Murder of Anis Khan—verdict of justice sheds mute and secret tears in TMC-ruled West Bengal
West Bengal was rocked in 2007 by the death of Rizwanur Rahman, a young vibrant IT specialist and teacher of a computer training institute, under mysterious circumstances. Rizwanur fell in love with Pryanka Todi, a young girl student of his institution who belonged to an influential Hindu family. They had married duly and legally. But under the spell of rising spate of communal, obscurantist, superstitious ideas, inter-religion marriage and that too between a middle class boy and a girl of multi-millionaire business group, did not go well with the girl’s parent and family. The girl was forcibly taken back from her in-laws’ house, by her father and uncles in clear connivance with police-administration of the then CPI (M) government. Within no time, Rizwanur’s body was recovered from the side of railway track miles away from his home and workplace. The police and government-administration tried to prove that it was a case of suicide but with no justifiable evidence.
The police story was endorsed by the girl’s family. More astonishingly, the then Kolkata police commissioner held a press conference where he termed Rizwan’s death a suicide framing up the possible modes and motives and arrogantly justified such naked interference by the police into the exclusively private matters of two adult citizens, terming it as a social act of relieving tension of parents whose ward might have married against the parents’ wills. To add here, he had been a police commissioner enjoying unstinted favour of none other than the then CPI (M) Chief Minister, who, apart from other favours, had referred to him, as ‘‘my candidate’’ in an election for the lucrative post of the president of Cricket Association of Bengal. This stirred up strong indignation and hatred among people, irrespective of religion or other differences, against the police, which had apparently acted well beyond their legal and constitutional jurisdiction of non-interference into personal matters of adult citizens, in this case a valid civil marriage. People were in no mood to meekly accept this criminal audacity of the Police and the ruling party and a protest movement of the civil society and all other aggrieved sections of the toiling masses surged forth. The other serious issue that evoked concern in right-thinking minds relates to the cultural aspect. It makes them wonder how in the cultural atmosphere of a state run by a party like CPI(M) boasting of leftism for long three decades, such an incident of harassing and threatening two adult individuals for undertaking a perfectly legal inter-religion marriage and finally bringing death, whether suicide or homicide, to one of them, could take place. But the CPI (M) government and the girl’s family spared no effort to hush up the incident and justice to the bereaved family has remained elusive till date.
After 15 years, another mysterious death of a young social activist has created a row. By this time, the governmental power has moved from the CPI (M) to the TMC who had been vociferous against the CPI (M) government over Rizwanur incident. 27 year old Anis Khan, a former student leader of Aliah University, a social and political activist, as well as a face of the anti-NRC-CAA movement was found dead on 19 February presumably due to a fall from the roof of his two-storied village home in the Amta police station area of Howrah district. His family members and neighbours are sure that he has been murdered. They are also suspecting involvement of local politicians and police in the murder. They have been alleging that Anis was thrown off the roof by three civic police volunteers, who ran up the stairs soon after his father Salem Khan opened the main gate on hearing them knock at 1.10 am on that fateful night, while the fourth cop in uniform blocked him at gun-point. Initially, the local Superintendent of Police denied any raid at Anis’ home. But after thunderous agitations by the villagers, human rights organizations, civil society and different student organisations and political parties including AIDSO and SUCI(C), the SIT (Special Investigation Team) formed by the TMC government to investigate the death, had to arrest a home-guard and a civic police volunteer. They were suspended and the Officer-in-charge of Amta P.S. was asked to go on leave for an indefinite period. Though the family members of Anis and protesters, even the kin of the arrested cops allege that they have been made scapegoats to shield some big names belonging to ruling (TMC) and guilty police officers. The two arrested cops have also confessed before the media that they only followed ‘the O.C’s order’ to go to Anis’ house at wee hour. A number of villagers allege that Anis drew the ire of few local leaders of the ruling party and also some policemen in recent years, as he raised his voice against whatever he perceived to be unfair and unjust. These, they said, included some questionable activities of some private nursing homes at Amta area during the Covid-19 pandemic. As Anis was becoming popular in that area, they wanted to silence his voice.
The TMC Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also in-charge of the home department, said: ‘‘We want an impartial investigation so that the truth is revealed. I do not want to interfere in any impartial investigation. It is being done because allegations have been raised against the police department. The government is very tough. Law will take its own course.’’ But, even after three weeks, no arrest has been made nor has any conclusive evidence about the nature of the death has been brought to the fore. The Test Identification (TI) parade was also conducted in such a way that Anis’ father could not identify anyone of those presented by the police. Law, itself, can not take its own course unless the custodians of law make the course operative. Just like Rizwanur incident, the government and the police authority seem to be engaged in suppressing the truth and buying time so that the row dies down and everything is consigned to oblivion. Such incidents are galore in the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and other states. In Congress-ruled West Bengal also, there were mass killings of allegedly ultra-left activists in the 1970s in Baranagar area of Kolkata where involvement of high ranking police officers was no secret. But no guilty was punished.
So, whether it is the BJP, or the Congress, or the CPI (M) or the TMC, the state-sponsored violence and killings go on unabated and justice continues to be wanting. Because, all these parties despite different hues are all having one objective—to ride to power and hold on to power by nakedly using police-administration and flexing muscle power with all criminals and anti-socials brought under their folds. And this power-mongering is typical of all political forces who are subservient to the vested class interest of the ruling bourgeoisie. The very capitalist system following inexorable course of history has now become decadent, moribund, utterly corrupt and out and out reactionary. So, it is trying to bring extra lease to its life by subverting all canons of democracy including law and barest of human rights. Order itself is disorder in dying capitalism. Hence, it is futile to expect justice from those who are footmen and watchmen of this worn-out capitalist system. All these tragic incidents and instances of criminality warrant expedient conscious action on the part of suffering humanity in the form of developing organized powerful movement rising above all divisiveness under correct leadership to wage a crusade against these spate of injustice and force the rulers to deliver justice.
The SUCI(C) and AIDSO released statewide movement demanding impartial investigation of the murder of Anis Khan, and exemplary punishment to all the guilty persons. AIDSO organized a massive march to Lalbazar, the Kolkata Police Headquarters, to press for the demand. Even the Calcutta High Court has also pulled up the Special Investigation Team for dereliction. Comrade Chandidas Bhattacharjee, the West Bengal State Secretary, SUCI (C), appealed to the people to build up mighty movement demanding justice for Anis Khan.