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July 21, 2014

The significance of 21 July

The significance of 21 July

The 21 July Martyr`s Day rally is a mass rally organized bythe All India Trinamool Congress in remembrance of 13 people shot dead by WestBengal Police in Kolkata during a protest movement by the West Bengal YouthCongress under Ms Mamata Banerjee on 21 July 1993.

Ms Banerjee, then West Bengal State President of YouthCongress, had organised Writers` Chalo Abhiyan(march towards Writers` Building) demanding that the voters` identity card bemade 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 acrossthe city on that fateful day. They began marching towards their destinationalong Brabourne Road and were stopped by a large contingent of police officialsnear the Tea Board office, barely few minutes y awafrom the Writers` Building.The police force started beating up the crowd mercilessly in order to drivethem away from the vicinity of Writers` Building.

The Youth Congress supporters who were peacefully rallyingrefused to stop and walked ahead. Many rounds of teargas shells were fired butthe supporters kept moving forward. Despite Ms Banerjee`s efforts to establishpeace, the police went berserk in a spate of revenge and did not even spareher.

The place transformed into a battle zone. People startedrunning across Curzon Park. The police opened fire, killing 13 supporters andleaving hundreds severely injured. Surprisingly, the police aimed for the headsand the chests of the supporters, something unheard of in any civilisedcountry.

Since then, an annual rally is held on this day every year, dedicatedto the memory of these 13 martyrs.

 On the politicalsignificance of this day, the Trinamool Congress Chairperson Ms Mamata Banerjeesays in her book, My Unforgettable Memories, “It is the day when we rememberand offer our respect to the hundreds of people who are fighting death everyday, whose lives are a living death, who have lost life and limb in thisstruggle. For us, it is a day of sorrow and shame.”

Mr Sisir Adhikari, who was an eyewitness to the goryincident, said “Even Mamata Banerjee who was leading the rally was injured. Oneof our party workers from Midnapore, Jaidul Khan, realized what was happeningand rushed Didi to a safe destination. The CPI(M) bosses definitely knew whatwas happening as they had orchestrated the killings at Nandigram five yearsago. But now there is a commission and a probe will tell the real story.”

The main organisers of the 1993 rally ultimately broke awayto form the new party, the All India Trinamool Congress, which took on themantle of holding the Martyrs` Day rally over the years.

“Ever since 1993, every year July 21 brings backexcruciating pain and agony to our memory, of the barbaric act of violence andbrutal firing meted out by the previous Left Front government,” recallsthe Trinamool Chairperson.

“The voice of democratic demand raised in a peacefulprocession was stifled with bullets and violence…Every year, 21st July isdedicated to `Shahid family` (martyrs family) belonging to different democraticmovements,” the Trinamool Congress Chairperson said.

“Let us bow our heads down, pay obeisance and remembertheir invaluable sacrifice and also take a pledge to rededicate ourselves tocontinue to fight for the cause of `Maa Mati Manush` and build a harmonious,peaceful and prosperous Bengal,” she said.