|The protesters at the Kamduni Pratibadi Mancha
on Thursday. Picture by Sanjib Chaki
Kamduni, Aug. 7: Kamduni has become a showcase for all causes celebres.
It is another thing that the North 24-Parganas village is also a proposed site for Left regeneration.
A large crowd gathered here this afternoon in pouring rain as the Kamduni Pratibadi Mancha observed yet another death “anniversary” for the girl from the village who was raped and murdered on its outskirts on her way back from college on June 7 last year.
Fourteen months have passed since. Of late, most villagers had been staying away from the monthly memorial meetings held by the protest platform. Their “andolan” (movement), born of their anger at having lost one of their girls, had been hijacked by Trinamul. The girl’s family had opted out of the protest and the villagers had lost hope.
So the large crowd today, most of them women, was unusual but probably not a surprise. They marched in and sat down in plastic chairs under a tarpaulin sheet that did not protect them entirely from the rain, or stood in two neat files in front of the girl’s garlanded picture with candles burning in front.
The women belonged to Nari Swadhikar Samanyay, which unites several women’s organisations and women’s wings of Left parties. Their leaders — Malini Bhattacharya, Barnali Mukherjee, Bharati Mutsuddi, Minati Ghosh — spoke of the importance of keeping the fight on to secure justice for the girl who died on a rainy afternoon just like this.
They were concerned about the progress of the trial. Even after 14 months the fast-track court has not been able to examine all witnesses, they said, and were also worried about the fallout of a weak chargesheet.
Artist and Congress leader Samir Aich was present too. “We have also invited BJP leader Shamik Bhattacharya,” said Pradip Mukherjee, former headmaster of Kamduni primary school and the protest spearhead who insists the movement is apolitical.
But it was clear that if Trinamul has had its say in Kamduni, the Left will have it now.
Otherwise, Kamduni reads like a roll call of all recent atrocities, mostly attributed to Trinamul. Which makes it a long roll call.
Among those present were members of the Sourav Chowdhury Pratibad Mancha — formed after the death of the youth who protested against the illicit liquor mafia in Bamangachhi, North 24-Parganas — and Ambikesh Mahapatra.
Mahapatra, who teaches at Jadavpur University, had forwarded a cartoon of Mamata Banerjee on his email and was beaten up, arrested and locked up. He is part of a platform, recently formed, called “Akranto Amra” (We, the victims).
“Amra nirjatito, protarito ebong akranto (we have been tortured, deceived and attacked),” Mahapatra said. “With us are the Sourav Pratibadi Mancha as well as members of (murdered schoolteacher) Barun Biswas’s family from Sutia,” he said.
Biswas had protested against a local criminal gang accused of several rapes in the North 24-Parganas locality.
“The Kamduni Mancha has joined us. Then there is Protima Dutta from Bally, whose husband Tapan Dutta, a Trinamul party member, was killed. We also have with us Sagar Ghosh’s family.” Sagar was shot dead last year by alleged Trinamul activists.
There was a group that couldn’t get appointment as primary school teachers, a “Chit Fund Sufferers” Unity Forum and families of debt-ridden farmers and tea-estate workers.
Akranto Amra includes Dilip De Sarkar who was manhandled, allegedly by Trinamul student-wing activists, when he was acting principal of Raiganj university college. It also has the Park Street rape victim in its fold, said Mahapatra. “Every day I get calls from more people. The platform is growing every day.”
Kamduni spearhead Pradip Mukherjee, who has been transferred to a school in nearby Shashan, said the villagers are “with us, but are afraid to be seen in public with us”.
For the time being, though, the Kamduni movement seems to have moved out of Kamduni.