Victims of rights violations unite for fair polls in Bengal
Deploring the Mamata Banerjee government's "attack on democracy" in West Bengal, several victims of human rights violations Sunday urged the EC to create a conducive environment for fair Lok Sabha elections in the state.
Several such people along with eminent personalities like filmmaker Mrinal Sen, actor Soumitra Chatterjee, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, and former Supreme Court judge A.K. Ganguly, urged the Election Commission in a signed memorandum to create a favourable turf for free polls.
People like Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, who was arrested for circulating a caricature of Mamata Banerjee, and marginal farmer Shiladitya Chowdhury, who was labelled a Maoist by the chief minister in an open meeting for questioning her government's policies, were among those who voiced their concerns over the ruling Trinamool Congress's attempt to "stifle the voice of those who rise in protest".
"Democracy is facing constant threat under this regime. People are being victimised for exercising their democratic rights. And voting is the biggest democratic right, so we urge the EC to ensure people are able to vote fearlessly and choose a stable government," said Mahapatra.
"Will we be able to vote, that is the question people are compelled to ask considering the fearful environment that has been created by the ruling party," said Pradip Mukherjee of 'Kamduni Pratibadi Mancha' -- a protest platform that evolved following the 2013 rape and murder of a college student in North 24 Parganas district.
Echoing a similar view, Chowdhury who spent 14 days in jail and is still facing prosecution, said: "She (Banerjee) keeps on talking about democracy, but where is democracy? Had there been democracy, I wouldn't have to suffer the way I am doing now."
Sudipto Dey, whose film "Sirshendu's Diary" that takes a critical look at political violence in Bengal was denied clearance by the regional censor certification board, also questioned the Banerjee government's intent.
"What can people expect from a government where a film is denied clearance for using words like 'Bampanthi' (Left wing) and 'Communist'? It's time people take a unified stand against this attack on democracy," said Dey.
Pramila Roy, sister of murdered anti-rape crusader Barun Biswas, also castigated the Banerjee government for patronising criminals.
"It's been two years since my brother was mercilessly killed but I am still waiting for justice. I lost my brother but those who killed him are roaming freely. More Baruns will be killed if we don't stand up against this injustice," said Roy whose brother's efforts helped rid Sutia in North 24 Parganas district of the terror of a gang of rapists.
(Posted on 20-04-2014)