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July 3, 2012

Looking Back : July 21 – Martyrs Day

Looking Back : July 21 – Martyrs Day

July 21, 1993, was a day that shook the pillars of democracy in Bengal 18-years ago, when the then Calcutta Police, under Left Front Government mercilessly opened fire and killed 13 innocent activists.

Youth Congress supporters under the leadership of Ms. Banerjee, then West Bengal State President of Youth Congress had organized Writers' Abhijaan (march towards Writers' Building) in demand that the 'Voters' Identity Card' be made the only valid document to verify voters in order to put a stop the rampant 'scientific rigging' gathered at five different points across the city.

The Youth Congress supporters gathered at five different points in the city and the one which had assembled at the Howrah station and began marching towards the destination along Brabourne Road were stopped by a large contingent of police near the Tea Board office, barely few minutes from the Writers' Building. An unleashed police force started beating up the crowd mercilessly in order to drive them away from the vicinity of the Writers' Building.

The Youth Congress supporters who were peacefully rallying refused to stop and walk ahead.. The police started lathicharge and many rounds of teargas shell were fired but undeterred the supporters kept on moving. Ms. Banerjee tried to pacify the supporters but the police which went berserk in a spate of revenge did not even spare her. The supporters and some of the leaders including Saugata Roy were severely beaten up.

The Youth Congress supporters approaching from Brabourne Road, BB Ganguly Street, Mission Row, Mayo Road heading towards the Writers' Building were stopped as gathering was prohibited under the Section 144. The place transformed into a battle ground. People started running across Curzon Park. The police opened fire killing 13 supporters and leaving 200 severely injured. Surprisingly, the police aimed for head and chest of the ensemble mass, a thing unheard of in any civilized country. Ms. Banerjee was beaten up brutally and collapsed on the road. Later she and the injured were removed to hospital.