The report on the 1971 Kashipur-Baranagar massacre by a judicial commission headed by Justice DP Sengupta has been held back for years by the West Bengal government for unstated reasons.
The massacre had taken place on August 13, 1971. Fifty years on, the outcome of the official probe into the killing of more than a hundred alleged Naxalite youths remains unknown to the people. The commission finished its probe and Justice DP Sengupta submitted the report to the government back in 2017, but it is is yet to be published .
Notably, after coming to power in 2011, it was West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who constituted several commissions to investigate different massacres of the past, such as Saibari, Marichjhapi, Baranagar-Kashipur massacre, Nagrahaat police firing, among others. However, none of the reports so far has seen the light of the day just like the one on the Baranagar-Kashipur incident.
Ranjit Sur, vice-president of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), recently told reporters that as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government needed the support of Left-minded persons in 2011 to consolidate its base, they constituted these commissions. Mamata Banerjee’s ascension to power in 2011 also ended a 34-year Left rule in the state. However, now that the TMC holds a good position in the state, as reflected in their resounding victory in this year’s elections, it has completely forgotten about the promises, Sur said.
Interestingly, apart from the kashipur Baranagar probe the other commissions set up to investigate so called cases in Marichjhapi , saibari and so on have earlier also investigated upon and no wrongdoing about the then State Government headed by the Left Front or the United front has been reported.
On August 13, 1971, the Baranagar-Kashipur massacre too place in north of Kolkata. The state was under president’s rule and Congress was in power at the Centre. The police and ruffians backed by the Congress Party killed more than 100 Leftist youth, recounted an witness of the massacre, Ashok Roy, who is now a veteran CPI(M) activist. According to him, trucks were used to transport dead bodies to the banks of the Ganges river and coal tar was put on the faces of the deceased so that their identification became impossible.
The ghastly killings had become nationwide issue then but no investigation was conducted into the role of CRPF and Congress leader Shata ghosh, who allegedly masterminded the killings. Then in 1972, Congress leader Siddharta Shankar Roy usurped power in the state through a controversial election. After the constitution of the Left Front government in 1977, the Haratosh Chakraborty Commission probed the incident. A memorabilia for the victims was also inaugurated by late Left leader and former CM Jyoti Basu, where Left leaders continue to pay respects to the dead.
After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee constituted an unprecedented number of commissions in a short span. Crores of public money have been spent to administer these commissions, including the one led by Justice DP Sengupta, which received Rs 2.58 crore funding, as per the government’s budget document. However, not a single commission’s report has come out to the public.
The government has not even published the details of the commission’s report on the 1993 Kolkata firing, which involved CM Banerjee herself. On July 21, 1993, a police firing took place when Mamata Banerjee led the cadres of the State Youth Congress to forcibly enter Writers’ Building (former secretariat building) and oust the then Jyoti Basu-led Left Front government from power in the state. The probe was conducted by retired Justice Sushanta Chattopadhyay, who submitted his report in 2014. About Rs 5 crore was spent on the commission but the report is yet to published.