In what appeared as a repeat of the brutal hanging of a BJP worker few days ago, the body of another man was found hanging from a transmission tower in Purulia district of West Bengal. While BJP has launched a scathing attack on the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) for its complicity in the alleged ‘political murders’, this is nothing new for the eastern state which has witnessed some of the most grisly murders involving political feud.
Just a few days back, body of Trilochan Mahato was found hanging from a tree without disturbing message on the left on the note left near his body. The note roughly indicated, “This is for doing BJP politics from age 18. Been trying to kill you since the vote. Failed. Today you are dead.”
The flurry of deaths come after the highly controversial Panchayat elections which had reports of large-scale intimidation, assault and booth-rigging. People alleged that they were beaten with sticks by TMC workers when they went to the polling booths to vote.
Statistics to paint a grim picture. As per reports by National Crime Records Bureau In 2014, West Bengal recorded the maximum number of political murders in the country. And this could come as a shocker for few who have mostly associated states like UP and Bihar as the hotbed of political killings. Biswanath Chakraborty, political commentator and academician says, “The society of West Bengal has always been highly politicised and political conflict is increasing day by day.”
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) which ruled West Bengal for three decades was a trendsetter in political killings. Party members, in order to stifle dissent, resorted to murders, the brutality of which is unparalleled even today. Some of the infamous incidents are the Sainbari killings in 1970, when CPI-M killers bludgeoned two Congress leaders to death and in an unimaginable act of cruelty, made their mother eat rice which was soaked in their blood. In another case, eleven labourers, said to be supporters of TMC and protesting against land grabbing were killed by CPI-M members in 2000. The prime witness Abdul Khalek was also attacked and injured by CPI-M goons.
But before the arrival of Communist parties, Congress, the grand old party of India had also unleashed its share of violence against dissenters. The period from 1972 to 1977 when Congress ruled has been described by Ashok Mitra, former finance minister of West Bengal as the” hoodlum years“. Youth Congress workers were involved in mass murders of Naxalites and CPI-M cadres. There was an incident during JP movement when JP himself came to Kolkata and his car was intercepted by Congress goons.
It may sound appalling but political violence has been a way of life in West Bengal. Subsequent ruling parties have used assaults and murders in order to crush political opposition. While the state has been relatively tolerant of different views in its intellectual circles and universities, the same cannot be said about its politics.