Special Reports

In West Bengal's Birbhum, Muslims being compelled to self-immolate

Trouble brewing within: An Investigative Report

Birbhum district of West Bengal is located at about 200 kms from Kolkata. The population of Muslims here is about 20 percent. A few months ago mutual fights started within Trinamool Congress (Trinamool) cadres in Makhra village under Paroi thana which. It started growing in intensity and gradually the party got divided into two factions. With the coming in of BJP government at the Centre, BJP allied itself with one faction. Both factions consisted of Muslims but they grew so blood thirsty against each other that in the fights that ensued, 13 Muslims were killed. The name of one Trinamool MLA, Munirul Islam, began to appear in the headlines. Their violent activities became more and more intense and their violence and brutalities became common talk in the whole of West Bengal. Excesses and cruelties of the Trinamool MP of the area also increased. Munirul Islam started working under the patronage of this MP who in turn started doing his best, under the patronage of the chief minister, to keep Birbhum under the control of Trinamool. Boys who were already violent and tasked to make bombs began to oppose Trinamool.

BJP adopted violence in all possible ways. Slowly, villages after villages came under the control of violent elements. As Trinamool leaders began to suppress criminals and violent elements with the help of police, ground started slipping form under their feet so much so that Trinamool leaders found it difficult to live in their own villages and began to fear entering their own villages. Some days ago Mithun of Satora village, whose real name is Masoom, threw a bomb at the police and went underground. He is still untraced. It is said that his family had been indulging in violence and goondaism for generations. Earlier this family was in the Congress but later jointed CPIM. When Trinamool came to power it latched on to Trinamool and now this boy  has started working for BJP. Police raided Mithun's house on 20 January to arrest him. When he could not be caught, police began to search for his mother Nargis. When she too could not be caught, police got hold of his younger aunt Hayatunnisa. Police tortured her a lot so as to find the whereabouts of Mithun but they did not succeed in this way also. Media began to criticise the police because of which it was compelled to free Hayatunnisa.

A joint fact-finding delegation of Women's Awareness Movement of Kolkata, led by Mrs Qudsia Ahmad and of the Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat under the leadership of its general secretary Mr Abdul Aziz, reached the village on 11 February to tour Birbhum's affected areas. It found a police camp there while police personnel were keeping vigil.

Mrs Hayatunnisa told the delegation members that police caught hold of her by force, took her to a forest, tied her to a tree and mercilessly beat her up to force her to disclose the whereabouts of her nephew Maithun. But since she knew nothing about his whereabouts, she could not tell them anything. A few hours later the police released her. When she was asked why she and her family members were supporting BJP in spite of BJP's anti-Muslim attitude and policy, she replied with a smile that if they and the village people had not sought BJP's help, Trinamool Congress with the help of police would have made their lives hell. Maithun's mother Nargis said that Trinamool people exploited her son in any way they wanted but in return they did not give him anything. They had promised to give him 20,000 rupees but did not pay him even a rupee till date. They did not provide him with a job, so for how long he could have waited?, she asked.

The delegation members came to know that a few days back Maithun had thrown a bomb on police at the instance of his new political bosses, injuring many policemen as a result. Police is in his pursuit to exact  its revenge for the attack on the police.

Delegation members met many people in this village who all were singing paeans of BJP and complaining of Trinamool’s excesses and cruelties. They claimed that Trinamool is not providing any help now, hence they perforce seeks the help of BJP. The owner of a chemist shop said in reply to a question that when politics was not common and was not a potent factor, people of the village used to solve their problems themselves but ever since politics has become widespread, politicians have become influential and politics of violence has destroyed the village.

This evil of violence is somewhat more widespread in villages inhabited by Muslims. Muslim youth are available at a cheaper rate than others to undertake subversive activities, hence they are easily exploitable.

The delegation members also toured Makhra village which comes under the jurisdiction of Paroi thana. In this village, a number of Muslims were killed in violence. All the village folk, men, women, children and the elderly, prefer to live under the patronage of BJP. When they are told that BJP is an enemy of Muslims, they clearly say that BJP may very well be the enemy of Muslims in Gujarat and other places but here it is with us, i.e., it is helping these people to defeat Trinamool. It came to our knowledge that people of almost three blocks, where the population of Muslims is about 80 percent, now support the BJP. In reply to a question by delegating members, a youngster said that Muslim leaders of Jamiat like Siddiqullah Chaudhary and people from his party, PDC, had come here but Siddiqullah too has become an agent of Trinamool because of which people of the village have started hating him. Now no one listens to Muslim leaders and no Muslim group or Jama’at has any following here. The competition or fight now is between Trinamool and BJP. Influence of Congress is virtually nil here. As regards CPM leaders and cadres, they are afraid and terrified. Some have even fled from the village while some people are not opening their shops out of fear.

Delegation members also met Trinamool leader Sheikh Mustafa. When the delegation leader Abdul Aziz asked him, why after all the villages are so much against Trinamool, he replied that all have come under the leadership of anti-social elements. CPM is the party of atheists and BJP is anti-Muslim and both are fighting jointly against Trinamool, he said adding that BJP is openly against Trinamool and CPM is targeting it from behind the scene. When he was told that all people of the village are not anti-social elements, then why then they were all against Trinamool, he said that all have been purchased on the strength of money. In reply to another question, he said that his leader Mamta Bannerji wants to constitute a front of all parties to fights against the communalist BJP and RSS. When he was asked if his party would like to form a front of all parties and fight against BJP and RSS, he said that he and his party will certainly be ready for this.

The delegation consisted of Mrs Uzma Alam, secretary of Women Awareness Movement, Dr. Naeemuddin and Sadiq Ahmad and Mr Abdul Aziz, general secretary of the West Bengal unit of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat.

The delegation arrived at the following conclusions: 

  1. Muslims have become sacrificial goats in the fight between Trinamool and BJP. Whenever there has been a political change in West Bengal, the Muslim community alone has been made the sacrificial goat. History is again repeating itself.
  2. Because of Trinamools's short-sightedness and injustice, BJP is strengthening its position in the state. If Trinamool does not change its strategy and manners, very soon the ground will slip from under its feet.
  3. BJP is adopting the same strategy for capturing political power in West Bengal which political parties had adopted earlier.
  4. Chivalry and sincerity have taken a plunge in Muslim leadership and it too appears to be seeking leadership with the support of others.
  5. What is needed is that good social and political people and leaders should come forward and boldly face violence, communalism and fascism. If they fail in this duty, West Bengal too will start burning in the fire of communalism.
  6. Muslims need to fight against communalism and violence in cooperation with people of all communities. If any Muslim party fights elections on communal lines, Muslims will be harmed and communalists will benefit. For communal harmony, Muslims will have to be very active and vigilant. Only then the atmosphere of West Bengal will be conducive for Muslims.

(Issued on 14 February 2015 by All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, West Bengal Unit)

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