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Home > News > Columnists > Sumit Bhattacharya

Narendra 'Newton' Buddhadeb

November 16, 2007

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Over the second weekend of November, when the rest of India was pondering the box-office fate of two self-indulgent Hindi movies, Indian democracy was being raped, pillaged and murdered in Nandigram, the cluster of villages in West Bengal that has seen terrorism of a unique kind over a violent anti-land acquisition struggle all of this year.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist wears its secular heart on its sleeve. It likes to point out Gujarat 2002 as evidence of the horror of the Right even in the new millennium. It wants the Tehelka sting on the Gujarat riots discussed in Parliament, but maintains what happened in Nandigram is a state subject.

It is not. Nandigram is as much a blot on India in the new millennium as Gujarat 2002. Both massacres are similar. Very similar.

They both happened during the reign of chief ministers seen as bigger than the party they lead, chief ministers who are seen as pro-development, even ruthlessly so.

And in both, the perpetrators of State terror will point at precursor events as justification. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its saffron cohorts will always point at Godhra and the people killed every time anyone says 'riots.' The CPI-M will always point at its cadres being driven out of Nandigram. The BJP will scream 'premeditated jihadi terrorism,' the CPI-M will shout 'Maoists.'

Heed the statements of Narendra Modi and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. Modi gave 'every action will have an equal and opposite reaction' a whole new sinister meaning, and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has gone on record that what happened in Nandigram is payback by the same coin. Isaac Newton, RIP.

So, next time there is jihadi terrorism or Maoist violence, the solution, it follows from Narendra Newton Buddhadeb, is giving a free hand to private armies -- to rape, to burn, to kill.

Look at the images from Gujarat 2002 and Nandigram 2007: cadres on bikes, headbands, armbands, arms. Only the colour has changed: from saffron to red.

The Babu Bajrangis of Gujarat will find blood brothers in the likes of Shukur Ali and Tapan Ghosh � CPI-M 'leaders' from West Midnapore � against whom there are non-bailable arrest warrants, but who an entire state police can't find and arrest. There are shouts and murmurs that the two were caught smuggling half-dead bodies from Nandigram to show the body count as less, and then eventually arrested under different names, and that their identities were revealed in a district court. Yes, unofficial reports peg the death toll in the Nandigram massacre to nearly triple digits. 

The Communists think they have monopoly over facts. That is why their cadres are now going around Nandigram pointing out stockpiles of ammunition and landmines to journalists and the CRPF as proof that Nandigram was a Maoist uprising. Never mind their own guns. Never mind that the media, activists and Central forces were not allowed access to Nandigram when it was burning. Just imagine, in an age when a star catching a cold will likely be 'breaking news,' there were no images from Nandigram before the media was 'allowed' in.

There is a Central Bureau of Investigation report with the Calcutta high court chief justice on a 'police firing' in Nandigram earlier this year. Maybe it will point us to what really happened in Nandigram, not just this November, but before that.

Ironically, the 300,000-plus voters of Nandigram make up what is called a red stronghold. If in such a stronghold a cluster of villages can hold out against an entire state government's might for nearly a year, what exactly was the government doing besides its leaders issuing statements like 'we will make life hell for them'?

Fact is, to stand up to the CPI-M in West Bengal is to stand up to terror. Terror that is as subtle as it is sinister. If you are anti-CPI-M, you will not get water in your village house. You will not get a School Service Commission job. Even if you do, you will be posted to the back of beyond. It is all cloak and dagger, it is all about where your loyalty lies. The grassroot organisational make up of the CPI-M in West Bengal has striking similarities with the one organisation the Communists love to hate, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. In every para -- Bengali for neighbourhood -- there are CPI-M dadas who are the custodians of right and wrong.

In Kolkata now, the battle-lines are being drawn. The 'intellectuals' coming out in protest against Nandigram will be countered with 'intellectuals' who owe their existence to the Communists. Processions will be countered by processions. Propaganda will be countered by propaganda.

These are Frankensteins of our own making.

The CPI-M came to power against the backdrop of State terror unleashed by the Congress. It empowered the villagers with its pioneering land reforms. And now, with its over two decades of social engineering having borne fruit in a brilliant brain-washing machine -- mogoj dholai, as articulated so well by a fellow 'Bong' colleague -- it is showing its fangs.

The Communist West Bengal government is following a policy of State terror best articulated by George W Bush [Images], the man who is a metaphor for everything they oppose: You are either with us, or against us. 

Meanwhile, cry, India.

On second thoughts, don't; the Sensex must have touched 30,000 by now. Or some movie stars must be fighting a cold war. Or some NRI somewhere must be having a gala marriage.  

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