In a rare incident, Bally police has begun a case against a local Trinamool Congress leader for making a casteist remark against a washerman.
Bijay Kumar Rajak, the son of Nawal Kishore Rajak, a washerman, lodged a complaint against a promoter and a local Trinamool Congress leader Ranjan Mukherjee. Mukherjee, who is on the run, has been accused under a non-bailable offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
These offences stem from the practice of untouchability, which is a long-standing scourge of Indian society, against which a number of social reformers and political leaders, including MK Gandhi, fought throughout their lives. The nature of these complaints is so serious that junior officers cannot conduct these probes.
Bijay Kumar Rajak said that they had been living at 50, Ghosh Road near Lalbaba College for the past forty years and running a laundry business there. Mukherjee, who had been eyeing that plot, wanted to evict them and even threatened them time and again after he failed to persuade them to shift elsewhere.“On June 10, Mukherjee, along with his four associates, came to our residence and wanted to know when we would leave the place. When we turned down his proposal, he started abusing my father and other members of my family referring to our profession and caste. He also broke the tiles of our roof. My 60-year-old father, who is physically challenged, was also injured in the process,” alleged Bijay Kumar. “The attack and the abuses were carried out in front of locals. It has left us deeply humiliated. We have almost stopped coming out publicly and I have stopped going to the local club where I was a regular,” he added.
“On receiving the complaint, we have started a case according to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Since it can’t be probed by someone below the rank of a DSP, the ACP (headquarters) is investigating the case,” said an officer of the Howrah Police Commissionerate.
“We generally do not receive such complaints,” remarked said Ajey Ranade, Howrah city police commissioner.
“I never made any reference to his caste. It is a baseless allegation,” Mukherjee said on Tuesday.
State irrigation minister and one of the district Trinamool leaders Rajib Banerjee said that if the complaint was found true, the party would take strong action against Mukherjee. District party president and agriculture marketing minister Arup Roy also supported Banerjee.
“It is a cognisable offence if such abuses are hurled publicly,” said Arunabha Ghosh, a lawyer of Calcutta high court and a Congress leader.