ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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CPI(M) Rides Left Front Squabbles

THE just-concluded panchayat poll in West Bengal has once again vindicated the CPI(M)'s claim that it continues to enjoy the overwhelming support of the rural people. The party's impressive performance in the election to the three-tier panchayat bodies

Testing Time for Left Front in West Bengal

Testing Time for Left Front in West Bengal kalyan Chaudhuri This month's elections to the panchayat bodies in West Bengal are likely to severely test Left Front unity. As things are dissensions among the Front partners, each of whom has consolidated its past gains in selected districts has led to their fielding candidates opposing one another in many areas. This can only benefit the Congress(l), especially in the wake of the Tripura election results.

Left Front s Ten Years in Power

Kalyan Chaudhuri The Left Front has just completed ten years of uninterrupted rule in West Bengal. How has it fared in dealing with the basic problems of the state and its people?

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than on his office work is actually killing an investment project where his unemployed brother could perhaps get a job. But maybe experience has told him that a new office does not always mean more opportunities for the sons- of-the-soil; it may just be manned by outsiders.

WEST BENGAL-Victims of Their Leaders Making

ECONAND POLITICAL WEEKLY WEST BENGAL Victims of Their Leaders' Making Kalyan Chaudhuri THE West Bengal government is on horns of a dilemma over the problem posed by the large number of refugees who have left Dandakaranya and have been camping in Hasnabad on their way towards the Sundarbans. At present there are about 10,000 families of Dandakaranya deserters in Hasnabad, the gateway of the Sundarbans; and many have already forcibly entered in the uninhabitable, and restricted areas under the Tiger Project in the Sundarban forests. The Left Front government of West Bengal, which from the very beginning has been smelling a rat in the sudden influx of refugees from Dandakaranya, is completely at a loss as to preventing the refugees from fanning out across the Ichamati river in commandeered boats into the Sundarbans on the other side from Hasnabad. Force appears to be the only answer; but that would mean inevitable bloodshed which the state government wants to avoid. The State government appears to be determined not to allow these people to settle down in the Sundarbans; the Dandakaranya deserters, on the other hand, are adamant and refuse to budge an inch from their programme of 'Sundarban Chalo'. At present the refugees have been cordoned by heavy police guard in Hasnabad and there have been reports of clashes between the police and the undaunted sections of refugees. The situation is quite explosive and any moment large-scale disturbances may break out creating a major law and order problem. While the state government has been consistently persuading the refugees to return to Dandakaranya, it has also had to provide them, for the interim period, with food and shelter in Hasnabad. With the onset of monsoon the condition of refugee camps in Hasnabad has worsened and reports of death due to various diseases have been more frequent.

WEST BENGAL-Panchayat Elections

its revenue from DAVP advertisement rose nearly six-fold, from Rs 3,668 in interesting to note that just when the interesting to note that just when the CPI's began its muted criticisms of the 'abuses and excesses' of Emergency from the time when Indira Gandhi began to attack the party by name, while the circulation of New Age went 1976-77, during the same period its

WEST BENGAL-Ananta Singh Case CPI(M) on Trial

October 8, 1977 WEST BENGAL Ananta Singh Case: CPI(M) on Trial Kalyan Chaudhuri THE Left Front government in West Bengal has refused to consider as political prisoners those who are being tried in the Fourth Tribunal. The chief minister, Jyoti Basu, told representatives of the Bandimukti-O-Gana- dabi Prastuti Committee, when they met him on September 14, that the state government would not treat Ananta Singh, Amalcndu Sen (husband of Mary Tyler), Kalpana Bose, and their 30 other associates, who are being tried in the Fourth Tribunal, as political elements, and the Committee was tree to undertake any programme of action on this issue. The deputationists claimed that Jyoti Basu's attitude was "very rigid".

WEST BENGAL-Women Prisoners in Presidency Jail

WEST BENGAL Women Prisoners in Presidency Jail Kalyan Chaudhuri IT is not yet known how many were arrested in West Bengal during the Emergency. But, if the crowding in West Bengal jails is any indication, the number arrested must have been staggering. The inflow of prisoners made the jail authorities look for extra accommodation. Because of the overcrowding, some prisoners were packed off to jails outside the state. Overcrowding, in fact, was often a constant source of irritation and frayed tempers between the prisoners and the jail staff, resulting in violent clashes inside the jails.

The Howrah Prison Killings-Story of a Jail Break

THERE were as many as 15 jail "disturbances'' in West Bengal in the four- and-a-half years between December 1970 and May 1975. Sixty-eight prisoners were killed in these incidents, 310 were wounded and 102 managed to escape. No fewer than 106 members of the jail staff are alleged to have suffered injuries. One incident in the Alipore Central Jail on November 20, 1971 alone resulted in the death of eight prisoners and injuries to 202. In the Durn Duin jail a few months earlier, 16 prisoners were killed and 50 injured. In August 1971, in an incident in Asansol Special Jail nine prisoners were killed. The state government instituted executive inquiries into five of these incidents and judicial probes into two. Justice J Sharma Sarkar, who investigated the last of the series in the Howrah District Jail in May 1975, has remarked: "Use of force and firing by the sentries inside the Howrah District Jail was not only excessive but also illegal and unjustified, having regard to the nature, manner, number, occasion and timing of the use of force including firing. The incident shocked not only the relations of the dead and the injured, but also the social and moral conscience of the people here and abroad.'' The one-man Sharma Sarkar Commission was set up by the state government in May 9, 1975 to inquire into the incident that took place in the Howrah District Jail on May 3, 1975. The Commission's main terms of reference were to find out (i) the causes and the nature of the disturbances and the circumstances under which they originated; (ii) the maimer In which the situation, in relation to the disturbances, was dealt with; (iii) whether the force used by the jail staff, including firing, in dealing with the disturbances, was unjustified or excessive and, if so, the identity of the persons responsible for use of such unjustified or excessive force; and (iv) measures for preventing recurrence of similar disturbances. The Commission recorded eight Statements; one of them was filed by the Prisons Directorate, three by the father, sister and mother of three deceased prisoners

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The whole process of decision-making by the electorate must have been carried out at a high political level, as there had been little excesses like forcible sterilisation in West Bengal. Demolition of huts and roadside stalls had taken place in some areas a few months ago, but it was soon halted and in many cases they were allowed to reappear in the same places.

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