July 20, 2015
Looking back at 21 July, 1993
The 21 July Martyrs’ Day rally is organised by All India Trinamool Congress in remembrance of 13 people shot dead by West Bengal Police in Kolkata during a protest movement led by Ms Mamata Banerjee on 21 July, 1993.
Ms Banerjee had organised Writers’ Chalo Abhiyan (March towards Writers’ Building) demanding that the voters’ identity card be made the only valid document to verify voters in order to put a stop to rampant ‘scientific rigging’.
The party workers gathered at five different points across the city on that fateful day. They began marching towards their destination along Brabourne Road and were stopped by a large contingent of police officials near the Tea Board office, barely few minutes away from the Writers’ Building. The police force started beating up the crowd mercilessly in order to drive them away from the vicinity of Writers’ Building.
The youth activists who were peacefully rallying refused to stop and walked ahead. Many rounds of teargas shells were fired but the supporters kept moving forward. Despite Ms Banerjee’s efforts to establish peace, the police went berserk in a spate of revenge and did not even spare her.
The place transformed into a battle zone. People started running across Curzon Park. The police opened fire, killing 13 supporters and leaving hundreds severely injured. Since then, an annual rally is held on this day every year, dedicated to the memory of these 13 martyrs.
On the political significance of this day, the Trinamool Congress Chairperson Ms Mamata Banerjee writes in her book ‘My Unforgettable Memories’:
“It is the day when we remember and offer our respect to the hundreds of people who are fighting death every day, whose lives are a living death, who have lost life and limb in this struggle. For us, it is a day of sorrow and shame.”
“Ever since 1993, every year July 21 brings back excruciating pain and agony to our memory, of the barbaric act of violence and brutal firing meted out by the previous Left Front government,” recalls the Trinamool Chairperson.
“The voice of democratic demand raised in a peaceful procession was stifled with bullets and violence… Every year, 21st July is dedicated to ‘Shahid family’ (martyrs family) belonging to different democratic movements,” the Trinamool Congress Chairperson said.
“Let us bow our heads down, pay obeisance and remember their invaluable sacrifice and also take a pledge to rededicate ourselves to continue to fight for the cause of ‘Maa Mati Manush’ and build a harmonious, peaceful and prosperous Bengal,” she said.