Institutionalised Myths – Bengal
Over the past two weeks, the social media platforms have gone into frenzy over “fascist” actions of the government of West Bengal. Cartoons, which have been at the center of it all, have been floating on the net criticising the high handedness of the present regime. Albeit, there is no smoke without fire, but sadly, most of the outrage was misplaced and fuelled by half baked truths sold by section of visual and print media.
A furore arose on Twitter when a Delhi based English news channel reported that the “Chief Minister” of West Bengal had “banned” Marx from the History syllabus. Without delving into details, and without bothering to cross check facts, think tanks (including veteran historian and exiled writer) on the microblogging site started hitting out at the “dictatorship” of the current government which was “bent on rewriting history”. It took an interview of the chairman of the syllabus reforms committee to TOI and official statement from Higher Education Minister to set the records straight. None, however, bothered to express apologies for their hasty reactions.
The Chief Minister came under scathing attack from the Twitter celebs when a professor of Jadavpur University was arrested by police for circulating cartoons on the CM. People, who had not the slightest idea about the state, became experts on the affairs of West Bengal overnight. From sarcastic tweets to personal insults – the woman who freed Bengal from the communists had to bear lashes for a crime unfounded.
A reputed media house (followed by all other English news channels) reported that Bengal CM personally ordered the arrest of JU professor who “created” that cartoon. The truth in this statement is as prudent as the existence of Santa Claus. Not only was the professor NOT the one to create the cartoon, the CM was not even in Kolkata when the incident happened. Government of West Bengal did not appear in the list of complainants against the professor, neither were any complainants remotely related to the ruling party.
To even imagine that a lady, who has had to undergo vitriolic attacks in her career spanning four decades, will take offence to something as trivial as a cartoon. Someone who in the past has been compared to sex workers, dragged by her hair out of state Secretariat (despite being a Central Minister), beaten to near death for defying a Bandh, would be so immature. To even suggest that a lady who has books on humor and cartoons to her credit, who in recent past had offered all help to ailing cartoonist Narayan Debnath, would be averse to cartoons. Had she not possessed the patience, her struggle would always have remained a myth.
The national media tactfully “forgot” to mention in its reports that the CM, upon finding out the case of the professor, ordered Kolkata Police not to oppose his bail. If some women (out of their respect for CM, as they said in their complaint) find a certain picture derogatory, how is the CM to be blamed for it? This is akin to blaming the woman for inviting rape.
“Beware, the Big Brother is watching”. Another piece of fiction sprung from some fertile mind, that the government was monitoring social media for all contents that spoke badly of the present government of West Bengal, started surfacing during the weekend. Despite assurances from party general secretary on TV, there were hardly any takers for the contrary.
The CID, as part of its job, asked for some IP details based on a complaint from a resident of Salt Lake. The complainant, in an interview to TOI, said he made complaints against certain forums on Facebook, out of his reverence for Didi. The national media chose to pin blames on “fascist” government “which has lost the plot” “to paranoia”.
The most tragic of it all, the statements from a revered scientist who was detained for being in a protest march at Nonadanga where illegal encroachers were being evicted to make way for developmental projects of KMDA. Dr Partha Sarathi Roy saw “dark days of democracy” in Bengal under this regime which sought to displace “innocent slum dwellers from their property”.
Dr Roy is an honorable scientist. Probably due to the deluge of work that he has to perform for furthering the cause of science in India, that he missed reading two reports on Nonadanga, one in TOI, and the other in Telegraph (yes, the BIGGEST critic of the CM currently). Had he seen them, he would have known that the Government of WB has rehabilitated all the 200 families that were placed in makeshift arrangements at Nonadanga when they were evicted from Gobindopur Railway COlony in 2006.
Dr Roy would also have come to know from these reports that brokers, who happened to be CPM workers, had leased out property to emigrants from various villages in 24 Parganas, Hooghly and even Bankura, who had emigrated with the hope of having a share of the pie of government rehabilitation. Can Dr Roy hold the CM responsible for this? Is the government responsible for the future of these slum dwellers who had encroached upon government property?
Dr Partha Sarathi Roy is an honourable man. When he speaks of dictorship it pains me. He is genuinely unaware of the latest report from Ministry of Home Affairs which cautions GoWB against rising Maoist influence in Kolkata (with ISI help) and their involvement in Nonadanga. The report names Matangini Mahila Samiti as a frontal organisation (Debalina, a member of the same, was arrested with Dr Roy from Nonadanga during protests). When Dr Roy says he has no links to Maoists, i believe him. Of course, he is being framed by a dictator to silence the voice of freedom.
What is a dictator? A leader detached from the masses, intoxicated by power, who cares least for civil liberties or welfare, right? Does our CM fit the bill? Yes of course! She is the first person to rush to North Bengal when earthquake strikes (probably the first CM in 4 decades to visit NB 5 times in 34 years), the first person to rush to monitor flood relief in South Bengal, a CM who goes on district tours every month to monitor the pace of work at grassroot levels, a leader who gives lift to stranded citizens on the night when Kolkata was under siege of a storm – all signs of a dictator?
I knew dictators lived lavishly at the expense of tax payers. I did not know the definition of dictator includes them who do not draw any salary for a public post, travel by their own car and refuse to travel in a cavalcade, causing discomfort to public. It irks me when someone calls this woman heartless, for we have seen her cry for Tapshi Malik. It pains me to hear someone call her Hitler, for we have always heard her say “Ami tomader e lok”. It anguishes me to read figments of imagination propagated as news, just to embarrass a government run by a woman who lives on her own terms.
(Chapter 2 : Why The Indian Media Loves to Show Bengal in bad light while eclipsing good stories emanating out of the State).
To Be Continued…..