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Bangladesh Book Fair: Sheikh Muzibur Rahaman very much alive in Bengali hearts

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By Arnab Mitra


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Kolkata: ‘The Unfinished Memoirs’, an autobiography by Sheikh Muzibur Rahaman, was the main attraction of this year’s Bangladesh Book Fair (September 5-September 13) in Kolkata. The book tells about the atrocities of the then Pakistan Government on the people of Bangladesh and how the fight of 10 lakh Bengalis for the respect of their mother tongue gave birth to Bangladesh on December 16, 1971.

The book was written by Muzibur Rahaman when he was in prison between 1967 and 1969. But after his assassination, the copy slid into oblivion, coming into limelight again in 2004 after its recovery from the room of his associate, Sheikh Moni. It took 8 years to give a final shape to the book and it was finally published in 2012 with the collaboration of the Penguin Publication.

But due to some problem with the publication house, the book was not available in the city since it gained popularity in 2012. The people of Kolkata were glad to gain access to Muzibur Rahaman’s rare memories  and they appreciated the effort by the Bangladesh High Commission to make the book available in the city.

NewsGram talked to a few people at the fair, and they were very much delighted to have an opportunity to read his autobiography. School-goer Sumana Bannerjee said, “My parents witnessed the genocide during the Bangladesh independence movement; the book will help me reconcile their memories”.

On September 12, the commission arranged a discussion on the life and contribution of Muzibur Rahaman in the Bangladesh independence movement. The panelists talked about his contribution and they agreed that the recent condition in Bangladesh was not the way Rahaman dreamt of. “Bangabandhu is still remembered for his immense dedication and effort behind the independence of Bangladesh”, said noted writer Sirshendu Mukherjee.

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Rising Communalism, Strained Socio-Political Conditions and Lackadaisical Administration Leading to Hike in Hooliganism in Kolkata

According to retired IPS officer Md Nizam Shamim, hooliganism is rising as the criminals are getting adequate backing from political outfits

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kolkata, hooliganism
Policeman facing women in a protest march, Calcutta Kolkata India. Wikimedia Commons

Kolkata has witnessed a string of hooliganism related incidents in recent months, with its long time denizens putting the blame on rising communalism, strained socio-political conditions and a lackadaisical attitude of the administration in catching or punishing the ruffians.

While many of the violent incidents in Kolkata can be attributed to the political tension between Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress and its main challenger the BJP, a few occurrences like lynching of a suspected thief or attack on the junior doctors of a renowned state-run hospital in the heart of the city have shaken the city’s collective consciousness.

On June 5, a mob allegedly beat a man to death inside a club in central Kolkata’s Maniktala after they suspected him as a thief. In March, a 70-year-old man was allegedly beaten to death by a mob on a similar suspicion.

On June 10, two truckloads of people attacked Kolkata’s state-run NRS Medical College and Hospital and brutally beat up the intern doctors, thereafter an altercation broke out between the doctors and the patient party over a man’s death.

Two junior doctors sustained serious injuries, while several others were hurt as the mob pelted stones. The junior doctors alleged that the police personnel stood as mute witness as the attackers went on the rampage. This incident led to a week-long strike by junior medicos across the state and triggered protests by doctors all over the country.

The plight of the doctors moved the city’s eminent people, with the likes of acclaimed director Aparna Sen, painter Samir Aich, musicians Debojyoti Mishra and Anupam Roy walking alongside the medics in a protest rally.

hooliganism, kolkata
According to the media reports it is evident that communal tension, which was never an issue in West Bengal, has now become almost a day to day affair. Wikimedia Commons

The attack on former Miss India Universe Ushoshi Sengupta by a group of youths in their early 20s, who tried to vandalise her cab and beat up the driver earlier this week, has highlighted the underlying unrest within the society and the vulnerability of the citizens on the roads.

What was more disturbing, the cops – instead of helping out a woman in distress around midnight – made Sengupta run from one police station to another citing the issue of jurisdiction. Describing the incident as “scary and heartbreaking”, Sengupta said it would have been better had the police taken action before her social media post went viral.

“The boys followed us till my colleague’s house and right when we were dropping him near Lake Gardens Government housing, six of the boys in three bikes came and stopped my car, threw stones and broke the car. They dragged me out and tried to break my phone to delete the video,” the model-actress said.

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“The experience with the police on the night of the incident was a little heartbreaking. After my Facebook post went viral, top police officers got in touch with me and took prompt action against the offenders. Had they shown this promptness during the incident, it would have been better,” she said.

Within a week of the incident, another young woman travelling in an app based cab was chased by a middle aged person in his car. This time, the accused was promptly arrested by the police. However, in stark contrast, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics for 2016 (the latest report available) had portrayed Kolkata as one of the safest cities for women in the country, even as Bengal recorded the highest number of cases of domestic violence.

The city is ranked 17th in terms of crime (the top place going to the state with the worst record) against women among the 19 megacities in the country, and recorded only 4 per cent of the cases but West Bengal recorded the highest numbers of domestic violence cases against women in 2016.

According to retired IPS officer Md Nizam Shamim, hooliganism is rising as the criminals are getting adequate backing from political outfits. “It is true that the hooliganism in Kolkata and Bengal is rising. According to the media reports it is evident that communal tension, which was never an issue in West Bengal, has now become almost a day to day affair. Naturally, such issues happening around Kolkata, has its effects on the city,” Shamim told IANS.

kolkata, hooliganism
What was more disturbing, the cops – instead of helping out a woman in distress around midnight – made Sengupta run from one police station to another citing the issue of jurisdiction. Wikimedia Commons

“When I was working here as a police officer, we acted against the criminals in general but no distinction was made between Hindu criminals and Muslim criminals. But now certain political powers are highlighting this divide. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for the lawmakers to take action as criminals get political backing,” he said.

He said the administration needs to be more active in tracking the hooligans, take action against them while sensitising the youths about the impact of breaking law.

“Also a list of the local criminals and hoodlums were kept at the police stations and they were kept under strict police vigil. I do not know whether today’s officers are doing that. Unless you can cut the source of bombs and arms, such incidents of violence will continue to happen.”

“A section of youths are becoming increasingly reckless due to lack of education and jobs. I see so many of them roaming around in two wheelers without helmets every day. Many indulge in anti-social activities. The police needs to watch them and discourage them from breaking laws,” he added.

Theatre personality Chandan Sen said hooliganism has been on the rise due to the lack of a proper machinery to co