Bengalis call themselves an aware and active class who take the centrestage at the drop of a hat. If that is the case, then why not a single candle was lit to protest after a college student from a village near Kolkata was horribly gangraped and murdered?
If Nirbhaya deserved candlelight protest, why not Aparajita?
If the sexual torture of Nirbhaya in a moving bus in Delhi in a cold winter night could spark so much protest, even in the state capital located 1,500 kilometres away, then why the gruesome murder of a girl who was pursuing her dreams amid all difficulties didn't ring a bell?
For those who don't know how this girl (local media has named her Aparajita) was tortured, let me say that the victim was strangulated and her legs were torn apart after she was raped. Is this any less shocking than the way the medical student was treated in Delhi? No.
Hollowness of Bengali's progressive culture
It shows the hollowness of the so-called progressive culture of today's Bengali society. It is shocking to see that no student organisation uttered a word against the rape and murder of a student. But these organisations never waste an opportunity to pitch their voice against the American imperialism in Iraq or shed tears if a Hugo Chavez dies in Venzuela.
Great internationalists or petty escapists?
I think it is the latter. Whether the Bengalis claim themselves to be aware and mature, none can deny that they ultimately speak in terms of political orientation. The public protest against Nirbhaya in Delhi, although some say it was media-driven, was yet a spontaneous one. The protest march against the horrendous crime in Kolkata was just an act of 'following the trend'.
Barasat incident shows how much politicised the Bengali mind is
The real side of the Bengali society gets exposed when an incident like Barasat happens. The zero activity establishes one fact: The Bengali society has been politicised so much so that anything that doesn't have a political colour or angle can never expect to catch public attention. Bengal has discarded the CPI(M) but the latter hasn't left the Bengali mind. The legacy of Anil Biswas is there to stay, irrespective of paribartan or not. Bengalis talk only if the issue speaks of either the Left or the Trinamool. Or else not.
Stagnant mind, zero mobilisation
The stagnant mind of the progressive Bengalis has not only been shaped by the Left legacy, it is also a characteristic of a society that doesn't believe in mobilisation, psychological and physical.
The Bengali middle-class is so much obsessed with its own welfare that it acts only when its own interests are affected.
A civil society there gained prominence a few years ago when some villagers were shot by the police in Nandigram. It was also a rural incident but yet a section of the civil society started a movement against the then regime for it was a golden chance to facilitate the alternative political force and serve its own cause.
It was terrible to see that even the civil society was bifurcated into the pro-Left and pro-Trinamool around that time, which raises doubt about the genuineness of the Bengali intelligentsia. The pro-Trinamool camp has been further divided today.
Mamata's failure is not the point, the point is the common Bengalis' attitude
The pro-Trinamool 'progressive' Bengalis felt elated once the paribartan came, not for the state but themselves. What better reaction can we expect from such people when an innocent 'non-entity' girl is raped in a nearby village?
The hypocrisy of the elite and 'progressive' Bengalis stands completely exposed. Mamata Banerjee's administrative failure is not the prime concern here. The frozen attitude of the common Bengali, both intellectuals and non-intellectuals, is. Can those remaining indifferent take a lesson from the family of the victim who rejected state help after the incident?
Bantala rape case: Did the progressive utter a word?
Some well-placed women officers were raped and killed by a mob in Kolkata on a summer afternoon two decades ago. Where was the 'progressive' Bengali then? He wasn't there because he always liked the status quo and didn't feel to take the trouble to take a stand on the issue. The convenience was disturbed when the rulers started to run out of steam after three decades towards the late 2000s and a sudden protest was observed. But its condition was political.
Only politics has eaten up the Bengali mind
Every social issue which has seen a street protest in Kolkata/Bengal in recent years caught people's attention only when it had a political angle. Otherwise, it's of no use for the 'progressive' Bengali.
Trinamool MP Sougata Roy hit the nail on the head after the Barasat gangrape and murder by saying that no protest happened because it was not a city-centric incident.
Divisive and callous media
The role of the media has also been politically divisive. A pro-Left channel was seen shouting against Banerjee's administrative failure but it flashed a banner showing the name of the Barasat victim even as the anchor and panelists were not taking her name. How much more insensitive and callous can it be?
Stay well Bengal. Myself a Bengali, I left home because I could not pretend to be a hollow intellectual. And I don't want to be one either.