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July 21, 2018

Looking back at Ekushe July

Looking back at Ekushe July

The July 21 Martyrs Day rally (Ekushe July Shahid Dibas) is organised by All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) in remembrance of the 13 political activists shot dead by police in Kolkata during a protest march led by Mamata Banerjee on that day in 1993.

The current Chief Minister, who was a firebrand Opposition leader back then, had organised Writers’ Chalo Abhijan (March to Writers’ Building), demanding that the voters’ identity card be made the only valid document to verify voters in order to stop the rampant ‘scientific rigging’ perpetrated by the Left Front Government. Writers’ Building was then the State Secretariat.

Bloody history

The party workers gathered at five different points across Kolkata on that fateful day. They began marching towards their destination along Brabourne Road, when they were stopped by a large contingent of police officials near the office of the Tea Board, barely a few minutes away from Writers’ Building. The police force started beating up the crowd mercilessly in order to drive them away from the vicinity of the State Secretariat.

The youth activists, who were peacefully marching, refused to stop and walked ahead. Many rounds of teargas shells were fired but the supporters kept moving forward. The police went berserk and did not even spare Mamata Banerjee while beating the youth activists black and blue. People started running across Curzon Park. Then phe police opened fire, killing 13 supporters and leaving hundreds severely injured.

Since then, an annual rally has been held on this day every year, dedicated to the memory of these 13 martyrs.

The list of the persons who died on July 21, 1993:

Srikanta Sharma
Bandhan Das
Dilip Das
Asim Das
Keshab Bairagi
Biswanath Roy
Kalyan Banerjee
Pradip Roy
Ratan Mondal
Murari Chakraborty
Ranajit Das
Abdul Khalek