By Tusha Mittal
Dilip Ghosh, 40 Sweet shop worker BRAHMAPUR VILLAGE
IF THE disfigured body of Dilip Ghosh, a sweet shop worker, had been the handiwork of the banned organisation CPI(Maoist), it would have outraged the nation for days. On the morning of 6 January, villagers found his body by a pond, hands and legs chopped, eyes gouged out, tongue sliced, neck slashed, and genitals cut off.
But the death of Dilip Ghosh was the outcome of a confrontation between constitutional political parties. Trinamool Congress carried his body in a glass coffin in political rallies across Kolkata. Perhaps that is why it did not outrage the nation.
On the afternoon of 5 January, villagers of Brahmapur in Burdwan district noticed a group of 150 armed men collecting across the river. Locals say they were armed cadres of the CPM heading towards the village.
Local TMC leaders were alerted. They put up a united front to prevent the CPM from entering. “We fought them with lathis. But they numbered 150, we were only 16. Many of them were drunk. Eventually, we had to run for cover,” says TMC supporter Rabi Ghosh.
Dilip Ghosh wasn’t able to run fast enough because of a foot injury. “The CPM men chased him, caught hold of him and took him away. His disfigured body was found the next day,” says his brother Anandogopal. “The CPM knows it is time for them to go, so they are killing ruthlessly. It’s like: I have to die anyhow, so let me kill everybody else on the way.”
CPM Burdwan secretary Amar Haldar rubbishes the allegations. “Our men who had fled the village were trying to return. Then Dilip Ghosh and other TMC anti-social elements attacked them. There was a clash. That’s how Dilip Ghosh died. Anyone could have mutilated his body after his death,” says Haldar.
Ghosh was a TMC supporter for the past 10 years. His daughter Mahamoni was a candidate for the TMC panchayat elections and his son-in-law Bishwajeet is a block committee member, who earlier led the protest against the CPM.
AFTER A major flood hit the region, the flood relief money was being distributed only to CPM favourites. Biswajeet raised his voice against this but no one paid heed. He then initiated a village committee: Uttar Brahmapur Maan Manusho Sangho. Ghosh supported him. Soon Biswajeet, Ghosh and several others who were part of the village committee joined the TMC.
“To live, to survive, you have to join a political party,” says Bimal Ghosh. The village became ‘pro-TMC’ post Lok Sabha elections in May 2009.
In June 2009, a local CPM leader Falguni Mukherjee was murdered about 5 km from Ghosh’s village. Burdwan district has seen an escalation of violence since the incident.
While the CPM blamed the TMC and Biswajeet as the main accused, the TMC says Mukherjee’s murder was a result of factional wars within the CPM.
Immediately after Mukherjee’s death, Brahmapur and surrounding villagers were attacked. Nearly 20 houses were set on fire, including Biswajeet’s. He had to flee the village with his family. He remained in hiding for six months.
In early December, after TMC activist Purnima Majhi was murdered in Brahmapur, it was the CPM’s turn to flee. Biswajeet and his family were then able to return. The latest clash, locals say, was CPM’s attempt to ‘recapture’ the village.
“I joined politics to improve local issues,” says Mahamoni, 26. “I wanted to improve the roads. But now, my father has died and we are in a situation where we have to continue politics to save ourselves. There’s no way out. We can’t leave the party. Who will speak for us?”