Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | May 21, 2009

Frenzy

To-day is Rajiv Gandhi’s death anniversary. Seventeen years back when he was assassinated, I was in school. As far as I recall, it was a weekend morning when we got the news reported. Since there was no cable television in those days, we relied on the scheduled news bulletins on the national television. Durgapur Steel Township was not the kind of place where one would see crowds going berserk after hearing such shocking news, so we did not feel the pulse. However, that day we were reminded of the horrid day when Rajiv’s mother Indira Gandhi was assassinated and we hoped that the carnage that followed after Mrs. Gandhi’s death is not repeated.

In 1984, the year Indira Gandhi was assassinated, I was studying in class one in St. Lawrence. Kolkata during that period had a considerable chunk of Sikhs living in its Southern part. Sikhs were always much respected in Kolkata especially for their behaviour. The day began like any normal day and I was in my school. Those were days when people relied on All India Radio for news in India. When the news of Mrs. Gandhi’s death was declared, our Prefect, Father Peter D’Abrew came to our class and instructed us that the school gate has been closed indefinitely and nobody is allowed to leave their class room. We as children did not realise much of the carnage that gripped the nation, but Father D’Abrew’s stern instructions were enough to keep us quiet.

After some time, my father came from his office, took permission from Father D’Abrew to take me home and I was allowed out. My father and I took a cab and started moving towards our house in New Alipore. However, as we reached a prominent junction we saw violent crowds on the street and police trying to control them desperately. The cab driver was not allowed to go any further and we had no option but to walk. Thankfully, my grandmother’s house was very near to where we left the cab and we took refuge there till the evening.

The now tarnished Left front could manage to control riots from happening on the streets of Kolkata. In fact, when frenzied crowds on various pretexts take on the streets of India to kill one another through out the nation, Kolkata has always remained calm. I wonder why the Government could not control their hooligans in the rural areas. Whenever I am watching election news these days, I am thinking Kolkata (or more specifically West Bengal) suffered most because it somewhat became alienated from India in many aspects – good or bad. Following years may see Kolkata (and West Bengal) get more integrated with India. I hope it is for the good however I know with many goods, Kolkata may end up having lot of ills too which would be ultimately pains that one undergoes in a transition phase.

I could relate to this article by Joydeep Ray.

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Responses

  1. I remember Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. I was 4 years old and I was playing with a yellow toy car when my dad came home from work and told my mom. I remember that dad had to work extra hours for a long time after that. I have seen the place of assassination also as it is only a few minutes from my college. Hmmmmm. I wish as much as possible not to think about all this as it depresses me a lot. Hmmmmm.


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