Under pressure from opposition after the death of an SFI leader,West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today termed the episode as “unfortunate”,but evaded a question on whether a judicial probe would be ordered as demanded by the CPI-M.
“Any death is unfortunate. This is also unfortunate. I will not say anything more than this,” Banerjee told reporters here outside the state-run SSKM hospital where SFI leader Sudipta Gupta’s body was kept.
She said this in response to a media query that whether the state government would order a judicial inquiry into the death as demanded by opposition CPI-M.
Banerjee said the SFI leader was killed after he collided against a post,and claimed many of her own party workers had died in this way.
The chief minister said she visited the hospital to express her sympathy and assured all help to the bereaved family.
SFI activists present at the hospital raised slogans against her during the visit.
Sudipta Gupta’s father Pronob Kumar Gupta,however,refused to accept any help from the state government. “My son was beaten to death. Is it justice? I was a central government employee. I get pension. I cannot accept any money. It is against my principle. She is offering me money,but can she return my son?” he said.
Asked about Banerjee’s statement that Sudipta died after he hit a post,Pronob Kumar reiterated that his son was beaten to death and he would fight for justice.
Sudipta’s death has triggered a row with the police claiming it as an accident while CPI-M alleges that he succumbed to injuries sustained in police lathicharge.
In a separate development,the driver of the bus in which the SFI leader along with other supporters were being taken away after arrest by the police was arrested today.
SFI member dies in Kolkata protest
A 22-YEAR-OLD member of the SFI the student wing of the CPM died while being taken by the police along with dozens others after a protest march in Kolkata on Tuesday. SFI members claimed that Sudipta Gupta,a student of Rabindra Bharati University,died after he was brutally hit by policemen on his head and face that led to his fall from the moving bus on which he was being taken to jail. The police,however,termed it as an accident saying he collided against a lamp post,which caused his death.
The protest rally started from College Street at 12.30 pm and reached Esplanade. As we were heading towards Rani Rashmoni Road,we were intercepted by the police who began a lathicharge without any provocation. We were detained and put on two separate buses for being taken to jail. However,the two policemen who were inside the bus,roughed up and abused us on our way to jail. We were beaten up and even pushed out of the bus much before reaching the jail. We suddenly saw Sudipta fell off the bus and hit a lamp post. He was profusely bleeding and even in that state the policemen hit him with baton on his forehead, said Tanushree Mondal,a member of the SFI and an eyewitness.
According to Tanushree,there was no police van to take him to the hospital. While some of the SFI members ran towards him,we were searching for a vehicle to take him to the hospital. But not a single police van could be found, she said.
He was admitted to the SSKM Hospital in a critical condition where he succumbed to injuries at 6.20 pm.
Senior leaders of the Left Front,including Biman Bose,Surya Kanta Mishra,Kshiti Goswami,Manju Majumder,rushed to the SSKM Hospital. It was Biman Bose who told mediapersons that Sudipta had died.
Denying allegations of police torture,Joint Commissioner of Police (Headquarters) Javed Shamim said: A group of (SFI) supporters,who were being taken to the jail in a bus,had an altercation with the home guard and a constable inside the bus. The altercation led to jostling at the gate where a few students were leaning out and shouting slogans. It was unfortunate that this 22-year-old got hit against a lamp post in the melee.
According to the him,37 others,including Home Guard Biswajit Mondal,have been injured. Medical Superintendent of SSKM Hospital Tamal Kanti Ghosh said Sudipta had severe blunt injuries and was in a critical state.