Instead, Ramjan Sheikh was arrested due to the pressure from the ruling party.


Over to police, directly. The TMC was eager to win control over a School Management Committee at Indapur, Bankura.  The ruling party leaders threatened the villagers not to oppose them.  The agricultural workers of Boga village disagreed to let the ruling party have a clean sweep in the election, so they protested. The consequent result was merciless attack on the village, this time directly led by the police.  They unleashed massive lathicharge on the village labourers, entered in poor peoples’ homes, ransacked and unleashed a reign of terror. Binod Bauri (55 years), an agricultural worker, was beaten to death by the police.  When the villagers went to the police station to lodge a FIR, the police refused to take the complaint saying that Binod died in a heart-attack. The police then rushed to the village with the body of the dead agricultural workers and forced the relatives of the dead to burn the body without post mortem. Bauri had numerous injuries and wounds on his body. The village was practically surrounded by police and villagers were forced to remain silent. However, CPI(M) leaders went to the villages and visited the homes of the poor people. The villagers described the incidents to them.


On 8th October, veteran CPI(M) leader Bharat Mondal was murdered in Kultali village in South 24 Parganas district. He was returning after attending a Party meeting, riding on a motorbike of another Party leader. On the way, they were both attacked by TMC activists. They threw bombs and then fired. Bharat Mondal was attacked by sharp weapons too. He was killed on the spot and Samsuddin Sardar was seriously injured.

Mondal was instrumental in organising the villagers in Kundakhali Godabar where Left Front won the panchayat in the recent elections. Mondal was the key eye-witness in the murder of CPI(M) leader Icha Gayen, who was murdered in August, 2012.  Thousands of people gathered in the night in the village and blocked roads. They also refused to hand over the body to police. Police faced huge protest from the people. A 12-hour bandh was observed in Kultali in protest of the murder. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

‘It helped us understand where we stand today’: Surjya Kanta Mishra

Interview with Surjya Kanta Mishra.
FRONTLINE, Print edition : August 23, 2013

“ULTIMATELY, we could participate only in 70 per cent of the seats properly,” said Surjya Kanta Mishra, Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly and Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in an exclusive interview with Frontline soon after the results of the panchayat elections were out.
Mishra talked about the unfair tactics used by the ruling Trinamool Congress, areas where the Left floundered, and the task that lay ahead in politically reviving the Left after yet another electoral setback. “We have to consolidate the Left and democratic forces and that is our immediate task,” he said. Excerpts:
FRONTLINE: The Left Front’s performance in the panchayat elections has been poor. How do you see it?
Surjya Kanta Mishra: We had said before the elections that our target was to improve our performance in the 2011 Assembly elections, taking into consideration the votes obtained at the zilla parishad level in the panchayat elections. We are yet to receive the full results, and we will be making our analysis on the basis of the data we receive from the district level, as is our usual system.
Everyone knows how the State government was trying to defer the elections or have the elections without adequate security. Though the elections were finally held following the Supreme Court order, the directions of the Supreme Court, the High Court and the State Election Commission were not observed and no security was provided during the filing of nominations.
As a result, we were prevented by force from filing our nominations—not just us, but the entire opposition. Many were forced to withdraw their nominations even after filing. Their houses and families were attacked.
Finally, we were contesting in 86 per cent of the zilla parishad seats, 88 per cent of the panchayat samiti seats and 98 per cent of the gram panchayat seats. On the day of polling over 5,000 booths were captured and the elections were rigged. Ultimately, we could participate properly only in 70 per cent of the seats.
Again, on the day of the counting of votes, the counting agents in places like Bardhaman and Howrah were driven out and all sorts of illegal things took place. It is unprecedented that the Election Commission had to give orders for repolling after counting.
In certain places where we had been declared the winner, recounting was done repeatedly, and ultimately the ballot papers were seized and we were forced to go in for repolling.
Having said all this, I must add that that does not explain all the results. In some areas, peaceful elections were held and we did well, but in some we did not. We did not do well in the Jangalmahal area as we expected. Whether our performance was better than in the 2011 Assembly elections remains to be seen.
FRONTLINE:  In the traditional Left bastions, such as Bardhaman, Hooghly and Pashchim Medinipur, where you were expected to stage a turnaround, you failed. But you did relatively well in unlikely pockets such as the Congress strongholds and in parts of Trinamool areas. How do you explain it?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  The ruling party targeted these areas because they knew we were strong there. It was done in a very planned manner. They saw no need to attack places where we were not so strong. As a result, even in places where we did well in the Assembly elections, we did badly this time.
But it is correct that we fared better in areas where we did not expect much. These were the areas where the attacks on us were not so concentrated.
FRONTLINE:  Why is it that issues like the Saradha scam and the ruling party’s perceived intolerance and high-handedness, which were expected to work against it, did not matter much?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  It is not that we did not raise these issues; we carried out movements against all these issues. But it takes time for such things to take proper shape and alienate the government from the people. Two years and two months is not enough.
When there is a change of government, the people have certain expectations and they like to give it time. They learn from their experience, and this is very important. We want this government to stay for five years so that people can understand wholly the nature of the government, and more people learn more about them.
FRONTLINE:  Do you think any organisational weakness that has crept into the CPI(M) is slowing down the turnaround process?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  Ours is a continuous battle against weaknesses and lapses. Rectification for us is a continuous process. We have admitted that we had weaknesses in three spheres—political, administrative and organisational—when we were analysing the results of the elections of 2009 [Lok Sabha] and 2011 [Assembly]. We will continue our rectification process.
FRONTLINE:  With the Lok Sabha elections coming, what do you think is immediately required to revive the Left politically?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  We have always maintained that it is not simply for the sake of power that we wish to get elected to office. Power is very important in parliamentary democracy, no doubt, but our main objective is to see that we mobilise more and more people to change the correlation of the class forces in favour of the working class people.
What is most important for us to do now is to mobilise the working classes in the urban and rural areas, on the basis of their demands, and put our alternative—the Left alternative, the 10 points that the Left parties have declared in the Delhi convention—in place of the neoliberal policies of the Centre. We have to consolidate the Left and democratic forces, and that is our immediate task.
FRONTLINE:  How relevant is the panchayat election results in foreseeing the Lok Sabha elections?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  I do not think the panchayat results will in that way influence the Lok Sabha elections, or can be used to forecast the Lok Sabha election results. For one thing, when the election is conducted by the Central Election Commission, it is an entirely different matter.
The Central Election Commission is much more powerful than the State Election Commission, and we can expect that the polls will be much fairer than what has taken place this time. At least we will be able to file our nomination and no one will be forcing us to withdraw them. And finally, we will not have the kind of counting we had this time. However, this election was important in that it helped us understand where we stand today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Time to Rise to Save Democracy in West Bengal

By Hannan Mollah

THE Trinamul Congress (TMC) government in West Bengal, led by Ms Mamata Banerjee, has during its two years rule did its best to ensure that democracy is demolished at all levels --- in government, politics, society and culture.

Nor is there any democracy in her party; she is an out and out autocrat of intemperate, intolerant and fascistic nature. She does not allow any minister of her government to take a decision, small or big, without her consent. There is no elected office-bearer in her party at any level. She is the sole authority of her party and runs it as her private limited company.

The same thing is reflected in her governance. She is totally against the opposition parties and never calls them for a meeting. While the Left parties are an anathema to her; even her old partners, the Congress and SUCI, are never consulted. She does not attend the assembly and is not ready to face a question there. To her, the opposition only conspires against her. She or any of her ministers do not call any opposition MLA or MP when they visit a constituency. She never invites an opposition legislator for inauguration of a project in his constituency. She behaved the same way when she was the railway minister. In the last two years, her government never called a meeting of the chairpersons of 14 opposition controlled zilla parishads. Her ministers do not attend any meeting called by a district, subdivision or block level authority if those meetings are to be attended by opposition parties.

This same behaviour was noticed when the TMC was in opposition. Its MLAs were instructed to boycott any government meeting. She refused to attend any meetings even though the then chief minister wrote to her seven times. Can a democracy function in this situation?

As for physical attacks on the opposition, she came to power with the slogan “Badla noy, badal chai” (not revenge but change is needed). But the last two years rule is nothing but a rule of revenge. More than 100 CPI(M) cadres were killed before and another 24 during the panchayat elections. Immediately after she came to power, CPI(M) and other Left parties came under attack. More than 800 offices of these parties, trade unions, kisan, student, youth and women organisations were attacked, burnt, looted, destroyed or captured. On the plea of an incident at Planning Commission office in Delhi, TMC goons attacked and destroyed 1400 plus offices of the CPI(M) and mass organisations. Thousands of its leaders and activists were attacked, and their houses were attacked, destroyed or looted. More than 5,000 of the CPI(M) cadres were driven out of their houses; women were assaulted or raped. Even the aged and children were not spared. Thousands of bargadars whom the Left Front government allotted land and right of cultivation, were evicted from their land.

Another problem is that about 10,000 of cadres were implicated in false cases. While TMC goons attack opposition cadres, the police arrest the victims themselves and implicate them in false, non-bailable cases; the goons freely move and threaten their supporters. Ms Banerjee herself makes provocative speeches against the Left, encouraging the goons to attack the CPI(M). TMC leaders publicly said they would kill the CPI(M) the way one kills a poisonous snake. They instruct their party people not to speak with CPI(M) people, not to go to a tea shop with them, not to attend any marriage or other functions with them and not to establish any marital relations with CPI(M) supporting families. Thus they are destroying social harmony, dividing the common people in villages and towns, creating hatred among them. This may create a permanent cleavage in society and damage the social fabric.

These attacks intensified before and during the panchayat polls. As Ms Banerjee and her party are out to destroy democracy, deny opposition its rights, generate hatred on political lines, damage the social fabric and even instigate communal feelings, they are out to destroy the constitutional institutions and functioning too. While parliamentary democracy cannot function without an opposition, she is not ready to allow the latter to function freely. Opposition parties are not being allowed to hold meetings, not given permission for meetings, and not allotted grounds and parks.

The media are called “the fourth estate” in a democracy. But they are under severe attack. Only such newspapers or TV channels as support Ms Banerjee are allowed to work freely. Only pro-government newspapers are kept in libraries and government offices. Ms Banerjee herself advised people to read the papers or view the TV channels which she prescribes. Newspapers critical to government are being attacked; more than a dozen of journalists, reporters or photographers were attacked and their cameras destroyed. If journalists ask Ms Mamata a difficult question, she immediately dubs them as CPI(M) or Maoist fellows and asks them to leave her press conference. Daily Ganashakti is not subscribed to by a library; she has stopped any advertisements to Ganashakti even though the High Court has asked her to resume it. Even hawkers of newspapers to her dislike were not allowed to go to people, while hundreds of Ganashakti boards were destroyed. Thus the government of West Bengal is trying to gag the opposition opinion and suppress the freedom of media.

Some incidents may be recalled here. Once a professor forwarded on internet a cartoon on Ms Mamata and he was instantly arrested; the case against him is not yet withdrawn. One TMC supporter asked Ms Banerjee in a public meeting about scarcity of fertilisers; she immediately branded him as a Maoist and asked the police to arrest him; the case is not yet withdrawn. In both cases, the National Human Rights Commission flayed the government’s stand and asked for compensation to the sufferers. But the government refused to accept it. One girl asking Ms Mamata a question in a TV show was also branded Maoist and Ms Mamata quit the show. The last two years saw hundreds of such incidents of Ms Banerjee’s intolerance.

Another area of concern is the unprecedented growth in incidents of assault against women in Bengal since Ms Mamata assumed office. In the notorious case of gangrape in Park Street, she immediately said it was a stage managed show. But when the case proved to be true, the inquiring police officer was transferred. After a series of other rape cases, a TMC activist recently raped and killed a college girl in Kamduni village in Barasat, North 24 Paraganas district. But Ms Banerjee visited the place only after ten days of the incident and when some women wanted to talk to her about it, she termed them all as CPI(M) cadres and Maoists. More than a dozen rapes have occurred in Barasat alone. (In that panchayat, the TMC won all the seats uncontested as no opposition candidate was allowed to file nomination.) The National Commission for Women and the National Crime Bureau have reported that West Bengal now ranks highest in number of rapes. While Kolkata was once a safe haven for women, now it is rape capital under Ms Mamata. Of course, to her mind, these are stage managed cases, and a conspiracy to defame her government.

In West Bengal, peasants were in a better position due to land reforms under the Left Front government. They also got government assistance and their crops were purchased by a government agency at proper prices. Not a single peasant committed suicide during the 34 years of Left Front rule. But peasants are in great distress now, and so far 87 have committed suicide. But Ms Mamata says this too is a false propaganda against her government and no farmers committed suicide in her regime.

Constitutional authorities too are under attack. The Human Rights Commission listed dozens of cases of the government violating the human rights of the people. But most of the cases were not heeded to. Ms Mamata has showed total disregard for this commission.

Similarly, the Kolkata High Court made several remarks against the government for violation of the people’s democratic rights. But the government disregarded many court orders. After the Supreme Court ordered deployment of central forces for panchayat elections, her government used them mostly for patrolling on roads and not to protect voters from TMC goons.

The disregard shown to the State Election Commission about the panchayat elections is well known. Her government attacked the commission and the commissioner. Ms Banerjee said the commissioner had got extension under the Left Front rule and was therefore working against the TMC government. All her ministers abused this lady, used filthy languages against her, threatened her and tried to throttle her attempts to conduct elections properly.

Earlier, the Left Front government established a vibrant panchayati raj in West Bengal. It was regarded as an ideal decentralised democratic setup and followed in the whole country through the 73rd constitution amendment. The Left Front government conducted seven panchayat elections, all in time. The poor for the first time got an opportunity to utilise their vote freely, and majority of the elected members were poor people. But Ms Banerjee tried to destroy this decentralised rural democracy. She started to ignore the elected panchayats and started to contact BDOs directly, asking them to work as per her advice. She encouraged the bureaucrats to ignore elected bodies.

Her dillydallying in holding the panchayat elections is ell known. First she announced elections without talking to the election commissioner or revising the voters list which is mandatory. The Left Front then approached the CEC who ordered a revision of electoral rolls; about 25 lakh new voters were enrolled. Then she announced two days polling with only state police being used, whereas the State Election Commission asked for five days polling with use of central forces. The government disregarded it and the EC approached High Court which upheld the latter’s plea. The government then appealed to a double bench of High Court, which took a lot of time. When the EC approached the Supreme Court for an early decision, the latter ordered five-phase election and use of central forces. The Supreme Court also flayed the bad law and order situation in the state. The polling period fell in the month of Ramazan and Ms Mamata tried to postpone election on this plea, but the Supreme Court said the state government was responsible for the delay and for fixing the polling dates in the month of Muslims’ fasting. All her attempt to delay the elections thus failed; they were finally held in five phases.

But Ms Banerjee made the election a farce. She organised a squad of motorcycle borne goons to terrorise the people. Though the High Court ordered her to check this force, she did not pay heed to it and continued the terror activities. As a result, 6000 plus Left candidates could not file nomination papers and TMC ‘won’ those seats uncontested. During polling too, TMC goons terrorised the voters with police help. Central forces were either kept in barracks or used for street patrolling. As a result, there was wide ranging booth capturing and intimidation of voters. Driving many voters away, TMC goons thus captured 4,470 booths. The police worked fully in tandem with them. A large number of Left activists were attacked and 24 killed during the election period. Later, TMC goons captured many of the counting centres, damaged ballot papers and even declared their candidates elected without proper counting.

It was thus that the TMC ‘won’ 14 zilla parishads and a majority of panchayat samitis and gram panchayats. The Left could win in two zilla parishads and the Congress managed two. The final tally shows that out of 48,800 gram panchayat seats, the TMC won 25,077 seats (51 per cent). In spite of all such severe attacks, rigging and capturing, Left Front won 15,593 seats (32 per cent) and the Congress managed 5,506 (11 per cent). Even if the result of is uneven, it is not so bad for the Left in view of such semi-fascist attacks. The TMC victory in fact does not reflect the people’s support.

This means Ms Mamata’s resolve to eliminate the Left from West Bengal got a rebuff; the Left still has substantial support base and strength to fight back for restoration of democracy.

West Bengal has had a long history of democratic student movement, with regular elections to student unions. Schools too are managed by representatives elected by guardians. But the TMC has criminalised a section of students and is attacking the democratic sections of students. Colleges, universities and schools were attacked by goons all over West Bengal and many students were killed. Union elections were announced under strong pressure from students but when the Left oriented organisations won in colleges where free and fair elections took place, elections to the remaining were postponed on the plea of violence in educational institutions. Thus the democratic rights of students were curbed in West Bengal. When the SFI protested against it, one of its leaders, Comrade Sudipta Gupta, was killed in police custody, for which a CBI enquiry was denied.

After observing its growing isolation from the masses, the TMC decided to dispense with all elected bodies in the state. Instead of elected bodies, they are now going in for nominated bodies for management of schools, colleges and cooperative bodies in the state.

When the true face of Mamata government came out gradually, it disillusioned even those intellectuals who had worked hard to bring her to power. Now all such intellectuals, writers, artists, film actors, poets and professors do say that the paribarton (change) they had expected has not come. They are now feeling cheated and openly saying so in their writings, in their TV talks and in public meetings. Minorities too were influenced by her demagogy and false promises. But they too are feeling cheated as, within three months of coming to power, Ms Banerjee announced that she had completed 100 per cent of her promises to the Muslims.

This is thus the experience of many in West Bengal --- that the promised paribarton has not come. Expectations of no section of the people were fulfilled. The people of Singur were assured to get their land back in three months, but nothing has happened after two years. Dozens of railway projects Ms Mamata had promised as railway minister have proved false; not a single project whereof foundation stones were laid was taken up for implementation. Ms Banerjee’s falsehood regarding the state’s development is increasingly coming to the fore. If anybody raises a question about it, brutal force is there to suppress him. Thus this is high time --- not only for the Left but for all the democratic forces --- to rise to the occasion and fight for restoration of democracy in West Bengal.

People's Democracy, August 18 , 2013