The two most visible faces of the Kamduni people’s movement for justice after the brutal gang rape and murder of a college student and fellow villager in 2013 could take the plunge into West Bengal’s electoral politics.
Tumpa Koyal, a homemaker and childhood friend of the 20-year-old victim, and Mousumi Koyal voiced their willingness to join politics after a Kolkata court on Saturday sent three men to the gallows and three more to life imprisonment in the Kamduni case.
They and some members of the social group, Aakranto Amra (We the Victims), are likely to contest this year’s assembly polls as independent candidates with possible support from either the Congress or CPI(M).
Aakranto Amra, led from the front by Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, has been organising protests for the past two-and-a-half years to decry atrocities such as the Kamduni rape-murder and election-related violence. The group, formed in July 2014, has 130 members — a tiny figure when juxtaposed against the membership of big political parties such as the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition CPI(M).
But then, Tumpa and Mousumi of Kamduni have already made their mark when they confronted chief minister Mamata Banerjee with tough questions when she visited the village 10 days after the gruesome incident on June 7, 2013.
Besides Mahapatra, the group has retired Supreme Court justice AK Ganguly, who was part of the bench that delivered a February 2012 verdict quashing 122 2G licences issued by the UPA government.
Some other intellectuals have also rallied behind the two women, impressed with their courage to stand up to injustice, as well the forum. Sources said this was in stark contrast to the groundswell of support Trinamool chief Banerjee received from the state’s intelligentsia — drawn to her Ma Mati Manush slogan and promise of change or “poriborton” — ahead of the 2011 assembly polls.
Mahapatra began his crusade after he was arrested in April 2012 for allegedly circulating a cartoon that lampooned chief minister Banerjee and then Trinamool general secretary Mukul Roy.
“We want to free Bengal from the misrule of the Trinamool Congress. Hence, we are willing to field some of our members, including Mousumi and Tumpa, as independent candidates for the assembly elections with support from opposition parties,” Mahapatra said.
Aakranto Amra recently held separate meetings with CPI(M) leaders as well as Bengal unit Congress president Adhir Chowdhury to discuss their participation in the electoral process.
He said discussions have been held with Left Front chairperson Biman Bose and CPI(M) state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, and their proposal was under consideration. “We had planned to hold talks with the BJP leadership as well. However, CPI(M) leaders made it clear that they won’t be with us if we seek saffron support.”