Volume 6, No. 7, July 2005


Kamtapuri People Face Brutal Repression by CPM Govt. of West Bengal

— Rudra

For the last 4 years or more, the CPM-led Government of West Bengal has been pursuing a policy of ruthless state repression against their political opponents like the CPI(Maoist), the Kamtapuris and others. A large number of people have been arrested and tortured. The total number of people arrested for their alleged Maoist connection by the CPM-led government so far is more than 1100 and the number of those arrested for their Kamtapuri connection is nearly 1400. Most of those arrested are poor villagers who find it difficult to make both ends meet, be they settled in south Bengal or in the north.

The government has particularly targeted the erstwhile CPI(M-L) People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre of India for marginalisation and elimination from the political map of West Bengal, as has been made amply clear by Buddhadev Bhattacharya, the chief-cum-home minister in his budget speeches of 2001, 2003 and 2005 as also in speeches made from time to time on various occasions. Buddhadev Bhattacharya, the self-declared champion of human rights, is in reality, the most cunning violator of it. His government has given the widest possible powers to the police and para-military forces to arrest, intimidate and implicate anybody on fake charges if they are in any way associated with or have belief in Maoism or Kamtapuri ideology. In this way, he has encouraged the policy of impunity for oppressive police personnel and arrogantly brushed aside all criticism of his government’s repressive policy. The recent arrests, among others, of Sushil Roy, who happens to be one of the leading members of the CPI(Maoist), and who, is now in his mid sixties and in poor health, having lived a fearless, sacrificial life dedicated to the cause of fundamental social transformation, shows clearly that freedom of political activity and freedom to have and express one’s political opinion is being trampled underfoot by this fascist government.

We would like to give our readers an idea of the extent of state repression that is being perpetrated in north Bengal by the CPM-led government, particularly of the Rajbanshi Kamtapuri people. A team of the Bandi Mukti Committee (BMC), i.e. the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, went to North Bengal to investigate into allegations of state repression on the Kamtapuri people in areas such as Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar in late April this year. The BMC issued a Press Release of its findings on 3-5-2005. We have got a copy of it and reproducing it to let our readers know how, in the name of ‘Marxism’ and ‘democracy’ the Buddhadev-led government, has already imposed a fascist type of repressive rule in West Bengal. The following is the essence of that report:

The repression on the Rajbanshi people is of such an acute nature that they are mortally afraid to even let themselves be known as of the Kamtapuri nationality. This fear-psychosis is very much evident in areas such as Moynaguri, Chikliguri, Kamakshaguri and Kumargram. Once, in late December 2000, when the West Bengal government started ‘Operation Kamtapuri’, about 1000 people were picked up, brutally tortured and thrown into prison and the total number of arrests rose to nearly 1400. The terror has become so widespread that any person having surnames such as ‘Roy’ or ‘Barman’ were branded as ‘terrorists’ or a member of the KLO (Kamtapuri Liberation Organisation). There was a time when no resident of Kumargram was allowed lodging in any hotel in Siliguri due to police directives.

The situation is such that even people connected with the KPP (Kamtapuri People’s Party), which is a parliamentary party, are being driven from pillar to post to evade repression and harassment by the police and the ruling CPM party.

There are at least 12 cases of ‘fake encounters’ leading to deaths, according to Kamtapuri sources. Two of the victims were Haripada Roy (David) and Rohini Barman. The investigation team went to the hamlet of Haripada Roy at village Uttar Bairatiguri, Dhupguri on 22 April and met his family members and talked to them. The body of Haripada was found at Mathabhanga, Beltali. The bullets that caused his death were shot from behind and pierced his body which shows that bullets were fired from close range. The other victim, Rohini Barman has his village hamlet in Dakshin Parokata, P.O. Chikliguri. He died possibly in the month of September 2002 at a place called Hatipota, Moinabari. The BMC team met Rohini’s mother Sarathi Barman and his wife Rebati Barman. Rebati was all tears when she related the incident. A total of 14/15 bullets pierced through his chest and the right side of his face. He was shot from the front.

To suppress political opponents and to terrorise the people the CPM-led govt. has resorted to all sorts of brutal methods which are only comparable to the black days of the S.S.Ray regime of 1970. Even political prisoners are being murdered in cold blood in the prisons. There are three such deaths — Kalidas Roy and Prajit Das in Jalpaiguri Jail and Yasin Kabir (arrested for his alleged connection with SIMI activists) in Malda Jail. The team went to the place of Prajit Das (Natal) at village Changmari, Alipurduar. He was arrested on 20 March 2004 and died on 8 March 2005 in Alipurduar Jail at 11 PM. There were marks of injury on his body.

No human rights organization is being allowed to meet the political prisoners. When the BMC applied for permission to see political prisoners in Siliguri and Jalpaiguri jails, they were told that prior permission from the IG (Prison) was necessary. And the reality is that permission is never given. It appears that the government has much to hide from the public.

The physical tortures perpetrated by the jail authorities on the political prisoners remind one of the brutal state repression of the Siddhartha Ray regime of the 1970s. Very recently, Animesh Chakrabarty and Pradip Chatterjee have been tortured brutally on the direction of the Superintendent of Siliguri Sub-jail. The whole administration has become so de-humanised that they did not at all care to make any arrangement for Bijoy Roy to go home on parole to see the dead body of his father who died on 22-04-05.

Although all these prisoners, with alleged Maoist or Kamtapuri connections, have been charged with the so common ‘offence’ of waging war against the state, none was given the status of political prisoner. This is not only a clear departure from the existing 1992 Act, passed by the government of West Bengal, but also a clear and deliberate violation of it.

As in South Bengal, so also in North Bengal, there are innumerable cases of illegal detention, re-arrest, and ‘badli arrests’ (substitute arrests). Never, at the time of arrest, has the WB police force cared to adhere to the Supreme Court’s 11-point guidelines (vide Justice D.K.Basu versus Government of West Bengal 1996 case). In the absence of Haripada Roy (later killed in a fake encounter by the police and para-military forces) of Uttar Bairatiguri, Dhupguri, his father, Ganapati Roy was forcibly taken to the police station, kept there for 3-4 days without framing any charges and without producing him in the court. It is a case of illegal detention. In the absence of Biswanath Roy of Uttar Madhabdanga, Mainaguri, his father Upeshwar Roy, and mother and uncle were illegally detained in the police station for 3 days and all the members of his family were subjected to humiliation and physical and mental torture. In the absence of Rohini Barman( later killed in a fake encounter by the police) of Dakshin Parokata, Chikliguri, his nephew Dipen Roy was arrested. It was a case of ‘badli arrest’. The sons of the elder brother of Ramani Barman, the elder brother of Rohini, came all the way from Assam to meet them after hearing the news of their uncle’s death. They were picked up from the road and detained illegally. In the absence of Bijoy Barman of Pashchim Nararthali, Kamakshyaguri, two of his brothers, Bimal and Shbhas were arrested. These are cases of ‘badli arrests’. Prajit Das (later killed in Jalpaiguri jail) of village Changmari, Kumargram was at one time re-arrested after being released on bail in one case.

All these instances clearly make a mockery of Buddhadev Bhattacharya’s tall claim that rule of law prevails in West Bengal. It is not the rule of law but the rule of the jungle that prevails in this so-called oasis of democracy called West Bengal. How long will the ruling classes and their political representatives be allowed to continue to do so is a question to be decided by the people?




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