WB: Thousands Gather in Kolkata to Remember the Martyrs of 1959 Food Movement
Kolkata: Amid heavy rains, thousands of people assembled in Kolkata's Dharamtala for a meeting remembering the Food Movement martyrs. The 1959 movement witnessed brutal repression from the then Congress government, leading to the deaths of 80 people on August 31, 1959.
The meeting was addressed by Left Front chairperson Biman Basu and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) West Bengal secretary MD Salim, among others.
The crown observed a one-minute silence in memory of the martyrs of the 1959 Food Movement.
Originally, a rally was planned to commemorate the martyrs, but the police denied the permission. Despite that, the event saw people marching from Sealdah and Howrah stations towards the heart of the city.
Speaking to the assembled crowd, Basu called out the politics of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), adding that both parties must be fought on an equal footing.
Retracing the events of August 31, 1959, Basu said, "On that rain-drenched day, more than 50,000 hungry and impoverished people had come to Kolkata to demand food and a fair rationing system. Police stopped their rally before the Great Eastern Hotel and started an inhuman lathicharge, killing 80 people. The then chief minister BC Roy and his police ruthlessly tormented protesters. The protest continued for the next few days, as did the repression by state police. Around 112 people died due to police action."
NewsClick talked to Subir Ghosh, a Jadavpur local, who said that the Food Movement martyrs' day holds special significance for all Left Front activists as it denotes the determination of people refusing to bow down against the might of the state.
"During this year's Panchayat elections, nearly 100 people were killed. Their martyrdom will not go in vain," Ghosh said.
Addressing the rally, Salim talked about how, before the 1959 Food Movement, there was the famine of 1943 when Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was the food minister.
"The famine happened due to Mukherjee's irresponsible administration, which allowed the diversion of food resources to the soldiers of the Second World War at the cost of millions of Bengal lives."
Salim then made the assembled crowd take a pledge to challenge the right-wing forces in the state to build a better West Bengal.
Mentioning the Panchayat elections, Salim alleged large-scale vote looting.
"The hatred of people against the politics of BJP and TMC is more stubborn."
The meeting was also addressed by Meenakshi Mukherjee, the state secretary of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), CPI state secretary Swapan Banerjee, Naren Chatterjee, secretary of the Bengal committee of Forward Block, and Tapan Hore, state secretary of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
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