PANCHAYAT POLLS IN WEST BENGAL: TMC Unleashes Ruthless Violence on Women

Ishita Mukherjee

WEST Bengal experienced an unprecedented violence against women by Trinamul Congress administration on the eve of panchyat polls in the state. Women belonging to Left parties were physically assaulted when they were going to file the nominations; they were threatened in their homes; wives and daughters of Left leaders were not spared, even if they were not filing nominations. Trinamul Congress regime in the state in alliance with the State Election Commission is not only authoritarian but also flouting all norms of minimal consideration of human rights. Women are being continuously molested and physically attacked by male police in front of the state administration. It is definite that these incidents, which are criminal and state crimes against women, are occurring in connivance with women chief minister of the state, Mamata Banerjee. Silence of the chief minister with respect to these incidents speaks of her approval.

The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has submitted memorandas to Keshari Nath Tripathi, governor of West Bengal demanding immediate steps against the hooliganism by the TMC goons. Candidates from the opposition political parties are not being allowed to file their nomination papers. Candidates, including women are being assaulted, kicked and brutally beaten. Many of the seriously injured are admitted to various hospitals.  AIDWA is organising protests all over the country condemning this brutal attack on the democratic rights of the citizens of West Bengal.

It was been a complete murder of democracy coupled with criminal acts of violence against women in the state. In a state where there is constitutional provision of 50 per cent reservation for women in the three tiers of panchayats, women of opposition, particularly Left organisations  are physically prevented, assaulted, attacked, beaten when they were going to file nominations. Even veteran Left parliamentarians octogenarian Basudeb Acharya, Ramachandra Dom were beaten in bloody assaults and they were hospitalised when they came to protect the women of the state. The attacks were led by TMC with the naked aid of BJP. To mention a few of the incidents of attack, one can have a look at the following. Chaitali Bagdi (SC) zilla parishad candidate was kicked and thrown out when she went to file nomination. She suffered serious abdominal injuries. Mala Bhattacharya, Sumitra Dhara and other AIDWA activists, in Bardhaman, Galsi and other blocks were brutally attacked and molested while they were demonstrating against hooliganism of the TMC in front of SDO and SP who remained mere spectators. Bharati Das, gram panchayat candidate from Tatpura, Alipurduar suffered constant threat from TMC and BJP goons. CPI candidates Madhumita Bhattacharya, zilla parishad candidate was forcibly thrown out of SDO office in Diamond Harbour, South 24 Parganas and brutally beaten by TMC goons. Mira Sarkar, Moumita Sarkar, Gita Ghosh, all gram panchayat candidates and Sudipta Sarkar, panchayat samiti candidate, all from Chakdah, Nadia were attacked and their nomination papers were snatched away by TMC goons. Forward Bloc candidates Nitu Karak , Rina Karak , Jharna Pal and Anima Dalui were brutally assaulted and molested when they went to submit their nomination papers in Arambagh, Hoogli. Nitu Karak’s husband who had accompanied them and who was former MLA from Forward Bloc was beaten up and had his face blackened by TMC goons. RSP candidates Chanchala Ghosh, Lipika Siddhanta, Anupama Das, were threatened and attacked. In Jalpaiguri, Nandarani Roy, zilla parishad candidate,   Putul Mahanta, Indrani Roy Poddar, Dipa Roy, gram panchayat candidates and   Bina Roy Bairagya, panchayat samiti candidate, have been receiving continuous threats and attacks from TMC goons ever since they filed their nominations. In some cases, the candidates were stripped off their saris by hooligans and dragged by their hair in front of police and administration. If this is not reign of terror, then what else is? Doesn’t it expose the hypocrisy of Mamata Banerjee boasting of Kanyasri? But women in the state are indomitable. These incidents could not resist the women from filing nominations. From mother of two months old to seventy three year old woman, women have come out of their homes to file the nomination. This is the reason for the venom unleashed against them.

The attacks surpassed everything on April10, when twenty-nine activists of AIDWA, Nikhil Banga Mahila Sangha and Agragami Mahila Samiti, were arrested in Kolkata and taken away in police vehicles to Lalbazar police station for interrogation. They had earlier taken appointment from Election Commission and the scheduled time of appointment was at noon. They were not allowed to give deputation and were arrested unprovoked. They were denied admission inside the Commission premises and were peacefully sitting in a dharna outside to press their lawful demand for free and fair panchayat elections. The police forces descended upon them and arrested them. AIDWA state secretary Kaninika Bose Ghose, state president Anju Kar along with veteran leaders Rekha Goswami, Minati Ghosh, Swapna Bhattacharya, Atryi Guha, Dolly Ray, Aparna Biswas of Agragami Mahila Samity, Tapati Bhaduri of Nikhilbanga Mahila Samity were all put behind bars. Within custody, male police force were there. Veteran women leaders were also manhandled. Such is the situation of absolute murder of democracy in the state. They were not armed with dangerous weapons nor did they try to break the barricades. They did not endanger the law and order situation. They had merely gone to the state election office to meet the election commissioner. They were asking for information as to why after admitting political chaos in the state which was preventing opposition candidates from filing their nominations in the upcoming panchayat elections, had the election commissioner withdrawn the notice circulated by him extending the time for filing nomination by one day. This arbitrary action is further proof that the state election commission and the administration is completely under the thumb of the ruling TMC and its goons.

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