Condemning the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday said “these kind of atrocities” reflect the “very sad state of affairs”. Speaking at a round table conference on health organised by The Indian Express in Kolkata, Banerjee said: “I am very sad to hear that a renowned journalist, Gauri Lankesh, was murdered yesterday. I have been told that she was killed because of her hard-hitting writing. We feel very sad and condemn this. It is a very sad state of affairs. We must condemn these kind of atrocities.”
Countering allegations of appeasement politics, Banerjee said: “Some people say Mamatadi is doing appeasement of minorities. In my state, there is 30 per cent Muslim population. It has the highest Muslim population among states in the country. In Uttar Pradesh, it is 11 per cent. In Bihar, it is 11 per cent and in Bengal, it is 30 per cent. I have Christian population, tribal population and so on. Don’t you think when I have this chair (of Chief Minister), I should work for all? If you don’t help minorities, how will their condition improve? I have worked for all.”
She said three persons arrested in the state Tuesday tried to “create some communal tension by throwing beef inside a temple’’.
“I am not that person who will allow beef to be thrown inside a temple to create communal tension and riots. Yesterday, three persons were caught red-handed while they were throwing beef inside a temple. I don’t agree with this. This is a negative attitude,” she said.
Without taking names, Banerjee said: “You have to take care of everyone… I cannot say I will only see the colour white and not the colour black. I have to take care of everyone. They are not taking care of the downtrodden, the businessmen, even the traders. They are only taking care of a particular community. Please excuse me if I am wrong… it is my freedom of expression. I have to say this after the death of Gauri Lankesh. This is happening because of a single point… to divide people, to divide humanity.”
On the role of the media, the Chief Minister said: “About 400 people have died in Gujarat due to swine flu in 4-5 months. Nobody knows this because the media is not playing its role. In Bengal, even if 0.1 per cent die of swine flu, the media will play it up. But if it happens in other parts of the country, where the ruling party from the Centre is in power, they will not touch the matter. It is not that I am criticising the media but people must know facts.”
On the death of children in a Gorakhpur government hospital, Banerjee said: “If children die due to lack of oxygen, don’t you think it is a crime? If a particular government cannot supply oxygen to babies. then I do not know what to say.”