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It has been a year since Bengal post poll violence, but the scars remain: Victims share their plight with OpIndia, blame Mamata Banerjee

"Mamata Banerjee killed my brother. Everything was happening at her behest," said Biswajeet, the brother of Avijit Sarkar, who was assassinated on May 2, 2021, after he shared a video on Facebook detailing the horrifying account of brutality he endured at the hands of TMC goons.

Following the Assembly elections in May 2021, the state of West Bengal saw phenomenal anarchy and bloodshed. Several BJP activists were attacked, intimidated, and killed during the Trinamool Congress-sponsored bloodbath. After the Trinamool Congress (TMC) won the West Bengal Vidhan Sabha elections, party thugs went mad and attacked BJP members in the state.

OpIndia reached out to some of the victims of the violence and spoke with them about their horrific experiences, which they claim were overtly sponsored by West Bengal’s state apparatus. Listening to the people’s and their families’ anguish, the amount of pain these people went through and are currently going through in West Bengal was evident.

When speaking, all of the victims attributed the entire sequence of occurrences to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, stating that their only fault was that they were affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Throughout the talk, they all said unambiguously that being a BJP voter is a crime and being a BJP Party Worker is a sin in Bengal. It is just by offering one’s life, that one is absolved of one’s sins.

Sangeeta Yadav, wife of Joy Prakash Yadav

The OpIndia team met Sangeeta Yadav, the wife of Joy Prakash Yadav, who was murdered by TMC henchmen on June 6, 2021.

Sangeeta said that she was not at home when the incident occurred because, after the elections, her husband dropped her and the children at the maternal house out of fear. “I took my children to my parents’ house, but my son returned with my spouse. We were terrified for days since we were aware of all the violence against BJP activists in Bengal,” she stated.

BJP Bengal on Twitter: "Violence continues after the elections in West  Bengal! TMC miscreants bombed and killed BJP activist Shri Joy Prakash Yadav  in Barrackpore. Many false cases have been filed against
Joy Prakash Yadav.

She added that when her husband returned from the salon on June 6, 2021, there were 5-6 individuals waiting outside her house. “As soon as my husband arrived home, they began bickering and taunting him since the BJP had lost the election. They stated that they will bomb the entire family and end the game today. My husband then begged them to go without making noise”, she went on to say, adding that the assailants also admitted to being sent by TMC leaders Lallan Singh and Chandan Singh.

As per Sangeeta, they then threw a bomb on the face of her husband. The attack resulted in the immediate death of her husband in front of their son. Her mother in law also faced injuries and the explosion damaged her both ears.

Sangeeta also mentioned that, strangely, instead of coming to them and assisting them, the police went to the residence of Chandan Singh and Lallan Singh after the incident. The cops arrived at her home after visiting the TMC leaders. Furthermore, the perpetrators were not immediately apprehended but were being treated in a hospital at the cost of the government. “This is Mamata Banerjee’s Bengal, where a bereaved family, an unwell mother, and a widow are left to mourn while criminals are treated with public funds,” she remarked, her eyes crimson and filled with tears of profound grief and agony.

Sangeeta Yadav with her daughter.

Sangeeta said that she still gets threats to drop the case otherwise everyone in the family shall be killed. The main accused, Chandan Singh and Lallan Singh have yet not been arrested. She said that after the case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation, she is hopeful that she will get justice.

Srikanta Khetarpal, brother of Kush Khetarpal

Srikanta Khetrapal is the brother of Kush Khetrapal who was killed by TMC goons in West Bengal. Kush went missing on May 5, 2021, after which his dead body was found a couple of days after.

Srikanta described how her 26-year-old brother Kush Khetrapal was subjected to the horrors of TMC goons as a result of his support for the BJP. Srikanta stated that Kush worked at a hotel and was frequently approached by TMC members Kanan Khetrapal, Sukumar Khetrapal, and Dilip Khetrapal when the former came from work. They had warned Kush of grave repercussions if he did not join TMC.

Srikanta Khetrapal

In response to the threat from the aforementioned TMC employees, the hotel owner stated that Kush was not permitted to work and that if he wanted to work, he should first apologise to the TMC workers. On that day, May 6, as Kush was on his way to the TMC office to apologise, TMC employees and others forcibly abducted him.

Kush’s body was discovered two days later, on May 8, at 5 PM, near the Baishtam pond. There were several minor injuries to the body as well as a significant incision on the skull, with the left ear gone completely.

Also, once the body was discovered, the police took it into custody, and soon after the autopsy, the body was cremated with the assistance of the aforementioned TMC leaders. The police and TMC goons also forcefully took his mother Bandana Khetrapal’s thumb impression on a blank piece of paper and utilised it to their advantage.

Kush was one of the three brothers in his family. He has a daughter. The family is struggling to meet daily needs as a working person is no more in the family.

Biswajeet Sarkar, brother of Avijit Sarkar

OpIndia interviewed Biswajeet Sarkar, the brother of Avijit Sarkar, who was assassinated by hundreds of TMC goons on May 2, 2021. Avijit Sarkar took to Facebook on Sunday (May 2) to share the horrifying account of brutality he endured at the hands of TMC goons.

The footage was posted just hours before he was lynched by the attackers. Biswajeet said that on the morning of May 2, TMC workers loaded in SUVs rushed to our local party office and surrounded it. “They surrounded the office, the NGO, and the temple after which they started hurling bombs all around. They even broke the gates of the temple and looted the donation box. They broke all the CCTV cameras around and as we rushed to escape, they dragged me and my mother and used the wire of the CCTV camera to suffocate us,” he said.

The NGO of Avijit Sarkar.

He further added that as some of them were torturing them, others dragged his brother and crushed his head with a big stone. “Avijit died at the moment. We saw him die in front of our eyes,” he stated wiping out his tears. “They also took out a pistol to shoot us but we anyhow managed to escape and saved our lives,” he added.

He said that even police were present at the spot and watching the whole incident. When asked about the perpetrators, Biswajeet said, “I gave all names to the police but they did not act. TMC MLA Paresh Pal and local councillor Sapan Samaddar openly said on the day of polling that on the day of the results, they will kill us. Everybody witnessed it. I clearly heard the goons talking to each other that they had an open hand from Paresh Da and Sapan Da to kill them.” He said that they even said that the Officer In charge of the local police station gave them a free hand to kill them.

Also, his mother was deceivingly made to sign 5 blank sheets by the police after Biswajeet was arrested and his brother was killed. “They made her sign papers and lodged a false FIR that 2-3 people came to our house and a scuffle broke down. They registered only one case under section 307 and that too was when my brother was dead,” he said.

Biswajeet alleged that the whole police department was responsible for his death and they even filed cases to deny the death of his brother. However, the actual case was registered through court.

Biswajeet Sarkar

“They are still threatening to kill me. As I speak about the murder of my brother, they threaten my mother saying that there will be ‘Khela Hobe’ with me,” he said adding that he doesn’t fear anyone.

“Mamata Banerjee killed my brother. Everything was happening at her behest,” Biswajeet stated angrily.

Gautam Halder, husband of Chandana Halder

Gautam Halder is the husband of Chandana Halder who was beaten to death by TMC goons on 2 July in West Bengal’s South 24 Parhgana district. They are residents of Ramchandarpur Village which falls under the Satgachhia Vidhan Sabha constituency of West Bengal. Speaking to OpIndia, Gautam said that he and his wife bother were BJP workers.

Gautam stated that on July 2, while his cousin brother Swarup Halder was on his way back home, TMC goons attacked him and beat him with sticks until he lost consciousness. They also warned anybody who could come to his help. “After knowing about Gautam being beaten, I and my wife rushed to see him. We reached there and managed an ambulance to send him to a hospital. As we reached there and sent my brother in the ambulance, the goons came back and attacked us. They beat us mercilessly,” he said.

Gautam said that as they managed to escape, the goons chased them and beat them in the way. “They hit us with everything they got in their hands. We did not understand what to do,” Gautam said. After the goons left, Gautam took his wife to the hospital nearby where she was declared dead.

We also spoke to Swarup Halder. It was visible that Swarup faced problems even when speaking at a low volume. “They broke my both jaws and bother legs. I don’t know what was my mistake. God knows,” Swarup said looking at the ceiling with desperate eyes.

Gautam now lives with his two sons, one 9-year-old and another 16-year-old. While talking about his visit to the national capital, Gautam informed that he had left his two sons in the custody of his sister. He conceded that he is fearful for their safety.

Ranjit Barai, son of Ramprasad Barai

Ramprasad Barai, a more than 70-year-old man, died under mysterious circumstances in January 2021. Ranjit Barai, one of the four sons of Ramprasad, explained the series of incidents to us.

They are residents of the Dinhata sub Division in the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. Ranjit said that his father was taken away by the police on the night of December 13, 2020. The reason behind the unlawful detention was entirely unclear as they rushed to their house at the midnight to take away a 72-year-old person.

“They broke 3 doors of my house and took away my ailing father with them. There was no case. They registered a case on January 1, 2021. All these days, the police illegally detained my father and did not even let us meet him. We did not even know if he was alive or dead,” stated Ranjit.

On January 13, the police forcefully took Ramprasad to the hospital on January 12, 2021. “They took him to the hospital on January 12. On January 13, they called and said that he is no more alive and we should go and take his dead body. I don’t know what happened. My father was a Shiva Bhakt his whole life,” Ranjit recalled.

Ramprasad Barai

“We don’t even know what happened to him,” said Ranjit angrily. He said that the condition of the Cooch Behar district is very bad.

Rituals being performed by sons of Ramprasad Barai.

Ranjit alleged that behind the death of his father, it was the Sitai constituency MLA Jagadish Chandra Barma. “The MLA threatened us to not say anything to the police. Police and the MLA were with each other. We still get death threats from them. You should know that Police went to my home 5 times to inquire where I am now,” said Ranjit.

The post mortem report of Ramchandra Barai.

Ranjit expressed his despondency, adding that he spends his nights in the woods because he is afraid of being killed. “If the police or TMC goons discover me at home in the middle of the night, they will kill me. They will surely kill me. This is why I go to the jungle every night since my father was killed and stay there till the sunrise,” concluded Ranjit.

Political violence in West Bengal by TMC henchmen is nothing new. TMC goons attacked BJP workers and leaders on a daily basis not just after the results of the 2021 assembly election, but also before and throughout the run-up to the 2019 national elections. Under TMC’s leadership, throwing petrol bombs, assaulting people, and even killings have become the norm in West Bengal. A year after the post-election violence, several BJP workers are still waiting for a safe atmosphere to return to their homes.

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