July 21, 2018
Remembering the martyrs of 21 July – Excerpts from Mamata Banerjee’s book
Today is July 21, Shahid Dibas. On this day in 1993, 13 valiant workers lost their lives during a rally on Mayo Road, Kolkata, after the police opened fire on them.
To commemorate the martyrdom of the 13 political activists, along with other martyrs who were killed during the Left Front rule, lakhs of people have converged in Kolkata from all the districts for the public meeting at Dharmatala.
The Trinamool Congress Chairperson Mamata Banerjee has written extensively on the political significance of this day in her book ‘My Unforgettable Memories’.
Excerpted portions are given below:
‘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.’
‘The voice of democratic demand raised in a peaceful procession was stifled with bullets and violence … Every year, 21st July is dedicated to the ‘Shahid family’ (martyrs’ families) belonging to different democratic movements.’
‘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.’
In her book ‘My journey’ she writes:
“What exactly happened on 21st July? All was printed in newspapers. It may be oft repeated, but that blood stained gruesome 21st July will forever be deep in my mind, just like a nightmare. I started from my home around 11:30 AM, and reached first at Mayo Road crossing.”
”On seeing me arrive, CPI(M) cadres started pelting bricks from the rooftop, right in front of the stage. I tried speaking to the people without a microphone but failed. Right after this, the police climbed up to the stage, and my waist with the butts of their rifles. Another bunch of police had begun aiming the stage with tear gas shells by then. No photographers were allowed to be anywhere near us, to guarantee that no photograph of the account can be published the next day.”
“News reached us, innumerable people have gathered at the Strand Road – where meeting was in progress. Meeting was in full swing at Bowbazar too. Dharmatala was overflowing with people. Condition of Mayo Road was horrifying- the police had opened fire at the crowd and killed several people.”
“The city of Kolkata witnessed unprecedented bloodshed on that day. Death was all around, spelled out in gory-letters on the roads. Ever-increasing were the number of casualties and injured people.”
“As no one can keep out the sunlight by covering their face with hands, even you shall fail to put out the flames of this youth movement with your guns. With the grievous memory of 21st July – ‘bathed in the blood of my brother’ – the youth of Bengal will give you answer.”