Kolkata: Bangladeshi actor Gazi Abdun Noor created a massive row by campaigning for TMC candidate Sougata Roy. He was the second Bangladeshi actor after Ferdous to campaign for the ruling party in Bengal. But what skipped attention of many was senior TMC leader, Madan Mitra, who was in the same jeep in a brazen intimidating tone telling the voters, "Kendriyo bahini kotodin?" (How long will the central forces be around?) Before going any further on the legality and morality of what the TMC leader said, it’s time to remind him of a CRPF officer whose integrity was instrumental in bringing down the 34 years of left rule - Alok Raj.



Alok Raj, the 'Singham' of Bengal

During those tumultuous years of Nandigram uprising that made Mamata Banerjee, the leader of the masses in the true sense, the left-front government tried everything to crush the voice of dissent with power. Muscle power, guns, intimidation, and threats-every trick in the book was used. TMC then in opposition was praying for a free and fair election. 

In 2008 panchayat election, Alok Raj, was the man who ensured that he stood up to the threats of the sitting MP of Nandigram area. In May 2008, in an interview to TheTelegraph, Raj said, “The MP here (Lakshman Seth) told me not to come out of our camps and I was shocked. I told him, ‘Sir I can’t take orders from you. I know my job’.” Raj was the CRPF deputy inspector-general at that point.

With panchayat election around, the threats got real. But Raj, a senior CRPF officer who was there to ensure a free and fair election didn't budge and stood up to the power. Raj had refused to stay put in camps as asked by the then CPI(M) MP, Lakshman Seth. In fact, the threat laced conversation with Seth, the CPI(M) strongman was made public by Raj, leaving the ministry of home affairs to step in.

Alok Raj in Nandigram

The cop who Nandigram remembers

The state police asked CRPF to patrol areas that were not sensitive and untouched by violence. Needless to say, it was done at the behest of the Left government of the day. But Alok Raj didn't take that lying down. In another interview with the same publication, Raj said, "A copy of the order was given to me when I was having a meeting with SP (East Midnapore) at Nandigram police station around 5 pm on May 10. I was shocked to see the names of the villages mentioned in the order where the CRPF were asked to patrol". Not only did Raj called up the district magistrate but ensure the order were changed. 

Villagers who were cut off from the mainland by political cadres saw the CRPF as a ray of hope. The panchayat election that year was comparatively peaceful in the most trouble-torn area of Bengal.

When Madan Mitra folds his hands saying "bhalo thakben" (take care) soon after reminding that the central forces won't stay back for long, the TMC must remember how the CRPF didn't yield under pressure then, won't yield under pressure now.