Mamata’s Rule By Mob
Chief Minister walks into police station, takes law into own hands, ensures release of unruly youngsters
Six months after sweeping into power on the back of campaign promises like establishing the rule of law, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee walked from her home to Bhowanipur police station on November 6 and allegedly forced policemen to release two youths detained an hour earlier for hooliganism.
Tapas Saha and Sambhu Sau were part of a group of 300-odd youngsters from a local club indulging in highdecibel Jagaddhatri Puja celebrations in front of the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute. The Bhowanipur police intervened, asked the revellers to stop bursting crackers and clear the busy S.P. Mukherjee Road which they had blocked. The youngsters went berserk and pelted stones at the policemen, who resorted to lathi-charge. A pitched battle then ensued in which a number of vehicles were damaged and the police station ransacked.
The Kalighat-based club, Sevak Sangha, whose members clashed with the police, is run, among others, by Mamata’s brother Baban. The Chief Minister arrived at Bhowanipur police station and shouted at senior policemen, including Police Commissioner Ranjit Pachnanda, Deputy Commissioner (South) D.P. Singh and Indrajit Ghosh Dastidar, the officer-in-charge of the police station for failing to control the unruly mob. Saha and Sau were released immediately.
Eyewitnesses say Mamata went to the crowd and promised action against the police. She has directed an assistant commissioner of police ( ACP) to investigate “police high-handedness”. It is learnt that the ACP’S report may indict the Bhowanipur policemen of incompetence in handling a boisterous crowd. “I can’t comment. Please ask madam about the developments,” Ghosh Dastidar told INDIA TODAY.
Mamata and her Trinamool Congress ( TMC) have always been at loggerheads with the police while in the Opposition. In October 2008, the party organised a 20,000-strong rally to “gherao” the Kolkata Police Headquarters in Lalbazar to demand the release of the brother of a local MLA who was arrested for attacking the police. The very next month, Sonali Guha, Mamata’s trusted aide and now Assembly deputy speaker, manhandled an inspector at the Nodkhali police station in South 24 Parganas.
“This is probably a first in the history of independent India that a chief minister raided a police station to get hooligans released,” says Mohammed Salim, CPI(M) Central Committee member. “Mamata has always sided with law-breakers. That she would go all out to save her brother and his goons is but natural,” he adds. The state unit of the BJP has submitted a memorandum to Governor M.K. Narayanan to intervene in the matter.
MAMATA BANERJEE AT THE BHOWANIPUR POLICE STATION