http://sanhati. com/news_ watch_bengal/ #25

Suchpur massacre: CPI(M)'s sleight of hand delays
justice for victims

By Manas Ghosh, Doinik Statesman, Kolkata, 15 May
2008. Translated by Soumya Guhathakurta, Sanhati

For the past two years, the reign of terror unleashed
by the Government of West Bengal and CPI(M) in Singur
and Nandigram has drawn headline attention through the
length and breadth of the country. However, long
before these events unfolded, surreptitious efforts
were on to interfere with the course of justice in
Suri court (administrative head quarters of Birbhum
district, West Bengal) by the state administration
under the directives of CPI(M), to save from
punishment the perpetrators of the heinous massacre at
Suchpur, Birbhum.

The Suchpur massacre ranks the most heinous amongst
all the heinous crimes committed by the CPI(M) during
the 31 years of Left Front government in West Bengal.

The year was 2000. 11 poverty-struck Muslim
agricultural labourers were murdered in broad day
light under the leadership of Nityaranjan
Chattopadhyay (CPI(M) member, influential leader of
Nanur, member of Birbhum Zilla Parishad). Their
throats were axed and slit with tangi (battle axe) and
hanshua (crescent shaped knife) and their heads were
smashed with stone slabs. 8 years since the fateful
day, the trial is still on and doubts keep creeping in
whether delayed justice will at all be delivered.

Delayed and in the end undelivered justice is an
oft-repeated trend. The Kot massacre of 26 years ago
carried out by CPI(M) in Kot village of the same
district has not seen the light of justice. In Kot,
CPI(M) members and supporters carried out a
pre-planned massacre of 7 Muslim preachers after
branding them as 'Gonoshotru' (or enemy of the
people). They were first snuffed out of their
tenements by burning sacks filled with dried red
chilly and then butchered the moment they stepped out
in the open. This reprehensible case is yet to be
solved and is still in the stage of recording the
witness' evidence. The culprits have not only gone
scot free but they have been going around since then
carrying on with the party's terror agenda.

Relatives of the victims of the Suchpur massacre have
ample reasons to be apprehensive that the delayed
justice will finally be denied. The hearing of this
mass massacre case has been postponed not less than 80
times which is a record by itself.

In most cases the postponement was deliberate, even as
Justice Debiprasad Sengupta of Calcutta High Court by
his ruling dated 23 March 2005 had ordered a fast
track adjudication of the case within the following
six months. In spite of this directive, the case has
hardly moved during the past three years. The reason
for the slow pace was the transfer of five additional
district judges during this period. As a result, leave
alone a quick adjudication, the case is yet to reach
the stage of examining the witnesses.

Whenever the judges have attempted to speed up
proceedings, they have been abruptly served with
transfer orders. These steps have been taken to delay
the process of justice - every time a judge is
transferred, the new incumbent has used the court's
time to take a look afresh at the details of the
massacre and the legal proceedings thereafter. This
state of affairs indicates that there is a deeper
conspiracy at work, a conspiracy to delay the process
of justice.

Tellingly, these delaying acts have been orchestrated
to coincide with the 2004 Lok Sabha elctions, 2006
West Bengal assembly elections and 2008 panchayat
elections. This orchestration has been necessary to
ensure that the judges remain far away from a position
from where they can quickly come to a verdict. The
ruling party obviously apprehends that the verdict
will go against them and that this is bound to
adversely affect their electoral prospects.

Suchpur is a part of Nanur Vidhan sabha and Bolpur Lok
sabha constituency. It is an extremely impoverished,
under developed village and 'Brand Buddha' development
has not even reached any place near Suchpur. The
Bolpur Lok sabha constituency is represented by
Somnath Chatterjee - speaker, Lok Sabha. After the
massacre of the Muslim agricultural workers, he had
the gumption to call them "dacoits".

His and the Party's version is that the massacre was
the consequence of 'dacoits' from a neighbouring
district becoming victim to 'unrestrained public
anger'. This 'appropriate expression of public anger'
was under the leadership of Nityaranjan Chattopadhyay
who is close to Somnath Chattopadhyay. To legitimise
this version of Somnath Chattopadhyay, police charged
the victims and their families with cases of robbery,
attempted murder, molestation and snatching.
Fraudulent means were adopted while recording the time
of the robbery in order to establish that the robbery
case was filed and recorded before the occurrence of
the massacre. This was done to establish that the
Suchpur massacre was a result of a 'spontaneous
outburst of public anger'.

However, Somnath Chattopadhyay' s effort in cooking up
a cock-and-bull story of dacoits and their public
punishment has not cut ice with the people and perhaps
neither with the judiciary.

The most shameful aspect of the Suchpur episode has
been the efforts of the ruling party and its crony
administration to purposefully and jointly obstruct
the course of justice and also to actively scale down
the esteem of the judiciary in the public eye. This
vicious game can be understood from the sequential
steps taken with the objective to shield the
perpetrators of the heinous crime by crippling the
judicial process to reduce the trial to a farce. This
is being done to ensure that the prime accused like
Nityaranjan Chattopadhyay and others are kept out of
the reach of law so that they can operate with
impunity and carry on with their terror activities.
The chorus leader of this musical has been barrister
Somnath Chattopadhyay who sits today as the speaker of
the Parliament and daily utters homilies on the
virtues of impartiality.

The desperation of the ruling party and the
administration to defeat the judicial process can be
gauged from their extreme noncooperation with the
judiciary. During the past three years the hearing of
the case has been deliberately stayed at the least
forty times. The noncooperation of police and
administration with judiciary is politically
motivated. The main duty of police and administration
is to always be on the side of law and justice and to
carry out the orders of judiciary but in this case it
has been seen that they have been actively subverting
the process of law. Police and administration is
dutifully bound to produce the accused and government
witnesses, as per summons issued by judiciary, to the
court on the date of the trial in order to maintain
the pace of the proceedings. However, in this case it
has been seen that police and administration have
always managed to get away though they are guilty of
contempt of court.

The most blatant example of police and
administration' s subverting the process of law is the
case of the four doctors of Bolpur government hospital
who performed the post-mortem autopsy on the 11
victims of the mass massacre. During the 7 months when
the court recorded the witness' evidence, these four
doctors were not present with their report. The date
of recording the doctors' evidence was deferred not
less than seven times on the flimsy pretext that the
doctors had not received the summons. The court
resorted to sending the summons through the
Directorate of Health Services located at Writers
Building but the efforts came to nought.

The judge repeatedly asked the police and
administration to trace the summons but there was no
result. The helplessness of the judiciary, in this
case, will be evident from the fact that the court
finally issued summon in the name of the Directorate
of Health Services. That efforts were on to delay and
subvert the process of law was clear to all including
the judge presiding over the proceedings.

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