A day after the polls, septuagenarian Mustafa Gayen is a broken man. “They didn’t kill only my son, they killed his young wife and two children too,” he says. Tahibur (28) was killed when armed miscreants bombed a polling booth in Amdanga on Monday.
Tahibur’s mother’s cries could be heard several metres from their Amdanga home. Holding on to her was her widowed daughterin-law. The women, visibly shocked, were barely able to speak coherently.
“Our family is known here as CPM supporters,” Mustafa said. “I, too, was with the party for 25 years. It’s been only two years that my health has not permitted me to step out of home. The years that I did politics, I knew all the opposition leaders too. And my son too followed in my footsteps. Ask anyone in the village about him and they will say he never got into any trouble. “Yes, he had gone to the polling booth. His only insisted that all villagers should be able to cast their votes peacefully. For that, they hurled bombs, killing him. He had campaigned for the Independent candidate here. I still do not know what his fault was. He has two minor children — a son and a daughter — and a young wife. It isn’t one life they took away, they actually took away four lives.”
According to a local, Tahibur was targeted by armed miscreants as he was involved in electioneering for CPM-backed Independent candidate Abdul Kader. “It was around 8am when the locals gathered at booth No. 71 at Panchpota primary school to cast their votes. A group of 15 to 20 men, covering their faces with black cloth, started hurling bombs indiscriminately. But Tahibur was determined to cast his vote. As he tried to enter the booth, the goons hurled bombs at least thrice at him,” Kader said.
‘Hope leaders stand by us when we need them most’
Mihir Mondal said many leaders had visited the hospital on Monday after the death of his father Tapan, a BJP supporter. “Today, no one called; we are very scared,” said Mihir, who is in his early 20s. Tapan was killed when armed miscreants shot him, trying to scare people away from a booth near his home at Beldanga’s Kumarpur.
Mihir and his younger brother Asit, who’s passed HS, returned home from the local crematorium on Tuesday afternoon. Mihir also lodged an FIR, naming eight ruling party politicians. “When we reached the hospital on Monday, we couldn’t even find a place. BJP leaders and supporters had gathered there. We had to stand for several minutes before we got to see his body,” Mihir said. “Advised by the leaders, we lodged an FIR,” he added.
On Tuesday, however, no leader visited their home. Neither did they call them. “My father was an active BJP supporter. On Monday, he had merely stepped out of home and got caught in the firing and bombing. Our family supports BJP and we will continue to do so. We have already paid a heavy price for it,” he said. “But it also makes us anxious that we have lodged an FIR against senior politicians here. We hope the party stands by us when we need them the most,” he said.
Mihir ekes out a living by running odd errands. “My father was a cultivator. He has some land,” he said. Asit had cleared HS but was not sure what to do now. Tapan’s two daughters are married.
“We are waiting for the police to act against my father’s murderers,” Asit said.
No complaint against anyone: RBU post-grad’s mom
The parents of Sanjit Pramanik (27) realised on Tuesday that they didn’t even know where the keys to their almirah had been kept. Their only son, also known as Bubai, took care of their every need. The grieving parents had to break open the almirah to take out some money. Pramanik was killed on Monday near a booth after his political opponents, mostly tribals, attacked him with spears and arrows.
Relatives and locals thronged the Pramanik household in Shantipur’s Sarbanandapara throughout Tuesday. The history post-graduate from Rabindra Bharti University recently started working at the office of Shantipur MLA Arindam Bhattacharya, writing letters and certificates. His body was taken to the office late on Monday where Bhattacharya paid his last respects.
Sanjit’s parents, however, refused to resonate the anger among locals against the MLA. Locals claimed it was the MLA who had asked Sanjit to go to the booth in the tribal-dominated Babla village of Shantipur, where he was lynched.
The MLA, however, said that the party workers had gone there only for some logistical work. Bhattacharya alleged some people were trying to instigate the locals against him.
“We have no complaint against anyone. We look up to the MLA as our elder brother,” Sanjit’s mother Lily said. “We are poor. We faced a lot of hardship to bring him up. But I had told him not to join politics. He told me the MLA had assured him a job,” she added.