I had to accompany my father for an appointment with a dentist near Shyambazaar. I had my breakfast and we rode on his bike and made our way.
It was sharp 9:30 when we left home. On crossing RG Hospital, I saw a strange plethora of crowd.
Three thoughts crowded my mind, one- I assumed it to any other weekday, and probably the traffic was beyond human control,
or any minister must have arrived in the nearby area as many police officers, constable -white, green- had been employed,
OR there must have been an accident.
I religiously prayed the third option be not valid.
Normally it would take 30 minutes to reach our destination, but that day it took an hour!
On arriving at the chamber, which was usually very, very crowded- patients would have to stand in a queue for their turn, I was utterly shocked to notice empty chairs! Being surprised, I gladly took my seat and waited for our turn. I was engulfed into my smartphone when I saw a man enter the chamber and enquired me how long had I been waiting. Since I don’t have a habit of talking to strangers, I politely responded with “not long”. He was trying to begin a conversation with me, in relation to the over growing intensity of the crowd in the buses, and I not being interested in such conversation, assumed him to be a chatter box and ignored him and diverted myself into my smartphone.
While waiting for our turn, I heard my father talking with that stranger. He seemed so casual with his conversation as if they’ve known each other for ages. They were talking about the traffic, and how it took us 1 hour to cover 6 km. While conversing I heard the man say something about Mamata Banerjee (CM of West Bengal). I was a bit confused as to what does SHE has to do with this? Being curious as I am, I interrupted them. I hesitatingly asked, kya baat hai? The response I got was of questioning faces. My father gave me a bewildering look and he asked,
The crowd is gathered here because on 21 July 1993, when CPM (Communist Party Maoist of India) was in the governance, a meeting was held on that particular day and “The State Youth Congress” led by Mamata Banerjee had organised a protest march towards Writer’s Building (the then seat of communist party) on the day against the communist government of the state demanding photo voter identity cards be made mandatory to ensure justified election. However, before even arriving at their destination the crowd was intervened by the Kolkata Police near Esplanade crossing. Unable to control the growing crowd, the police firing killed 13 youth and injured many. This resulted in great violence and hatred towards the Police and the Party. The hatred towards CPM just exaggerated when no proper enquiry was settled in the case. The death of 13 youth consequently worked in favour of Mamata Banerjee who was just rising into politics and the sympathy of the public worked for the establishment of “Trinamool Congress” in 1997.
After that, 21 July -known as be the Martyr’s Day- has become one of the largest public rally in West Bengal and Indian Politics.
I was startled by the revelation of history. After being checked up by the dentist, my father asked me whether I wanted to see the actual reality, and being all charged up and excited I agreed to it. We put our helmets on and began our ride. Rarely was there any public bus carrying any commuters. All were filled and squashed by masses coming from Madhyamgram, Birbhum, Biror, Durgapur, Dankuni, Bardhaman, Ranaghat, Bankura, Babughat and many MANY other places (and villages) which I did not even know existed in the state of West Bengal. Not taking much time, I realized the crowd was unsanitised, uncultured and uncivilized. A majority of them did not even know why they had gathered and where were they going. The buses were marked by Trinamool flag and people were shouting and screaming “Trinamool ashche, asbe, thakbe” meaning Trinamool is coming, has come and will stay; signifying their power.
I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say that I have seen more than 200 buses and trucks filled with loads and loads of people in a span of just 30 minutes. Special traffic arrangement were made for the buses near Wellington, Ahmerstreet area where one-way transportation was allowed. Private buses and cars were given no special treatment. All eyes of the people at their respective shops or people walking on the pavement were gazing at the bus and its cheering masses.
The cheering of the growing crowd irritated my brain. Their voices were increasing with every passing bus. As if this wasn’t enough, they were spitting through their window seats of the buses. I nearly escaped such scene by just a second and I constantly prayed I don’t become a victim of their spit. The food they’d eaten hungrily were shattered on the roads- everywhere! It looked like a circle of vomits. Even crossing them made me nauseatic. I wondered how and how will one ever be able to clean it. It was a disgusting site.
And just then it started to rain. It rained heavily. We took shelter in a nearby confectionary. As I kept my eyes fixed towards the dirt on the road, I saw the heavy downpour eroding the dirt swiftly. But nothing, not even the heavy downpour could deter the crowd. They raised their slogans in unison and kept marching. Even women folk were a part of it. The sound system echoed “Esplanade cholo”. The local leader gave their befitting speeches praising our CM, side parting the insufficiency of the TMC party.