Saturday, June 7, 2014

Defend the Party, Left in West Bengal

By Prakash Karat

THE brutal violence against the CPI(M) and the Left Front in West Bengal is continuing after the Lok Sabha elections. For about fifteen days after the polling ended on May 12, there have been widespread attacks targeting the CPI(M) workers and Left Front supporters in various districts. A report of such attacks is published in this issue of People’s Democracy. In the post-poll violence, so far three CPI(M) workers have been killed, more than a thousand Left Front supporters were injured in the attacks, and several hundreds have been forced to leave their villages and homes by the violence unleashed by the TMC goons.

These are not some sporadic clashes or acts of violence in the aftermath of the elections. These are planned and targeted attacks on the grassroots level party cadres and supporters who stood firmly for the Left Front, worked in the elections and mobilised people to support and vote for Left Front candidates. Even ordinary people who identified and voted for the CPI(M) or the Left Front were targeted in this terror campaign.

What is being witnessed is the planned and diabolic attempt by the Trinamool Congress to eliminate the CPI(M) as an organisation and to suppress the Left Front by repression and violence. In this effort, the police and the administration are being utilised to play a partisan role. Thousands of false cases have been foisted on those attacked while the attackers go free.

This pattern of attacks began in some areas after the panchayat elections in 2008. It assumed statewide proportions after the Lok Sabha elections in 2009. Between then and the assembly elections in May 2011, 388 men and women were killed by the TMC gangs. After an election, the TMC identifies the areas where the CPI(M) and the Left Front has retained mass support and their cadres have worked among the people. They are targeted for further attacks to eliminate the organisation. By this they aim to suppress the organised movement of the workers, peasants and the working people.

In the weeks following the May 2011 assembly elections, 30 Left Front leaders and workers were killed, of these 28 were from the CPI(M) and two from the RSP. Further, 23 women were raped and 508 molested; 3,785 persons were injured and had to be hospitalised; 40,000 people had to leave their homes. The drive to eliminate the CPI(M) and the Left Front saw 758 offices of the party, trade unions and mass organisations captured.

The pattern was repeated after the panchayat elections in July 2013 --- 24 CPI(M) cadres and supporters were killed between June 3 and July 25. In the present bout of violence directed against the CPI(M) and the Left Front after the Lok Sabha elections, the pattern is the same. Party offices are being attacked, damaged and destroyed. Those who dared to stand up to the TMC threats and worked for the Left Front candidates are being punished with physical attacks and even murdered.

Among the three who have died in this round of violence, a 65-year old woman, Bela Dey, got serious injuries trying to protect her two sons who had worked as CPI(M) volunteers in the elections in Nadia district. She later died. Another CPI(M) worker, Kajal Mallick, was beaten to death in Manteswar of Burdwan district. The third killing was of Ashmira Begum. She was a former CPI(M) elected panchayat member who had courageously defied the TMC threats and mobilised people to vote in a village in Ketugram in Burdwan district. She was stabbed to death when the TMC goons attacked her house. With these three deaths, the number of cadres and supporters who were killed since the Assembly elections in May 2011 has reached 157.

Thousands of cadres and supporters like Ashimira Begum had campaigned for the CPI(M) and the Left Front courageously defying the threats and intimidation of the TMC goons. It is these valiant comrades who are being subjected to attack and their means of livelihood being destroyed. Another type of attack is on the livelihood of CPI(M) and Left activists. In some places, they are prevented from going to work in the unorganised sector. In many places, the peasants and agricultural workers are forcibly stopped from working in the fields. In other instances, their shops and establishments have been looted or damaged.

What is being experienced in West Bengal is not only a wholesale attack on democracy but a concerted fascistic attempt to suppress the CPI(M) and the Left Front by systematic violence and terror. The brunt of this violence is borne by the working people who have stood with the party and the Red Flag – the rural poor, agricultural workers, adivasis and women.

The paramount task today is to defend the party and protect its cadres and supporters. The state and central leadership have to urgently take steps in this direction. It is essential to mobilise the people and build resistance against these attacks on democracy. This is not a battle of the CPI(M) and the Left in West Bengal but of the entire party and the Left movement of the country. All the democratic forces in the country must be rallied to express solidarity and support for the struggle against these fascistic attacks.

People’s Democracy, June 01, 2014

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