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regular-article-logo Saturday, 18 May 2024

Kaliaganj revives 2018 Daribhit 'firing' memories

Manu, homemaker at Daribhit, and Jyotsna, resident of Chandga, are protecting graves of their sons, who had lost their lives in alleged police firing

Kousik Sen Raiganj Published 04.05.23, 07:03 AM
The graves (the semi-finished concrete enclosure) of Rajesh Sarkar and Tapash Barman at Daribhit village in North Dinajpur

The graves (the semi-finished concrete enclosure) of Rajesh Sarkar and Tapash Barman at Daribhit village in North Dinajpur

Manju Barman and Jyotsna Barman are residents of North Dinajpur and are separated by over 150km.

They don’t know each other, but they have one thing in common. Manu, a homemaker at Daribhit, and Jyotsna, a resident of Chandga, are protecting the graves of their sons, who had lost their lives in alleged police firing.

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The women think only CBI probes into the deaths of their sons would give them justice.

In September 2018, Tapash, Manju’s son, and his friend Rajesh Sarkar had died in suspected police firing during a protest in front of Daribhit High School, which erupted over the “faulty posting” of two teachers at the institution.

“My son and Rajesh died because police opened fire on them. Senior officials denied the firing charge. Since then, we have been demanding a CBI investigation. More than five years have passed but we have not lost hope,” said Manju.

She visits her son’s grave regularly and offers prays.

“We had buried the mortal remains of our son and Rajesh instead of cremating them.... We felt it necessary because the CBI might need to exhume the bodies for the probe,” Manju said.

A CID investigation into the duo’s deaths is still in progress.

Mrityunjoy Barman, a youth who had died at Chandga in police firing last week, was also buried, and not cremated. Similarly, the body of a minor girl, whose death had triggered protests and the torching of Kaliaganj police station, was buried.

Nilkamal, Rajesh’s father, said: “We have come to know that the families of both the girl and the youth (Mrityunjoy) buried their bodies. It’s like a rerun of what we had done five years ago. As a father who has lost his son in the police firing, we can feel their pain. Like them, we are also hoping that our demand for a CBI probe would be met someday.”

Senior police officers said the girl had died after consuming poison. Her family, however, claimed that she had been raped and murdered.

Following the girl’s death, violence sparked in Kaliaganj during a protest march by a joint forum of Rajbanshis and tribal people. The local police station was torched and police personnel were severely beaten up.

After the attack, the police raided Mrityunjoy’s village and picked up some persons. This made him protest and he was allegedly shot by an assistant sub-inspector who was there in the village.

The families of Daribhit, who knocked on several doors and had even been to Delhi to press for their demand, have decided to stand by the bereaved families of the girl and Mrityunjoy.

“The police had gunned down my son and his friend without any provocation. A similar incident happened in Chandga. Also, there is confusion over the girl’s death. We will meet their families and stand by them in their struggle for justice. They should have faith in the judiciary,” said Nilkamal.

Manju, too, wants to meet the families of the recent victims.

“Recently, I attended a protest rally in Islampur. I have spoken with some people and told them to take us to their villages,” she said.

Mrityunjoy’s father Rabindranath said the graves were testimony to the atrocities of the police.

“The CID is probing my son’s murder but we don’t trust the state agency. My son was gunned down in front of my eyes by the police. We can feel how the families of the two youths of Daribhit are spending their days and believe we should continue our struggle together,” he said.

Bishnu, Mritynjoy’s cousin, pointed out that the CID had been probing the Daribhit case for the past five years but has not come up with any clear findings so far. “How can we bank on the same agency then?” he asked.

The incident at Daribhit helped the BJP secure Raiganj Lok Sabha seat in 2019. The North Dinajpur district has a minority population of around 49 per cent.

In 2021, however, Trinamul managed to recover considerably and won seven of nine Assembly seats.

“The BJP is desperately flagging the recent incidents again and playing the polarisation card. We need to see how Trinamul handles the situation,” said an observer.

Basudeb Sarkar, the district president of the BJP, said: “They are victims of the state’s atrocities. Our party is with them.”

Kanaialal Agarwala, the district Trinamul president, said: “The incidents were unfortunate. We hope the truth will be unveiled in due course. But what the BJP is doing is nothing but politics over dead bodies.”

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