Overcoming many hardships & untold terror, the resilient people of Bengal turned out at the Brigade on 9th February, 2014. The mammoth crowds created history. People from all parts of the state joined to make the Brigade a success. What was noticeable, were the people from the areas where the Red Flag has been banned by unspeakable terror.
People had started to enter the city from Saturday night itself and spent their nights under the open sky, as the Yuba Bharati Krirangan was refused to them by the State government. Things got worse when the PHE even denied the supply of water. Overcoming all barriers, they turned the Brigade into a success.
Such enthusiasm and passion was heavily punished by the ruling party. At Tarakeshwar, Abhijit Bali, a SFI activist and his father Nishith Bali were almost beaten to death by the Trinamool goons, their home ransacked. In another incident, on the way to the rally, 16 participants suffered an accident at Keshtopur and were denied any treatment by the RG Kar Hospital, blatantly citing political bias. The buses booked for the brigades were fined heavily and threatened. The unorganized workers, in many areas, were stripped off their work and many more incidents have taken place all over Bengal that displayed nothing but the fascist-like mindset of the ruling party.
This Brigade was a boost to the confidence of the Left and its supporters and invoked in them a spirit to keep the Red Flag flying. They have started protesting. The move to censor the buses at Burnpur Bus-stand, even fining them Rs.1400/- was stopped by all the workers. They called a strike in which all buses participated. Six casual workers, loaders/unloaders at Diamond Beverages, Taratola had gone to the meeting. When they joined work on Monday, they were refused work, the management citing Trinamool censorship. The workers went ahead & had a dialogue with the management, asked them to correct the situation in day, failing which they will call a strike. Hamidil Gegen, a farmworker from Tehatta-1 block, Nadia has a new found confidence in his voice. He says that this rally has exceeded all his expectations, esp., the sight of an infant in the arm of a young bride, the other arm chaperoning her 70 year old mother-in-law. He adds the story of another one, whose father is admitted to a hospital, mother at his bedside. This man goes off to buy an urgently required medicine, travels three & a half hours by bus, attends the rally, comes back & then spends the night awake at his father’s bedside.
Bandana Midhya & Azizul Sheikh of Sunderbans has a different tale to recount. They have become VIPs with villagers who could not attend the rally wanting to hear about it. They are even plied with tea in order to coax them to share the Brigade experience. Chandranath Pike, a resident of Shonachura, Nandigram has an impassioned tremble in his voice. He says with unmistakable passion, ‘I have been driven out of my village. I had to come early, in secret. I was a bit nervous about the turnout in the morning, when the grounds were still empty. But, as the day progressed, all that apprehension was cast aside. The pain of homelessness was gone. With so many people with us, the will to fight back has been strengthened.
It is neighbouring Keshpur, where Trinamool terror is at its peak, that provides the motif of change. It’s after a long time that the Red Flag flutters again, symbolic of the new found spirit in terrorised people of Bengal.