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Friday, May 3, 2024

Bijon Setu massacre - 42 years on, Ananda Margis await justice in West Bengal

Immediately on the aftermath of Tsunami, SYMA volunteers were doing relief work at Cuddalore.  On that night we met 6 people clad in saffron – who had travelled all the way from Bengal.  When queried what they will do -  one of them said, anything that would bring some relief, be it providing chapatis, helping in construction or merely being with them at their hour of distress. To another Q how long would they stay – he retorted – no specific date, till date, we feel, we are of some use here !!  - Anand Margis ! (they were)

Bijon Setu is a bridge situated above Ballygunge Junction railway station connects EM Bypass through Kasba with Gariahat, in West Bengal.  The bridge is named after a Bengali engineer Bijon Basu of  Calcutta Improvement Trust. On 2 August 1974, while he was returning home from Santoshpur to Sealdah, a gang of robbers got on the train and looted passengers. Basu protested but the robbers stabbed him and threw him out from the running train beside Ballygunge railway station.  The bridge was built  in 1978

West Bengal has seen lot of violence of all kinds and there have been brutal massacres aimed at Hindus in particular.

Ānanda Mārga (lit.'The Path of Bliss'), is a world-wide socio-spiritual organisation founded in Jamalpur, Munger, Bihar, India, in 1955 by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, known as Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. It is also the name of the philosophy and life-style propounded by Sarkar, described as a practical means of personal development and the transformation of society. It is established in more than 180 countries across the world. Its motto is Ātmamokśārtha jagaddhitāya ca (Self-Realisation and Service to the Universe). Tantra yoga, as interpreted by Sarkar, serves as the foundation of Ananda Marga.  The basis of Ananda Marga practice is covered by a set of rules called the 'Sixteen Points' that guide the practitioner on both spiritual and social aspects. It consist of yoga asanas, mudras, bandhas, pranayama, self-massage and two specific dances, kaos'ikii and tandava.  

Ananda Marga Pracharaka Samgha (AMPS) have been fighting for justice for more than 42 years now, demanding stern action against those involved in the killing of its 17 monks and nuns.  On 30 April, 1982, 17 monks and nuns belonging to AMPS were burnt to death by CPM goons in broad daylight on Bijon Setu.

FIR was lodged against Somnath Chatterjee, Sachin Sen, Kanti Gangopdhyay among others. The Left Front government did not do anything and no one was arrested. On 30 April, 1982 some monks and nuns who had come to the city to attend a conference at AMPS headquarters at Tiljala, were accosted on Bijon Setu by the CPM goons. They were dragged out of their vehicles, doused in kerosene and set on fire. The CPM alleged that the monks and nuns were involved in child lifting.  After four decades of the Bijon Setu massacre, the rulers of West Bengal have not initiated any action against the killers.   Although the attacks were carried out in broad daylight, no arrests were ever made. After repeated calls for a formal judicial investigation, a single-member judicial commission was set up in 2012 to investigate the killings.

Violence on Hindus in Bengal is not new – remember Noakhali riots of 1946 when Hindus were targeted, years later in 1967, attack on Margis occurred at their Purulia Global headquarters were 5 of their members were killed allegedly by CPI M goons.  A couple of years later, Cooch Behar congregation of Anand Margis was attacked.  

Jyoti Basu, the chief minister in Bengal at the time of the murders, and his police force were accused of inaction,  decades later,  he formed the Deb Commission in response to the pressure. Ananda Margis had no faith in the commission because Kanti Ganguly and other prominent CPI(M) leaders were accused in this incident.  The National Human Rights Commission took up the investigation in 1996, but did not make much progress, allegedly due to interference from the state government.  In 1999, the Ananda Marga Pracharaka Samgha (AMPS) demanded a high-level judicial probe led by a working Supreme Court judge into the mass killing of Ananda Margis.  On 30 April 2004, Ananda Marga held the first rally in Calcutta commemorating the massacre without the need to acquire a court order for permission; their protests continues every year as justice still eludes !

After the Trinamool Congress came to power, a single-member judicial commission under the supervision of Amitabh Lala, a former judge of the Calcutta High Court, was formed in March 2012 to investigate the killings after repeated appeals for a formal judicial inquiry.  Jyoti Basu was to say – what can be done, such things do happen !.   Commies hated the  Ananda Margis because they opposed them ideologically and the reprisal was killings.  How sad !!  When Trinamul Congress government came to power in 2011, Justice Amitabh Lala Commission was and  filed its report in 2019 but still today, the report has not been released by the West Bengal government.

Homage to those who lost their lives in the violence and those who have been silenced by the goons.

With regards – S Sampathkumar.
3rd May 2024. 

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