Ma­mata’s Rule By Mob

Chief Min­is­ter walks into po­lice sta­tion, takes law into own hands, en­sures re­lease of un­ruly young­sters

India Today - - NATION - By Partha Das­gupta

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.


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