In early 1979, around 40,000 hungry, starving and desperate Bengalis took shelter on the island of Marichjhapi in the Sunderbans of West Bengal. They were Hindu refugees who had fled persecution in East Pakistan, which had recently become Bangladesh. The Govt of West Bengal had refused to take any responsibility for them, forcing them to flee into the dense forest of the Sunderbans.
Then, at the end of January 1979, they came. The West Bengal Police arrived in launch boats and took control of the network of waterways that made up the Hooghly river delta. The island was now completely surrounded. The 40,000 people on it had no way to access food or medicine.
On the morning of Jan 31, the police opened fire on the starving Hindu refugees. Indiscriminately. They evacuated the island. Nobody knows how many human beings died that day. Because the Govt of West Bengal never published an official death toll.
Who was the Chief Minister that ordered this atrocity? Jyoti Basu.
In a sane world, Jyoti Basu would have had to step down immediately. He would probably have been arrested. But none of that happened. At the time he resigned as CM of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu had made history as India’s longest serving Chief Minister.
Jyoti Basu is the mass murderer that history forgot. Today is his birthday. He has been dead for a while now. As Hitchens would have said, it’s a shame that there is no hell for him to go to.
Jyoti Basu was born on July 8, 1914 in Calcutta. Like most Communist icons, he was male, upper caste and from a privileged family. From his kindergarten years, he attended schools such as Loreto and Xavier’s, run by British Burra Sahibs for their own and their camp followers. Then, he made the transition from British elite schools in India to elite colleges in England, becoming a barrister.
It is not hard to see why Jyoti Basu could not feel any sympathy for 40,000 starving Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. Our woke historians would do well to notice that most of these refugees also happened to be Dalits.
That’s what Communism is. Preach about the poor and hungry in public so that you can keep your privilege in private. And then count on left wing myth makers, posing as historians, to whitewash history for you.
Just after the 1962 war, Jyoti Basu proclaimed publicly at a rally that “China cannot be the aggressor.”
If his politics was traitorous, his reign was bloody. In fact, in 1997, Bengal’s Home Minister admitted on the floor of the Assembly that 28,000 political murders had happened in West Bengal since the beginning of Jyoti Basu’s rule. Imagine what the real number was.
Even the official figure of 28,000 murders did not cause a stir. It did not even scratch his legacy. Because the Communist leader had the historians and the intellectuals on his side.
In fact, the year before, when the 1996 General Election threw up a badly hung Parliament, consensus had emerged among India’s secular parties that the “venerable” Jyoti Basu should take over as Prime Minister. It was Jyoti Basu’s enemies within his own party who stopped him. That’s how close India came to having a Prime Minister who had massacred refugees, systematically eliminated tens of thousands of dissenters and propagated China’s official line in the 1962 war.
Now you’ve probably heard that Jyoti Basu’s economic policies led to business and industry fleeing the state. Did you know that’s just propaganda from “reactionary forces” opposed to the “people’s revolution”?
Allow me to introduce you to Chandan Basu. That’s Jyoti babu’s son. To which country did Jyoti Babu send his son to continue the struggle for workers rights? Vietnam or Guatemala?
Not exactly. Jyoti Basu’s son actually became an industrialist. He must have been a star in the world of business, recommended by banks for loans from agencies under the WB government and contracts from top corporates.
Papa as Communist CM of West Bengal. Son as a big businessman who gets recommended for big loans from the West Bengal Financial Corporation. Together they should have won a Padma Vibhushan for presenting a model of honesty to the nation.
How did all this become possible? Because Jyoti Basu had the right people on his side. The journalist, intellectuals, poets, historians, everyone. Not like modern times where somebody throws a stone at a Navi Mumbai church and the next day the New York Times starts howling about “intolerance.”
They say don’t speak ill of the dead. It’s a decent thumb rule. But what if there are there tens of thousands, if not lakhs of dead people who have been victims of one man? The victims deserve to be heard as well. At least as much as the celebrity journos who call the police on Twitter (instead of dialing 100) to complain about threats from internet trolls.
So, please don’t feel bad about speaking ill of the Late Jyoti Basu. If there is another world, be certain that there are (at least) 28,000 voices from the other side backing you up.