Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Monday ordered CPM leader Kanti Ganguly to appear before Justice Amitabh Lala Commission in relation to the 1982 Anandamargi murder case (Bijon Setu massacre).
The division bench of Justice Dipankar Dutta ordered Mr. Ganguly accused of the massacre to appear before the Lala Commission tomorow, which was probing the heinous killing in the heart of Kolkata decades ago.
On the morning of April 30, 1982, 17 Ananda Marga renunciates (16 monks and one nun) were dragged out of taxis that were taking them to an educational conference at their headquarters in Tiljala, Kolkata. They were beaten to death and then set on fire simultaneously at three different locations. It was reported that the killings took place in broad daylight and were witnessed by thousands of people, as they were performed in public.
The Statesman Weekly, the leading Calcutta newspaper at the time, reported a week after the incident that “Seventeen Ananda Margis, two of them women, were done to death on April 30 morning by frenzied mobs at three places in South Calcutta in the suspicion that they were child-lifters.” The reporting did not include any compassion for the victims or their families, a tone that prefigured the reaction of both government and the media. Similar unsympathetic reporting appeared in the May 5th edition of the Statesman as well as contemporaneous editions of Sunday and India Today.
The Minister of State for Home Affairs was quoted to the effect that the police reaction could have been improved but then went on to reassure members of Parliament that “the Government was watching the activities of the Marg [Ananda Marga members]”. In his study on the incident, historian Narasingha Sil concluded the government’s overall attitude was that the Ananda Marga members had “got themselves killed because they were so sinfully invidious.” The wire story sent out by United Press International added the detail that two of the nuns who were killed were “seen carrying a child near a railway station”.
As part of its initial coverage, The Statesman Weekly reported the state’s Chief Minister’s suspicions that the attack had been staged to embarrass the party in power prior to the upcoming election. Ananda Marga blamed the attack on the Communist Party of India (Marxist). While this accusation was repeated for many years, recent Ananda Marga scholarship now assumes the mob was motivated by unfounded allegations of child kidnapping.