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

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Political Killings in West Bengal

West Bengal is witnessing an unprecedented wave of political killings as parties scramble to depose the CPI(M).

In the four months since the conclusion of the parliamentary elections, West Bengal has been witness to a spate of political killings, which have mostly passed under the radar of public attention. No clear estimates are available but credible accounts suggest that the number of political activists killed after 16 May – when the results of the Lok Sabha elections were announced – could well cross the 150 mark. Apart from the fact that this is a very large number in any context, there appears to be a pattern in these killings, which strongly suggests that these are not random acts of political violence but are, most likely, an outcome of a wellplanned political strategy. Of these, over 110 deaths have been of members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] and about a score of those belonging to the Trinamool Congress, the Indian National Congress and other political parties.

A look at the names and background of those being killed, specially the members of the CPI(M), indicates that they are local activists who are a political party's link with the people. Those killed have been students, schoolteachers, agricultural workers, small peasants, labourers and petty shopkeepers. It can also not be argued that they are being killed as a result of mass anger, such as was seen among the peasantry in Nandigram or in Lalgargh against the state government, since almost all the killings have been by small squads of young men who target the victim and kill with deadly efficiency. An illustrative example is the killing of Kartik Mahato, a 34-year-old CPI(M) member and schoolteacher at Boro Jamda High School in Salboni, near Lalgarh on 14 September. Suspected Maoists came in bikes, entered the class he was teaching and shot him at point-blank range in front of his students. The point here seems to have been not only to eliminate an activist of a rival party but to spread terror among the people by executing the killing in such horrific manner in front of small children. On the same day, the secretary of the CPI(M)’s Salboni unit, Sambhu Mahato, was also killed along with two others. He is the fourth secretary of the Salboni unit of the party to have been killed in the past eight years.

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