A day after party MP and Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee was slapped, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders justified the thrashing of the youth arguing it was the spontaneous reaction of the audience who obviously were not from Bharat Sevasram Sangha or Ramakrishna Mission.
On Sunday, within seconds of hitting Abhishek Banerjee, the Trinamool leaders and supporters on the dais engaged in a free-for-all to thrash the attacked Debasish Acharya with hands, sticks and chairs. Acharya is now fighting for his life at a district hospital in East Midnapore.
"The thrashing was a reaction to the condemnable incident (slapping) and could have been worse. Not everyone comes to politics from Bharat Sevasram Sangha or Ramakrishna Mission. Nothing big happened and the youth is alive. What happened is nothing," said Subrata Mukherjee, vice president of Trinamool Congress and state panchayat minister.
Another prominent minister, Firhad Hakim, said the incident could also be a conspiracy by a section of the media.The panchayat minister even compared the incident with the violence following the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi. "When Indira Gandhi was killed so many people died. Here nothing of that sort happened. The youth is alive," added Subrata Mukherjee.
The statements from the Trinamool ministers drew sharp reaction from Opposition leaders.
Former mayor of Kolkata and prominent advocate Bikash Bhattacharyya volunteered to provide legal support to Acharya.
"The act of slapping can't be supported. But those who have brutally thrashed Acharya should also be arrested and punished. They can all be seen in TV footage and are easily to identify," said CPI(M) central committee member and Lok Sabha MP Md Selim.
"These statements from a senior minister are designed to incite the party supporters. Supporting the Gujarat riots is only one step away if this position is accepted," remarked Congress leader Arunava Ghosh.
Meanwhile, Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee stated that he has forgiven the youth at a personal level.
Murder charges slapped on attacker
Police booked Acharya on four charges, including that of attempting to murder Abhishek Banerjee.
Apart from section 307 of the IPC, which relates to attempt to murder, Acharya has been booked under sections 447 (punishment for criminal trespass), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation).
However, police have booked the Trinamool workers who almost lynched 22-year-old boy with lighter charges, including attempt to commit culpable homicide, under section 308 IPC.
(With inputs from Snigdhendu Bhattacharya)