West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s belated visit to Kamduni on Monday triggered another major controversy when she rebuked protestors — who were asking her what took her 10 days to visit the village — as CPI(M) supporters.
On June 7, a 20-year old college girl was raped and murdered in the village around 40 km to the north of Kolkata, unleashing waves of protests across the state.
Talking back to the protesters just after emerging from the victim’s house, Mamata also said those arrested in connection with the crime were CPI(M) supporters.
However, locally it is well known that the accused switched loyalties after the change of guard in the state and were local Trinamool Congress supporters.
Incidentally, at different occasions during her two year tenure, the chief minister has labelled those posing uncomfortable questions to her as CPI(M) or Maoist supporters.
When she was leaving the village, some women started protesting resulting in a bitter exchange of words and leading Mamata to lose her temper. True to her intolerant image, she asked the women to ‘shut up’, following which a protestor said, “Things won’t solve if you shout.”
Further enraged, Mamata rebuked the women and shouted, “Doesn’t the CPI(M) feel ashamed to politicise the issue? Those who are arrested in connection with the incident (rape and murder) are CPI(M) supporters,” and sped off in her vehicle.
The opposition and intellectuals were quick to condemn Mamata’s remarks. “Criminals have only one colour, that is black. They are neither red nor green,” remarked social activist Bolan Ganguly.
“Even if the protestors belong to the CPI(M), don’t they have the right to protest? Everyone knows the accused switched loyalties after the change of guard in the state. Minutes before claiming the accused were CPI(M) supporters, she had said criminals have no colour. She is contradicting herself,” theatre personality Koushik Sen said.
Significantly, the main accused Ansar Ali is a known Trinamool supporter in the area and is a relative of Trinamool-controlled Kirtipur II gram panchayat head Sayeeda Bibi and her husband, Kirtipur II block Trinamool president Asraf Ali Mollah.
Moments after stepping into Kamduni, Mamata practically switched over to poll gear and held the CPI(M) responsible for the current lawless situation in Barasat.
“These areas are fully unplanned. The CPI(M) captured vast tracts of land and doled them out to any Tom, Dick and Harry, without bothering about the area’s development. There are no police stations or proper communication along these areas and people are paying the price for the CPI(M)’s misrule,” Mamata said.
“We would try to develop this area in a planned manner. At the same time, we would ask the Border Security Force to step up vigil as criminals from across the border commit rape and murder here and then escape to the other side. I would like to congratulate people as they are becoming more aware. Previously people could not even file FIRs,” Mamata added.
Mamata had been facing flak from the opposition on her alleged ‘indifference’ over the matter. Political circles feel the fact that pro-Left intellectuals and opposition leaders had been visiting Kamduni over the last few days and representatives of five ultra-Left groups conducting a rally in Kamduni on Sunday, finally made Mamata succumb to pressure.
Food minister Jyotipriya Mullick and Basirhat MP Haji Nurul Islam had earlier faced the wrath of protestors and APDR activists sat on a dharna at Writers’ buildings.
Earlier chief secretary Sanjay Mitra had said the government would seek capital punishment for the culprits.