February 21, 2012
by Rajesh Datta
After a woman was raped at midnight at Park Street of Kolkata on 5 February 2012, a ‘Blame the Victim’ theory had been going around over some state-sponsored news media. At first, the victim was harassed, offended and ill-treated by the police. Then on Wednesday (16 February, 2012) CM Mamata Banerjee said that the woman who had lodged the rape complaint with Park Street police station had “fabricated the story”. She said, “It was a fabricated story to malign the government.”
We can recall when Anita Dewan, an officer with the UNESCO, was brutally raped and murdered by a gang of CPI(M) goons at Bantala in the year 1990, then West Bengal’s former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu had remarked that such things occur so often.
There was also a denial about the involvement of CPI(M) ruffians in the rape and murder of Tapasi Malik at Singur. After the brutal rape and murder of Tapasi, CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose and his party comrades blamed the victim and stated that “it was just a fabricated case against the CPI(M)”. Tapasi’s charred remains were recovered from the “Tata Nano factory site” in Singur on December 18, 2006. “We knew that both Suhrid Dutta and Debu Malik will get bail in Tapasi Malik murder case as the entire allegation was absolutely wrong. It was just a fabricated case against the CPI(M) duro to malign our image,” Biman Bose told reporters on February, 2009. (Surprisingly, that was quite similar to the statement of Mamata Banerjee on the Park street incident !).
But at that time, the opposition leader and TMC Chief Mamata told that the “CBI has been under pressure for some time now”. Has she forgotten that?
Even after so-called ‘Change’, regrettably Radharani Ari and other victims of Nandigram (allegedly raped and sexually abused) and many raped, injured and molested women have not got justice in Jangal Mahal, the location of the historic tribal movement and women’s resistance against the repression by the police, military and party cadres’ (both “Harmads” and “Bhairavs”).
Last year on 14th October, just one day before Mamata Banerjee made the speech in Jhargram, joint forces and police forces went to the house of Sushen Singha, a resident of village Shushnijobi, area Shimulpal under Belpahari PS to arrest him. At that time Shushen was not at home. The police and the joint forces found his wife Sibani Singha in the house and humiliated and raped her. Unable to bear such indignity, Shibani consumed poison to end her life. She was taken first to Belpahari Block health centre and then admitted to Jhargram hospital in an unconscious state. The Jhargram SP, Gaurav Sharma refused to hand over the medical report to the members of the victim’s family. Thanks to the efforts of the physicians, Shibani could regain her consciousness and on her complaints her family members registered an FIR at the Jhargram SP’s office when the Belpahari PS refused to do so on flimsy grounds.
Do we remember what Mamata Banerjee stated publicly then? She stated that “whenever the policemen entered into the villages for investigation, the charge of rape was leveled against them”. What did it imply? It implied that the state’s police forces can do whatever they like and that they would get protection from her side even if they molest or rape. Had she totally forgotten in the year 1998 she was dragged out of the Writers’ Buildings by the police forces under the previous left front regime for bringing the rape case of Champala Sardar to the fore? (Ref: ‘Sanhati’ website)
Had she failed to recall what happened on 7 January 1993? Mamata Banerjee was then a Union Minister and youth Congress(I) leader in West Bengal. She went to the Writers’ Building with a hearing and speech-impaired girl, who had been raped and was pregnant. Mamata claimed that the rapist was a CPI(M) cadre. She led a 3 hour protest demonstration in front of the Chief Minister ’s chamber. Eventually she was violently thrown out and arrested, some members of the press manhandled, and the Press Corner demolished thereafter. Then Mamata Banerjee vowed she would never return to the Writers’ Building – And she returned only as Chief Minister, 18 years later. The rape victim gave birth to a child brought up in a Home.(Ref: Soma Marik’s note on Facebook)
On 12th January, 2012 Mamata Banerjee gave an award of Rs 500,000, named “Vivek Puroskar” in the name of Vivekananda, to 7 villages in Jangalmahal which according to her have “showed courage to resist the ‘Maoists’ and help the government bring back peace”. This was nothing but a direct attempt by the present government to encourage vigilantism of the “Salwa Judum” variety as these 7 villages are the places where the “Jana Jagaram Mancha” (locally called the Bhairab Bahini) organized by the TMC have established their strongest foothold. This organization that regularly terrorizes villagers by beatings, threats of false arrests and holding off access to developmental schemes, and forces them to act as informers for the security forces, has established itself in Jangalmahal with state patronage over the last 8 months. Interestingly, one of the villages in this list is Radhanagar, where the vigilante force was originally the CPI(M)’s harmad bahini, organized by the local CPI(M) leader Prasanta Das, who is one of the main accused in the Sonamukhi rapes. He is currently absconding. Remarkably, another village on the same list is Netai, where 9 villagers were killed by firing from another set of the same Harmads. It suggests that the TMC government has no problem in awarding both the ‘Harmads’ and the ‘victims of the Harmads’, as long as it dovetails with the states objective of bringing back “peace” to Jangalmahal. And Mamata has declared that there will be more such awards. We should remind ourselves that Salwa Judum also meant “peace hunt”. (Ref- source: Sanhati)
This also reminds us that on Republic Day, Ankit Garg, a Chhattisgarh cadre police officer who is accused of sexually torturing Soni Sori, was awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry.
We can also remember, after Nandigram bloodbath, Lakshman Seth, CPI(M) MP said “We have broken the backbone of the inhabitants of Nandigram. There will be no further resistance there.” (Reported in Dainik Satesman, Kolkata, of April 27, 2008) Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also showed no remorse over Nandigram carnage. On November 10, 2007 after another barbarous slaughter, when CPI(M) “liberated” the villages that were being controlled by the Bhoomi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) in Nandigram, Buddhadeb said in uncharacteristic defiance: “They (BUPC) have been paid back in their own coin.”
On April 5 2009, former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee admitted on the floor of the Assembly that over 60,000 girls have been trafficked out of the state in just four short years (between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008). Out of this, 11,406 are minor girls and 18,681 are children, (i.e. below 10 years). But Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee refused to blame the police for this, and instead praised them for recovering 20,681 girls and children.
And now in spite of being the Chief Minister and the Home Minister of the State, without giving enough time for a thorough police investigation, Mamata Banerjee stated that the Park Street incident was contrived and intended to malign her government. The Minister of State for Transport and Sports, Mr. Madan Mitra, also made offensive public comments about the private lifestyle of the complainant and alleged that the complaint was fabricated to extort money. On 16th February, the present CM’s remark came minutes before police commissioner R K Pachnanda’s press conference where he said that police would “impartially” investigate the case.
Can we ever expect any “Impartial” investigation and “Impartial” judgment from such an atrocious, authoritarian, patriarchal and demonic state?
I am glad finally the victim girl won her battle after her commendable courageous and pertinacious fight for justice and the culprits involved in the Park Street rape case were found out and arrested.
But what about those rape victims and physically assaulted poor women in Jangal Mahal, Nandigram and Singur? Who will raise their voices of protest for protection of their women’s rights and dignity? When will those tortured and sexually abused women get justice? Why ‘Star Ananda’, ‘24 Ghanta’ and other news media who wholeheartedly supported the Anglo-Indian woman and pressurized the police and government to take legal actions are quite silent on rape and violence on poor women in Jangal Mahal? Who will protest against state’s war on people? Who will condemn the ongoing state terrorism in Jangal Mahal? Who will secure lives of those tribal and rural women?
The answer is blowin’ in the wind… …