Banning book: What communal harmony Mamata speaking about?

By: Shubham Ghosh
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Mamata Banerjee has done it again, this time against an IPS officer. The cop, Nazrul Islam, published a book titled Mushalmander Ki Karaniya (What Muslims Should Do) where he spoke about the alleged plight of the Muslims in West Bengal and how the Trinamool Congress-led state government was resorting to double standards in the name of 'improving' their condition. On Saturday, Kolkata Police officials raided units of the publishing house and seized copies of the books.

Another book by retired IAS officer Dipak Kumar Ghosh, released a few months ago, also spoke volumes on the 'grey areas' of the Trinamool chief and her party, its way of functioning, and other issues. That book has also been allegedly shelved by the state authorities.


Some of Bengal's 'pro-government' newspapers have blasted Islam in their reports published on Monday that the IPS officer was trying to incite communal violence in the state particularly when the Trinamool leader was trying to develop a 'secular' atmosphere in the state and was even extending 'help' to victims of Assam violence. The reports neither spared noted Bengali littérateur Sunil Gangopadhyay who slammed the government for its 'cultural policing'.

It is true that people like Gangopadhyay had opposed Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen's book earlier and a speech on free press doesn't fit them well (Nasreen recently launched a scathing attack on Gangopadhyay), but then what change has Bengal really seen if the same totalitarian tendencies continue even after the Left's departure?

Reactions, counter-reactions

The reports advised Mamata Banerjee to give a lift to Gangopadhyay to the affected areas in case riots broke out as a consequence of Islam's writings. Legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen and Congress leader and lawyer Arunabha Ghosh, meanwhile, criticised the government for banning Islam's book. Sabitendranath Roy, owner of the publishing firm, said it was a muscle-flexing tactics by the government.

It is ironical that the same Islam, who was a staunch critic of the previous Left Front government in West Bengal, was welcomed by Banerjee and was made a safety official in the Railways. Later, after assuming power Mamata wanted to make him a special official in the home department but he refused. Islam was made the Additional Director General, Training, of West Bengal Police, a post which he still holds.

The cop, who is known for his literary writing, received many awards and set up an engineering college at Domkol in Murshidabad district. Kolkata Police Commissioner RK Pachnanda did not speak on the issue.

Why can't a cop write about Muslims?

The reports slamming Islam were ridiculous for they asked the latter's credentials in penning a book, which they said, were trying to 'teach' the Muslims about their duties. If politicians like Mamata Banerjee can write poems or paint 'valuable' pictures, then why can't a police officer write a book on the Muslims? Why does he have to be a 'true Muslim' in the sense the reports have sought and can not advise his fellow community members as a secular voice?

According to a report, Islam has argued in his book that reservation for Muslims or announcing allowances for Imams would not help in the community's advancement and also spoke in favour of modern education for the minority community. Where is the big concern about 'spreading the poison of communalism' if he has indeed spoken on these realistic issues?

A vindictive government

The recent trend in West Bengal confirms how the government is targetting individuals who are not agreeing to abide by its ways of functioning. We have seen a number of eminent people like Sunanda Sanyal, Kabir Suman, Mahasweta Devi, Sukanta Chaudhuri and now those from the ranks of bureaucracy, deciding to quit the 'dream project' that Mamata Banerjee had decided to set up on the soil of Bengal. They haven't decided to part their ways or criticise the current government for no reason.

What communal harmony is Mamata Banerjee's supporters speaking about? One of the Nazrul-bashing reports said the poor people could not be fed just by raising slogans of communal politics. My question is: "How the hollow slogan of Ma, Mati, Manush will satisfy needs of those several left without any development and basic opportunities of life?"

Doesn't Mamata know this? Surely she does. The utility of slogans ends with elections and Mamata Banerjee clear does not have the capacity to back it up with work on the ground. She, as Dipak Ghosh said in his book, knew how to befool ordinary people by using quotations of giants like Tagore, Vivekananda or Kazi Nazrul Islam in a way that those people who never read about them would indeed believe that it was Mamata who had invented such 'feel-good' words. Ghosh said Mamata had fully understood ways to attract common people through words only and the latter never bothered to wait for the leader to fulfil her promises at any point.

The reason is simple: Mamata does not have the money required to effect any change. She has been charging the Centre for not providing money to the state but yet boasts often now and then about how her government finished ten years' work in just a year. Sounds contradictory, right?

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