03 VILLAGE UNDER SIEGE
By Tusha Mittal
Yudhistir Doloi, 45, TMC block president, JANGRI VILLAGE
AT 14, Asim Doloi has a clear political goal. “When I grow up, I want to wipe out the CPM from this country,” he says, fighting back tears. He has watched armed CPM cadres cut up his father into pieces.
It was a month after CPM’s unprecedented defeat in the 2009 General Elections. The Doloi family was sleeping inside a two-room mud and brick hut in Jangri village when about 100 CPM cadres poured kerosene on their home and burnt it. “Is this what you call politics?”
Yudhistir Doloi, then TMC block president, screamed at the cadres. He was gheraoed and assaulted while his family watched helplessly.
“They sliced his hands, legs, jabbed him in the neck and cut his private parts,” recalls his brother Tapan. When Yudhistir’s 70-year-old mother tried to save him, she was flung on the ground. She wails piteously now, “Oh my son, where have you gone, my son?”
One member of Yudhistir’s family has now been allotted a railway job by the TMC. Thirty-six people were named in the FIR by the family. Police arrested seven and released them on bail three months later. “The Khanagul police tell us we’ll catch them after the government changes,” Tapan says.
A decade ago, Yudhistir was a CPM worker. He switched his allegiance the year TMC was formed, as did so many others. His house was first ransacked before the 2001 Assembly polls. “None of us were allowed to vote, so naturally the CPM won,” recalls Tapan.
An active TMC worker by then, Yudhistir had to flee in 2001. He stayed away for six years before mustering courage to return to his native village in 2006. He was to live with his family for only three years before being hacked to death.
A few days after Yudhistir’s murder in 2009, villagers say a Harmad camp was set up at the local primary school, a kilometre from the police post. Three months after the murder, 20 homes were looted in Jangri village. Last week, more homes were broken and ransacked and any remaining TMC flags torn up. “The police were waiting and watching from the other side of the river,” Tapan says. “If you touch the CPM flag, we’ll burn down all the houses,” the CPM cadres warned Tapan three days into 2011.
YUDHISTIR’S WAS the first of many more deaths to come in Hooghly district’s Arambagh subdivision. Since then, the TMC says at least 11 others have been killed in political violence. Like Noor Mohammed, killed on 4 December 2010.
A resident of nearby Gholdigiri village, Mohammed worked at a biscuit factory. So far an apolitical person, he had just begun attending TMC rallies and meetings a month ago. It was around the same time that CPM cadres began flag marches in the village. At around 2 pm on 4 December, he was walking up the narrow lanes to his hut when he heard his name being called out. “They fired at him point blank. He got a bullet in his chest,” says his wife Begum. Since then, Begum has barely been able to eat. Her elder son works in a zari shop and her younger son in a book binding shop. They have never had much to do with politics but face a dilemma: should they join the TMC? Support it? Or do nothing?
Meanwhile, the CPM cadres continue to march through the village, at times vandalising homes and shops or burning paddy. At night, Begun can hear random firing in the air. “I can’t sleep,” she says. “What if they come back to burn the house down?”