Any person aware of the Naxalite movement cannot miss the infamous name, Runu alias Ranjit Guha Niyogi, the criminal police officer of Calcutta. He was responsible for unleashing a reign of terror against the movement supporters and activists. Young boys and girls were tortured and murdered at his behest. Runu was also responsible for the murder of Com. Charu Majumdar who died in Calcutta’s Lal Bazaar lock-up when essential medical aid was withdrawn. In a recent court ruling, after about two decades of struggle, Runu was held guilty in the well-known case of Archana Guha who was rendered handicapped during tortures by the police. In fact, he was well known for the cruel and bestial tortures of women revolutionaries. Many of his colleagues in the West Bengal police force have even admitted Runu to be a black spot in the police force.
Reminiscing his Naxalbari days, Runu has written a book in which he has sought to defend his various crimes against Naxalites and has even glorified them. By publishing his book (to be released) and carrying extracts of the book as a special feature in their widely circulated daily, Ananda Bazar Patrika, the Ananda Bazar Publication has not only helped to cover up the crimes of a criminal police officer and to project him in a positive light, but this newspaper group, with its sensitive political antennas and reactionary instincts, has sensed that the present national crisis would bring about a revival of the Naxalite movement and hence renewed its ideological offensive against it.
Acting on prior information, we demonstrated in front of the newspaper’s office on 22 November but ignoring our request (a letter had been submitted to the newspaper authorities), the newspaper went ahead and carried the first instalment of the extracts in its Sunday section of November 24. The Party demonstrated peacefully again on November 24 in Calcutta against the non-compliance with our request and strongly warned the newspaper not to come out with the second part of the article on the following Sunday i.e. December 1. However, the newspaper ignored us this time too. The same day Party activists protested in front of the Sealdah Station in Calcutta and Tahirpur, a place close to Krishnanagar, the district headquarters of Nadia. At both places vans carrying the day’s Ananda Bazar Patrika were seized and the newspapers burnt. Entire Nadia district went without that day’s edition of the newspaper. Some comrades were arrested in Calcutta.
At Nadia, the crackdown was even more brutal reminiscent of the 70s. On 3 December, a huge police posse led by the Nadia district SP, Manoj Malabya and the DSP (HQ) of Nadia, Subhankar Chatterjee swooped down on the Nadia district office of CPI(ML)-Liberation in Krishnanagar. 15 comrades including two women and the Party’s Nadia District Committee Member, Bijoy Shah, were rounded up and badly beaten inside the office premises. The office too was smashed. After the raid, they were taken to the Krishnanagar Police Station and false charges including non-bailable ones, were clamped on them including one as far-fetched as posing a threat to national security.
At the police station the three leaders Bijoy Shah, Subhashish Chakravarty and Narain Shah, received third-degree tortures by the notorious DSP during interrogations. Bijoy Shah was hanged by his hands and mercilessly beaten which severely damaged his legs. During the tortures they tried to force Bijoy to say ‘CPI(ML) Murdabad’ and the DSP repeatedly told him: ‘Leave CPI(ML) and take membership of CPI(M). Sailen Dasgupta (State CPI(M) leader) is waiting for you.’
The tortures continued till late night after which they were taken to the local hospital in an unconscious state. Looking at their severe condition after the lock-up tortures, the doctors insisted that they be admitted to the hospital but the police would not agree to anything more than some first-aid. Instead they were taken back to the police station. The next day, on 4 December, Bijoy Shah was tortured again in the same manner and with same brutality. The same day, they were shifted to jail. It was only then that they were admitted to a hospital by the jail authorities.
Reminded of the dark memories of the ’70s and their similar repetition under a left government, well-attended protests sprang up in all parts of the state — in Malda, Murshidabad and many other districts. On December 5, a highly successful 24-hour Nadia bandh along with other protest programmes was organised by the Party in which 86 activists were arrested from all over the district. The 15 comrades arrested from the Party office are still in jail. No action has been initiated against the guilty SP and DSP. An appeal has also been made to various human rights organisations to take cognisance of the matter and also of the growing incidence of custodial violence in West Bengal often used as a tool for political vendetta.
Runu thus now has an emulator in the person of Subhankar Chattterjee, the DSP (HQ) of Nadia district. The ironic difference between the two is that while Runu was the nurtured Naxalite-baiter of Siddharth Shankar Ray’s anti-communist Congress regime, the latter is patronised by a ‘communist’ government to do the same thing.
—SiddarthaHome > Liberation Main Page > Index Page January 1997 > ARTICLE