‘Khela Hobe’ is nothing new to the Hindus of Bengal. They have witnessed many such khelas or brutal games on their lives and liberty for centuries – starting with the Islamist invasions from the 12th Century AD causing the annihilation of Bengal’s traditions and culture, including the destruction of many ancient temples and culminating with British rule established in 1757 after the ignominious defeat and execution of Nawab Sirajudaulah of Murshidabad in the Battle of Plassey. However, if we go back in time, around 115 years back, we can clearly enunciate many such ‘khelas’ played on the hapless Bengalis time and again :
1. 1905 Partition of Bengal – Khela by Lord Curzon, who divided Bengal on Hindu-Muslim lines in the garb of administrative convenience, thus sowing the seeds of disharmony and providing leeway to the M community to form their own groups to put forth their own demands before that of the nation. It was reversed in 1911 by Lord Hardinge in the wake of widespread boycott of British goods, Swadeshi movement, riots and protests spearheaded by stalwarts like Gurudeb Rabindranath Thakur.
2. Communal Khela of 1926- The Hindu- Muslim disunity and divide caused by the British since 1905 kept on causing skirmishes between the two communities which led to the riots of 1926 in Calcutta leading to the death of a few.
3. Bengal Famine of 1943 – Khela by the British colonisers. A man made famine caused by the British colonial rulers during 1943, at the time of World War II devastated Bengal’s agriculture based economy causing the death of 2 – 3 million people and forced many to sell off their lands and join the British Army fighting the World War. This is what the British wanted.
4. August 1946 – Direct Action Day – Khela by the Butcher of Bengal, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, the then Prime Minister of Bengal, who organized a cunningly plotted progrom of Hindu genocide by his troops of Islamic marauders, who butchered hindus in various parts of the Calcutta and raped the hindu women. The progrom left thousands dead in a span of few hours. It was Dr. S. P. Mukherjee’s dedicated efforts to standby the hindus as a towering figure and Gopal Mukherjee aka Gopal Patha’s brave and untiring fightback, taking the fight right into the homes of the Islamist butchers, that saved the day for the hindus in Calcutta.
5. October 1946, Noakhali – Khela by the Islamist terrorist, Pirzada Gholam Sarwar Hossaini, in retaliation against the failure of the Direct Action Day, wherein a program carried on by him and his equally brutal associate, Kasem led to the rape and abduction of many women and violent death of many hindus compelling them to flee towards hindu majority areas of West Bengal, leaving their home and hearth behind.
6. 1947 Partition – A Khela by the British and the Congress, when the nation was divided on communal lines. Many hindus from East Pakistan were forced to flee in an impoverished state, from East Pakistan after being chased out of their homes by the M community, when they had only one choice – to die. Many were converted and killed, the women were raped and abducted. Thankfully, Dr. S. P. Mukherjee ‘s tireless efforts to retain West Bengal, gave the Bengali hindus a place to stay.
7. 1950 East Pakistan riots – Khela by Pakistani police and paramilitary which led to mass killings, rape and conversion of Bengali hindus causing them to flee East Pakistan and migrate to India.
8. 1967-69 and then from 1977 onwards – Industry closure Khela by the Communists of Bengal. While the Communists were a part of the Ajoy Mukherjee – led United Front govt of West Bengal between 1967-69 and after they came to power by themselves in 1977, they totally destroyed the industrial fabric of Bengal, which was built up under the able leadership of Dr. B. C. Roy as the 2nd Chief Minister of Bengal and Dr. S. P. Mukherjee as the Minister for Industry and Supply in J.L. Nehru’s Cabinet. The incessant labourer movements and frequent ‘hartals’ or strikes led to decrease in productivity. Moreover, the highhandedness of the labour union leaders affiliated to the Communist Party labour unions, in dealing with the executives of the various industries, led to fear and apprehension amongst the managerial staff as well as the industry owners causing them to exit Bengal. Several industries closed shop, the most noteworthy amongst them being the renowned Ambassador car making factory at Hind Motors and the Dunlop factory at Sahagunj – both at Hooghly. The vacant factory premises along the entire stretch of Taratalla in South West Kolkata are a sad recollection of an era when the vicinity was abuzz with industrial activity. Gradually the Bengali youth started migrating from Bengal in search of greener pastures both within India and abroad, in the process converting Bengal into an Old Age Home, where the elderly are often compelled to breathe their last without being able to take a last look at their children – the most painful ‘Khela’ that they have been subjected to by the apathetic and industry unfriendly political rulers of Bengal.
9. Exit of the TATAs from Bengal Khela by the TMC and the Leftist Intellectuals Combine in 2008 – In 2006, the TATAs had started construction of a factory at Singur, Hooghly for manufacture of their much awaited small car, Nano on 997 acres of multi-crop land acquired by the Left Front government at that time, citing an archaic law of 1894. Some of the farmers, who were unwilling to part with their land, were brought into the fold of the major opposition party of Bengal at that time, the TMC and the leftist intellectuals like Medha Patkar, Aparna Sen, Kaushik Sen and Arundhati Roy, who have, by now acquired the reputation of permanent ‘Andolonjivis’ or nuisance makers causing them to indulge in long and aggressive movement to get back their land. Their leader was one Becharam Manna, a TMC loyalist, who is the TMC candidate from the very Singur during the upcoming Assembly elections. Their movement disrupted the factory construction compelling the TATAs, the most reputed brand in our country to exit from Bengal after two years of construction activity. The exit of the TATAs caused the image of Bengal to take a severe beating casting a death knell on future industrial investments. The movement catapulted the TMC, led by Mamata Banerjee to power in the 2011 Assembly elections and they are in power in Bengal till date. Though the farmers have got their plots of land back vide a Supreme Court Order in 2016, the same remained uncultivable and the people of Singur plunged into deep misery, unable to perform agricultural activities on the one hand and the lack of employment on the other.
10. ‘Khela’ on all spheres by the incumbent TMC government – The ten years of TMC rule witnessed zero industrial investment in Bengal despite Industrial summits in the state being an annual affair, crime against women being heard of every other day with real time data being unavailable since the same has not been provided to the NCB for the last two years and decline in the health services, laid thread bare specifically during the peak of the Covid pandemic with visuals of extremely unclean hospital wards and basic amenities missing, were flashed everywhere in electronic and social media. Political murders are a routine affair in the state with the news of BJP karyakartas being brutally killed and hung from trees or lamp posts, pouring in, almost everyday – political dissent being a strict ‘No!No!’in West Bengal. More than 130 BJP karyakartas have been killed in a span of 1.5 years in the most grotesque of manners, reminiscent of the terror-ridden lands of the Middle East.
11. Minority Appeasement Khela – Appeasement of the minority community seems to be the primary mantra of the ruling party of Bengal. Such is the obsession with appeasement of minorities, who are believed to be the dedicated vote bank of the TMC, that the CM, Mamata Banerjee had commented during a Press Meet in 2019, that ‘They are our milch cows. Hence we do not mind being even kicked by them.One of the most horrifying and heart wrenching episodes of such appeasement occurred in September 2018, when two students in their teens, Rajesh Sarkar and Tapas Burman, were shot dead, allegedly by the police when they were protesting against the induction of an Urdu teacher in place of a Bengali teacher, a long pending recruitment in their school at Daribhit in North Dinajpur.
There has been an instance where the High Court had to be moved seeking permission for Durga Visarjan on the stipulated day, since the same was stopped on the Vijaya Dashami day by the incumbent government as it clashed with Muharram. Inhabitants of certain villages located in the districts bordering West Bengal, viz, Haroa village in Basirhat, allege that the local schools are prevented from performing Saraswati Puja as the same disturbs the sizeable Islamist population of the village. This is coupled with abject ‘secularisation’ of the Durga Puja, giving it the garb of a carnival rather than a hindu religious festival with murtis of Maa Durga, the epitome of Shakti appearing weaponless in various pandals across Bengal – even ‘azaan’ was chanted at a Durga Puja organized by a TMC MLA in 2019, much to the chagrin of the quintessential hindu of Bengal. Another instance of such appeasement was the imposition of Sharia in a village in Murshidabad, in full sight of the administration – the story evoking horror amongst all when it went viral on social media or the ominous disquiet of the administration during the torching of trains and disrupting normal activities in the name of anti CAA protests.
12. Khela of violence, terror and despair – Bomb going off killing people including children are no longer a matter of surprise here, nor are stories of terrorists from the most infamous terrorist organizations of the world, like Al Qaeda, being arrested from Bengal. The recent fear factor has been the news of buildings and tenements being gutted by fire, at frequent intervals.
13. Last but not the least is the Khela of unemployment and corruption – With no heavy industries making Bengal their base, unemployment rules the roost here. Even if we leave aside employment in the private sector, even government jobs are hard to come by with the netas and musclemen of the ruling party demanding bribes to the tunes of a few lakhs to ‘sell’ such jobs. Teachers’ recruitment have not taken place for years since the TMC came to power due to legal wrangles. The sight of agitating teachers is common in Kolkata streets these days. The tale of corruption is not limited to government job recruitment but also in school and college admissions. ‘Cut money’ and ‘Tolabaji’ are the terms that define the current ruling dispensation of Bengal where the local TMC affiliated goons have to be paid a hefty sum of money if one wishes to construct a building or start a kirana shop in any area. Such cut money is allegedly demanded from people who receive the various government subsidies which they are usually entitled yo receive. The TMC goons have also been accused of stealing food grains meant to be distributed to the poor during the Covid pandemic and also the relief material meant for the poor when their homes wete destroyed during the ‘Amphan’ cyclone.
With so much brutal and blood-soaked ‘Khela’ being inflicted on the people of Bengal, what more ‘khela’ can they be threatened with. Bengal has survived all such khelas and is now looking forward to a new, resurgent and developed Bengal at par with the rest of India under a nationalist government that it aspired for. It is for the Bengali populace to make it ‘Game over’ or ‘Khela Sesh’ for the destructive forces and look forward to Progress and development.