A 40-year-old massacre swept under the carpet

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This was a massacre in the heart of the city that was swept under the carpet. On Saturday evening, a procession of saffron clad men and women snaked its way towards Bijon Setu in south Kolkata to pay homage to 17 members of their Sect butchered there on April 30, 1982, exactly 40 years ago. The Ananda Margis have received no justice though a lot was promised by the Trinamool Congress after it came to power in West Bengal nearly 11 years ago.

“We are still awaiting justice. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had promised a lot but now she has distanced herself from us. A Commission was set up by her under Late Justice Amitava Lala. The report was also submitted to the Assembly but its findings have not been made public. We wonder whether some of those involved in the massacre are now close to the Trinamool Congress leadership,” an Ananda Marg spokesperson said.

On April 30, 1982, Ananda Marg Sanyasis and Sanyasins were on their way to an educational camp in Tiljala in Kolkata.

Suspected CPI-M goons dragged out 16 Sanyasis and a Sanyasin from taxis at three locations (close to each other) and butchered them. Their bodies were then dragged to Bijon Setu and piled up before being set ablaze. The Left Front government had then been in power for barely 5 years and chief minister Jyoti Basu had remarked how ‘such things happen’.

The Left ruled the state for 29 more years thereafter. The CPI-M had always considered the Ananda Margis as a threat and several leaders maintained thereafter that the killings were justified to prevent the Order from growing and spreading its ‘political’ message.

A researcher in political science pointed to how news of the Bogtui massacre of Rampurhat, Birbhum that occurred on March 21 this year, has already started disappearing from the main pages of newspapers.

“People’s memory is short. In six months, people will forget all about Bogtui. Just as an entire generation has passed after the massacre on Bijon Setu. Youngsters today don’t even know that such a thing happened and the the elderly are too tired to talk about it,” he said.

Senior journalist Ashok Sengupta has carried out a lot of research on the subject. He says how the CPI-M leadership had actually held a meeting a few days before the killings to discuss ways to deal with the Ananda Margis.

“Not only the Bijon Setu massacre, there have been several violent killings in the state for which the perpetrators were never brought to book. Take the Sainbari killings for instance. Many CPI-M leaders, allegedly involved in the brutality, held plum posts in the party later. I have spoken to the Ananda Margis and they are a disappointed lot,” he said.

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