West Bengal – KNS Statement condemning the detention and harassment of political activists in Belghoria

July 26, 2013


We condemn the state terror deployed through the detention and harassment of KNS activist and Central Executive Committee member Comrade Himadri Sekhar Bhattacharya and political activist and film-maker Comrade Mrinal Kanti Jana by the West Bengal State Police at 9.30 pm on 22nd July 2013 from Belghoria Railway station, Kolkata. This was purportedly done for ‘investigation purposes’ on charges of being part of ‘terrorist activities’ in the area. However, the Police shamelessly told one Bengali news daily ‘Ei Samay’ that they were detained for drunkenness.

The local police inspector, DCP and ACP of Barrackpore, and a team from IB, interrogated them in three phases. The police refused to reveal the names of those from whom the allegations had come. They also refused to hand over the activists to the local people and activists from various mass and democratic organizations who stood outside the Belghoria Police Station demanding their immediate release. It was only due to the continued pressure from the vigil outside the police station by the local masses from the moment of their detention that the police was forced to release them late at night and drop them in front of their home. No charges has been pressed against either of them as of now. The police informed that there were 8 such people on whose names such allegations have come.

However it is clear that this follows from directives by the West Bengal State Sports Minister and Trinamool Congress member, Madan Mitra, who had only nine days ago, declared the formation of a ‘Sontras Birodhi Moncho’ (Anti-Terrorist Platform) to fight the supposed ‘terrorist activities’ in Belghoria, after declaring that the area has become a ‘Maoist den’. This declaration had come as a reaction to the huge mass rally, with the initiative and participation of Com Himadri, reacting to the rising instances of sexual and gendered violence in the State. The Kamduni rape case had rightly made the people of the entire state indignant on the issue of rape and patriarchal violence, and this had spilled over in to a mass rally of over 20,000 people at the call of some intellectuals in College Square, Kolkata on 21st June. The West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee had reacted to this mass anger and resentment against the government calling it a Congress-CPI(M)-Maoist affair. Activists from many organizations including KNS president Com. Parag who had participated in the rally were continually harassed by pro-TMC chit-fund-funded media houses, like ‘Channel 10’ and ‘365 Din’ as a supposed terror operative.

Himadri Bhattacharya is a well known active social worker and has been politically active over the last 20 years in Belghoria area. He was active during the anti land acquisition movement of Singur during the previous regime of Left Front Government and was arrested from the anti slum eviction movement of Nonadanga, by the police under the new TMC government. He was recently active in the mass protests of Kamduni. Mrinalkanti Jana is an activist film maker, associated with Mazdoor Kranti Parishad. Thus this detention and harassment is not a one-off incident of ‘routine investigation’, but reflective of an atmosphere of terror that the state is trying to whip against any voice of opposition to the anti-people developmental model it serves. It is also reflective of the method of operation of state terror which combines the ‘legal’ state machinery with the illegal militia of the ruling parliamentary parties.

We thus hold this act of the Police to be carefully calibrated acts of state terrorism, where the legal machinery of police-administration combine with the illegal militias, both of which feed into each other. Locally the same goondas and contractor mafias that the CPI(M) used to employ as the well-organized armed Harmad Bahini in the rural areas and nameless mafia networks in the urban areas have now turned over and to overlap with the TMC’s own use of these elements in militias and informal goonda networks. This is clearly done in the urban areas to establish control over territory, when mass movements and mass organizations who work with these movements threaten the local equations of power and demand the right to the city space and ask questions diffcult for the state to answer, such as whose city is it- of the financers, contractors and developers or of the toilers and workers? Is it of the forces of patriarchy, sustained and recuperated by the forces of capital and its state, or of the toiling women who seek emancipation from everyday violence?

State terrorism is daily being unleashed on political activists and mass organizations who stand resolutely with peoples’ movements across the country. We condemn this act of the state and demand an unconditional apology and immediate halt to this witch-hunt, and harassment of mass political activists who speak out and organize against the present anti-people regime.