Monday, June 17, 2013

West Bengal: Criminals’ Own Country

By Debasish Chakraborty

State Records Highest Growth in Crimes in Two Years 

WHATEVER happens to economic growth, West Bengal has achieved the highest growth rate of crime in the whole country. And this too in just two years! This grand success has been recognised by the Crime in India, 2012 report compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) that comes under the union ministry of home affairs. The report has also exposed that the state, under Trinamul regime, ranked first in the matter of crimes against woman for consecutive two years.

The NCRB report showed the incidence of total cognisable crimes in the states and union territories during 2007-2011, the quinquennial average of these five years, and the numbers in 2012. It also calculated the percentage change in 2012 over the said average. It showed that in West Bengal the overall incidence of crimes has increased by a whopping 41.6 per cent over the 2007-11 average. This is the highest increase in the whole country, while the average growth rate in crimes is 11.2 per cent for the country as a whole. Nearest to West Bengal is Assam with 37.6 per cent increase, while in Kerala it is 20.8 per cent. The rate of increase in the corresponding period was 15 per cent in UP, 19.2 per cent in Odisha and 6.2 per cent in Andhra Pradesh. West Bengal experienced an increase of 12.7 per cent over the 2011 figure.

The time period of this unprecedented growth of crime is exactly the same as that of the TMC rule in the state. Significantly, the period of 2007-11 witnessed widespread Maoist violence in three districts of West Bengal, and the anarchy and violence spearheaded by the then opposition during the Singur-Nandigram agitations, resulting in an increase in IPC crimes. But these components were absent in 2011 and 2012. Even then the unparalleled growth rate of crime points to an increasing dominance of criminals and anti-social elements in the society in West Bengal. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has often commented that criminals in West Bengal were now feeling that the government was theirs. The NCRB report has now proved him correct.

West Bengal, once the safest place for women, has turned into a horror place for them in the last two years. That this is not an overstatement has well been proved by the NCRB data. It shows that in 2011 the registered cases of crime against women in the state were 29,133. Then these increased to 30,942 in 2012, making the state Numero Uno again. West Bengal accounted for 12.7 per cent of the total number of crimes against women in India. For Andhra Pradesh the figure is 28,171 and for UP 23,579.

True the incidence of rape in the state dropped to 2,046 in 2012 from 2,363 in 2011. However, cases of kidnapping and abduction increased to 4,168 in 2012 from 3,711 in 2011. “Assault on women with intent to outrage their modesty” has also shown an increase to 3,345 in 2012 from 2,363 in 2011. Insult to modesty accounted for 556 registered cases in 2012.

It should be noted here that the state government has practically stopped sending details to the NCRB for the few months now. But even the truncated version has exposed the kind of rule that the first woman chief minister of West Bengal has created in the state.

The state administration in is no mood to look at the facts. State director general of police, Naparajit Mukherjee, contested the NCRB statistics, saying the rape incidents had come down "considerably." He said this in a media conference just after two consecutive incidents of murder after mass rape took place in North 24 Parganas and Nadia. In these cases, two girl students were killed after rape.

Opposition leader Suryakanta Misra has termed the lack of concern on the part of the state administration on the deteriorating law and order situation as the most serious source of concern. Taking a dig at the DGP, Mishra said: "He is talking like his master's voice." He accused the Mamata Banerjee government of using the police as well as the administration "shamelessly" in its interest. The CPI(M) leader also contested the government's view that recording of crimes against women had increased during its rule. "There is no scope for reporting of crimes at police stations across the state even in case of crimes against women," Mishra commented.

People's Democracy, June 16, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Indian Fascism’s Putrefication : The Art of Political Murder


COUNTERPUNCH, June 10, 2013

The iron has gone deep into the soul of West Bengal’s ruling party, the Trinamul Congress. On the morning of June 9, 2013, as he left his home for his morning walk, the Communist leader Dilip Sarkar, age 65, was shot by four “unidentified miscreants,” as the national news agency (UNI) put it. There is little doubt that the hand of guilt will slowly move toward the ruling party, the Trinamul Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee. The murder took place in Burnpur, an industrial city in Asansol district, which is the home of the IISCO steel plant. Sarkar’s political career began there as he rose amongst the ranks in the trade union to become the head of the Steel Workers’ Union. A member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI-M, Sarkar would represent the interest of workers in West Bengal’s legislature, where he represented the steel workers’ district. His death is a blow to the Left’s resurgence in the area. But it is important to underline that his is the third political murder in the district, after the murder of CPI-M activist and employee at the Lisco steel plant Nirgun Dubey, age 50, in July 2011 in Burnpur, and the murder of CPI-M activist Arpan Mukherjee, age 54, in Burnpur again in May 2012. There is a concerted effort in this belt to wipe out people who have been part of the resurgence of the Left in this area since 2009.

These puncutated killings are not unique, and nor has it been solely a targetted attack on the Left – although these political murders are part of what appears to be a policy to assassinate its ground level leadership. Over the course of the past few years West Bengal has seen the ruling Trinamul Congress Party, feted by the US government, cover up the murder by its cadre and its police forces a student activist, a police officer, and several opposition political figures (including from the Congress Party) as well as seen its leader threaten college professors, doctors and trade unionists with grave language. When videos show her party leaders and cadre directly involved in the public assassinations these men are hastily disassociated from the party, and in some cases, guileless and likely moderately paid substitutes have taken the fall for them. On the street the word is that the supari or payment for some of the killings of the CPI-M leaders could not be more than Rs. 2 lakhs – about $4,000, a measly sum. Political murder is certainly a weapon used by this brand of West Bengali fascism to exocise the Left. But this is not all that is afoot. There is a concerted effort to undermine the apparatus of the State, to intimidate its officialdom into fealty to the Trinamul. That is a policy that has been substantially enacted.


At the other end of India, in Goa, the official party of Indian fascism, the BJP, has anointed its new leader, the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Modi has few counterparts in the world; analogies do not stick to him. He is a master of the media, having trafficed a vision of himself that has been taken without investigation by corporate journalists. Having risen in the BJP’s spear, the RSS, Modi told hold of the party apparatus in Gujarat where he oversaw the deliverance of the state both to the power of corporations and to the lathery scum of Hindu revanchism. It was the latter that happily went into the forests of Gujarat to torment the Christian tribals of the Dangs belt in the late 1990s and it was they who enjoyed the impunity afforded them to conduct the Gujrat pogrom against Muslims in 2002. Modi has tried to soften his image a little for the general public, appearing as the Avatar of Development and Good Governance. The true believers do not need to hear him frothing about the dangers of Muslims; his bonafides are clear from 2002. They have allowed him to recast himself as the man who will take India away from corruption and put down the hammer against all manner of anti-national tendencies (the great code for continuing the quiet war in Kashmir, the Indian North-East and in the lucrative mining districts at the geographical heart of India).

At Goa, the BJP finally gave this Gujarati Caesar the crown; he is to lead the party into the national elections of 2014. Jubiliation can be felt amongst the ranks of the BJP, whose pressure finally moved sections of the cautious national leadership to go with Modi. This cautious leadership rightly knew that the BJP cannot win power in Delhi on its own. It requries a coalition, their NDA, many of whose partners are wary of Modi and his hard-hammer fascism. They would prefer the recondite fascism of the older leaders – A. B. Vajpayee and L. K. Advani, both nasty specimens who emerged out of the far right’s cabinet of curiousities, but nonetheless able to cloak their views behind the illusions of chaste Hindi or an upper class pedigre. Modi has none of that. His is the politics of the lathiar, the Man of the Stick.

The ruling Congress alliance has allowed Modi and his Saffron Shirts to sharpen their sticks. During his anointment in Goa, Modi made light of the government’s development campaign whose slogan is Aapka Haq (Your Rights). It is rather Aapka Shaq, he said, your suspicion of the government. This is of course true. The expanding, but demographically minor, middle-class has certainly been inflamed as one corruption allegation after another has weakened the Congress. There is no doubt that the values of neo-liberalism have not only given licence to big business, but they have spread their wings into every cultural nook – including Cricket, where betting and spot-fixing scandals have tarnished the sport. The national consciousness is not, however, framed only by the suspicion of the government because of corruption. Livelihood is a central problem for the vast majority, but it is rarely the case that an election will be fought on the sociology of starvation. It will rather be fought contituency by contituency, with factors of caste and gender, political tradition and political violence as the main vectors.

In West Bengal, for instance, where the political violence has become truly dangerous, the local self-government polls are on hand. The Trinmul Congress’ district committee president from Birbhum Anubrata Mandal told a party meeting on June 2 that since the process of filing nominations was going to start the next day, his party had to be alert. “Both the CPI-M and the Congress are our enemies,” he said in a video clip that aired on television channels. “Do not allow anybody from the CPI-M or the Congress to file nominations for the panchayat elections.” Elections are not won solely by the fealty of a section of the population to this or that political tendency. They are won, in the world’s largest democracy, by money and force, by the forces of rotting fascism.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Two Years of TMC Rule: An All Round Decline

KOLKATA: TWO years of TMC rule in West Bengal has seen an all round decline of development, thus destroying the remarkable achievements of the Left Front government. Biman Basu, Left Front chairman, said, on the occasion of the two years of Mamata Banerjee government.

Basu said that TMC came to power with a slogan to establish democracy, but shamelessly established the party rule in every sector of the government. The state has already witnessed autocracy, and severe anarchy. Comparing first two years of Left Front with this government, Basu noted that after 1977, wide ranging land reforms were initiated and three tier panchayat elections were held for the first time. Food-deficit West Bengal began turning self sufficient with tremendous impetus in agricultural production. In the last two years, on the contrary, peasant suicides have taken place and agriculture is in deep crisis.

Leader of the opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said, the state had never experienced such high magnitude of scams as it witnessed in the last two years of TMC rule. TMC is running neck to neck with the UPA at the centre on the issues of corruption and misrule, he commented. The prime minister is protecting his law minister and rail minister on the one hand and the chief minister is giving excuses in favour of her MPs and ministers in Saradha chit fund scandal on the other, Mishra said. From the trident lights scam of Kolkata to the highest magnitude of financial corruption, the chief minister has consistently tried to save the accused persons. Saradha group and the state government have looted the people of the state in collaboration, he said.

Misra said, to hide the failure and corruption of their own the state government is also extending attacks on democratic rights. The freedom of speech and expression is also under attack in this regime. The agrarian sector of the state is under unprecedented crisis. The farmers are committing suicide because of non-receipt of the value of their crops. Instead of buying crops from the farmers the government is making arrangements with the rice mill owners. West Bengal used to enjoy the first position in rice production but during last two years the production has deteriorated by eight million tonnes yearly in average. Production of winter (boro) rice has also come down. The government did not show any intention of setting up cold storage in any block. The state government did not renew the insurance scheme for the farmers to protect them from the natural calamities which was in action during the Left Front regime. The state has been lagging behind in the NREGA project. Several social allowances have been discontinued, said Surjya Kanta Mishra.

The state government is only propagating provisions of investment instead of matured investment. According to the data of Directorate of Industries, the last few years of Left Front government attracted yearly investment of three to four thousand crores of rupees. It even reached to nine thousand crore rupees in one year. The amount of investment has drastically reduced during the new regime, said Surjya Kanta Mishra. Due to obvious reason, the state government is presently silent on Singur issue. Nor they are uttering anything about the projects of Infosys, NTPC or Jindal Group, he said. Haldia port was doing well; it was in a profit-earning condition but due to the anarchy of the ruling party that too is running through a bad phase, he added.

The new government has not been able to set up a single new unit for electric current. Additionally the setting up of 200 new sub-stations initiated by the Left Front government has also been discontinued. The new government did not co-operate in the expansion of the National Highways. The non co-operation went to such an extent that the National Highway Authority had to stop the work and leave the state. It is becoming tough to find out contractors to execute the jobs under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana due to financial extortion by the cadres of the ruling party. Nobody knows when the East-West Metro project will be completed in Kolkata, he said. (20th May, 2013)

Peoples Democracy, May 26, 2013