Bogtui News: Bogtui is not a West Bengal production of West Side Story

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Fun fact: The village of Bogtui in West Bengal is 5,675 km from the city of kyiv in Ukraine and 220 km from everyone’s “City of Joy”, that urban metropolitan bubble called Kolkata. It lies in the mid-western part of a state that is not only fiercely ‘secular’, but views the rest of India, especially the ‘cow belt’, as uneducated, communal, castrated, regressive and unfamiliar with tastes. from Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray and mulligatawny soup. Non-funny facts follow.

On Monday evening, Trinamool Congress panchayat pradhan deputy from nearby Barshal village, Bhadu Sheikh, was murdered in a bomb attack in Paschimpara (western district) of Bogtui where he lived. In India, such killings are committed by “miscreants”, a term which makes the killers, whether in a crowd or in a more “cautious” attack, look like vandals, eve-lighters or shoplifters.

An hour after Bhadu Sheikh’s murder, the village in Birbhum district was alive with the sound of bombs – “like in a war”, according to an unnamed resident – and the distinct sound of houses crackling in the fire. At 3 a.m., four burnt bodies were taken to Rampurhat Government Medical College in the local municipality. In another half hour, seven charred bodies were recovered from a burnt-out one-story pukka house belonging to Shona Sheikh, a Trinamool worker and one of those named in the FIR in relation to the Bhadu Sheikh murder. Almost all other houses in Purbapara (eastern district) of Bogtui belonging to Phatik Sheikh, Banirul Sheikh, Mahirul Sheikh, Sheikh Lal, Nek Lal and Palash Sheikh were burnt down. Among the eight burned alive were six women and one child.

Such “low-level” incidents of carnage – deaths “not even double digits” – are not uncommon in West Bengal, let alone in India. But such is the current political climate, that violence along “community lines” is the only one that seems to cause outrage and concern. In Bogtui, these “usual” traits were absent.

For starters, the names of victims and alleged perpetrators – 11 people have been arrested so far – are filled with “sheikhs”. So this is not a mini Muzaffarnagar riot.

Then there is the issue of whether the original killing of Bhadu Sheikh as well as the alleged “revenge massacre” are linked to the same political group: the ruling party in the state. As well timed, State Cabinet Minister and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim on Tuesday afternoon said it was a plot to tarnish the state itself with an image of ‘”anarchy”. TMC General Secretary Kunal Ghosh did his part to point out that it wasn’t even violence: ‘The death of residents in a fire is sad. But this incident has no political connection. This is a local village dispute. The deputy head of the panchayat who was murdered was a well-known person and his death angered the villagers, which sparked a violent protest. As if paraphrasing a former prime minister, he seemed to be saying, “When a tree in our garden falls, the earth shakes.

But Bogtui is not a local West Side Story production. It doesn’t matter to those who died or to those who fear for their lives that Tuesday’s massacre was “politically linked” or the sad result of a “village dispute”. The fact that West Bengal’s policy of intimidation and protection – hafta by another name – has, over the decades, seeped into every nook and cranny of life in its villages and towns has ‘normalized’ this violence by giving it a “non-political” aspect. ‘.

With no opposition to speak of – hence the all-too-frequent and untimely gestures of Governor and former BJP MP and MP Jagdeep Dhankhar being part of the ‘Centre vs. State’ ritual of slagging – every attempt to rule law and order collapse or “political attacks” on the dock are brushed aside as a hopeless conspiracy fabricated by the opposition. What are the credentials of the TMC as secular protector against the communal big bad wolf allows for perpetuation – lest the “cowbelt” come home to West Bengal.

Bogtui has been locked down since Monday, with residents afraid not just to open their mouths but to be opening his mouth. The rule of local satraps – which ironically won the BJP its seat in the “local boy Suvendu Adhikari against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee” contest in Nandigram in the 2019 assembly elections – is absolute. Desperate families, like the surviving members of Shona Sheikh, who apparently planned to leave the Bogtui after Monday’s “first murder” awaiting retaliation, have left or are leaving. Much like the Pandit families of the Kashmir Valley once did.

As locals mutter something about a toxic rivalry within TMC for ‘control’ – Bhadu Sheikh, allegedly under the tutelage of TMC Birbhum District Chairman Anubrata Mandal, controlled the illegal sand and sand operations stone in the area and allegedly intimidated candidates from other parties in the February 27 municipal elections – Mandal said the fires started “probably from a television set that had shorted out in one of the houses”. His party did not follow this line of inquiry into faulty circuitry. But what happened in Bogtui will become just another “incident” in Bengal, steeped in culture.

The Union Home Office wants a “report within 72 hours” of the massacre. The brave people of Kolkata will, of course, balk at the idea of ​​presidential rule and flatter themselves that they are the “only Gallic village” resisting a communal empire of Delhi. While the heartbreaking images of Ukrainians under siege will make them want to do something, anything, from the safety of their homes 220 km from Bogtui.

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