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.