| Charred grass and a mauled Maidan are mute witnesses to Sunday’s show of strength by the CPM’s peasants’ wing. The picture above is of the same spot which Metro clicked on Sunday, showing rice being cooked to feed the rallyists on a makeshift chulha. Picture by Amit Datta
Over 300-plus cadre from the CPM’s Calcutta District Committee and 40-odd workers on hire put in around eight hours of labour on Monday, trying to undo the damage done on the city’s precious patch of green during Sunday’s show of strength by the party’s peasants’ wing.
The broom brigade gathered seven truckloads of garbage and sprinkled sand on the Maidan, but the dressing-up did little to heal the scars left behind by the rallyists.
As large tracts of the green still bore signs of Sunday’s community feast, an all-woman club dashed off letters to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, seeking redress, and the city’s green brigade flexed its muscles, threatening to move court.
Shock and awe awaited members of the Calcutta Ladies’ Golf Club, as they found rallyists had plundered almost all the nine “greens” of their turf.
Some of the members, who trickled in on Monday for their swing sessions, struggled to find a place to hold their shots, even hours after the formal “dressing” and “restoring” job was over.
“This is just not acceptable. We have written to the chief minister seeking his intervention to save the club’s greens. The buses were parked on the greens of the golf course and the tyre marks are still there. We’re not opposed to rallies, but please let us also have our share of the green as well,” said Anuka Datta Kanungoe, honorary secretary and vice-captain of the 116-year-old club.
“It takes a lot of pain, sweat and toil to prepare a green and keep the area well. This is the first time we are forced to write to the chief minister because of the scale of the damage,” she added, ruing the mauling of the manicured part of the Maidan.
Besides Bhattacharjee, the club has also shot off letters to the sports minister, the army top brass and the police commissioner, detailing how Sunday’s rally had left the club ‘devastated’ and that there should be an end to this.
As two invitational tournaments, one national and the other international, are lined up later this month, the members of the club — billed as the one of its kind in this part of the globe — are in a fix.
“The area is just not fit for playing golf any more and I just hope that the officers from the army, who turn up for the tournament, will realise it. I’m not sure if this could have happened anywhere else,” said S.C. Mahtab, club captain.
But Samar Baora, secretary of Pradeshik Krishak Sabha, the CPM’s peasants’ wing, could not care less, as he was busy preparing a letter inviting the army for a joint inspection before the ceremonial handing-over of the Maidan on Tuesday.
“While taking over the Maidan on March 8, we had said that we would hand over a ‘better Brigade’ and I hope we have delivered the goods. It has been a tremendous effort and let others judge,” Baora said.
But the green brigade pressed for a permanent ban on plundering of the greens.
“This cannot go on… We’ll file a petition with the high court, demanding a permanent rally venue in the city,” said environment activist Subhas Dutta.