“Delhi Police hai hai”, “Delhi Police Murdabad”, “We Want Justice”, “Doshiyon ko saza do”, “Amit Shah jawab do”, “Amit Shah murdabad”.
These were the slogans chanted during the protest march on 18th June of last year. This protest march was jointly organized by all the Sikh Gurdwara Committees and other prominent Sikh Welfare Societies in Kolkata to express their rage against the brutal assault by Delhi Police of a Sikh auto driver in the Nation’s capital Delhi. More than hundred 100 Sikhs participated in this march as they were furious. At the end of this march a Sikh can be heard giving a speech in Bengali and I quote, “Amra gorbo kori k amra poschim bangla a achi, ekhane police er kono julum nae, ekhane aaj obdi amra police k dekhi ni kono Panjabi k ae rokom bhabe rastae chure marte”. It means that we are proud to live in West Bengal and we have never seen the Bengal Police beating any Sikh like this on the streets, he continues to say that we will be giving in memorandum to the Governor and if we do not hear back then we will go to Delhi to protest. And here we are, after 18 months full circle, on 8th October a Sikh was assaulted by the Bengal Police during a BJP Yuva Morcha rally to the state secretariat. Surprising and sadly the same Sikh Community leaders was nowhere to be found and I wonder why?
Was the victim not a Sikh this time? Was he not assaulted by the Police? The answer is yes, but it didn’t happen in BJP led state one way or the other. Instead of giving the victim their benefit of doubt they started putting posts on social media justifying the police action. Surprisingly their speech started by thanking the state government for the donations and tax concession given to the local Gurdwaras and ended by condemning the BJP leader for politicizing the issue. I agree that Bengal Police did say that they allowed the arrested Sikh to tie his turban before he was taken to jail but that does not change the inhuman behavior of the Police.
Some people were very concerned as he was carrying a gun that could lead to injury or death or untold violence but the same group would not utter a single word when the tyrant party kills their opposition party workers.
How come the same Sikh Community leaders did not take out a protest march this time? let alone condemn the police assault and putting him behind bars on false charges. Finally a BJP leader from Delhi flew to Kolkata to the rescue (something that they claimed to do a year back) and they even had problem with that. Suddenly they started writing open letters to him cautioning him to not meddle with Sikh Community matters in Bengal.
He did not say “Kolkata Police hai hai” or “Kolkata Police Muradabad” or “Mamta Banerjee jawab do”, instead all he did was give a memorandum to the Governor, praise the land of Bengal and the Chief Minister and requested the Chief Minister to meet with him to clarify and resolve the matter. Bengal Police eventually dropped all the charges against the Sikh and he was released because the charges of him carrying an illegal on unlicensed arm were proven to be false and then a handful of Sikh Community members came out for the photoshoot to claim the credit. I mean if this is not be hypocrisy and the height of double standards then I don’t know what is.
But it isn’t just the Sikhs who turned their back on their people but almost everyone else in Bengal did except for a special minority community and again you know who they are, they are more known for something else but the one thing that everyone undermine is their Unity, but that is a discussion for some other time. Coming back to the issue at hand, we have been witnessing, hearing and reading about riots, political murders and many social injustices in Bengal for so long that it does not affect us anymore and trust me this is something that we should be very concerned about.
Riots are something very common in Bengal and the most recent one that I can recall are the Telinipara riots from May of this year. The only reason for those riots was that some Hindus put a barricade to stop those entering the area that tested positive for COVID because they refused to follow the lockdown instructions. As expected their homes and shops were looted and then torched, bombs were hurled by the mob and the only action taken by the police and the state government to stop these riots while still happening was somewhere between zero to none.
Go back one year and you can find something similar happened in May of 2019 in village Bagakhali under Bishnupur block of Diamond Harbour. “Hindu Families In West Bengal Flee Their Homes After Mosques Call For Non-Muslims To Be Killed” says a report from Swarajya.
In the year 2013 there are 106 instances of communal violence in Bengal as per Wikipedia. But the desensitization of Bengal is not just limited to assaults, murder and riots, it even extends to the festivals and culture of Bengal starting with Durga Puja.
I would not have been surprised if the state government would have prohibited the Pandal hopping completely citing COVID as the reason while some other community was allowed to celebrate their festival, now of course It didn’t happen because the election is just around the corner. The reason I can say this because they tried to do something similar in 2017 when the restriction was imposed on the immersion of Durga idols the day after Vijay Dashmi, of course the High Court ruled out against restriction stating “People have the right to practise their religious activities, whichever community they may be of” and the fact that majority of Bengali stayed silent when this restriction was imposed and some had to go to court just to celebrate their festivals as they should and not as per the order given by the state government is astonishing.
But that wasn’t the only attack on Hindu sentiments, before that a very known minister in Bengal was appointed as the chairman of Tarakeswar Development Board, he did step down from the position after the backlash from the opposition party, again not from the common people. I understand that we live in a secular country but why this secularism is pushed and promoted only one way is beyond my understanding.
Remember Basant Utsav in Rabindra Bharati University from this year? If you don’t know what I mean then just glance at the pictures below because I have nothing to say except how proud Rabindranath Tagore would be after watching.
All of the above mentioned is happening so often and frequently that we don’t get shocked or surprised or show any form of emotion to such incidents anymore and we simply move on to the next page on the newspaper. If there is anything that has affected Bengal residents more than COVID then it is short term memory loss, we forget and ignore things very quickly and as per the doctors it often happens due to brain injury, illness or due to the effects of drugs or alcohol but all we need is a season of IPL or Big Boss and BAM! Who cares if their neighbor died yesterday?