No one is above the law — this was chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s firm response to the Ficci (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) request to release the seven directors of Kolkata’s Advanced Medicare Research Institute (AMRI).
The Delhi-based chamber of commerce had taken the plea that the directors had not been involved in the hospital operations. So their arrest following the December 9 fire, that killed 90 people, would erode the industry’s confidence.
But Banerjee, who took a personal initiative in ordering the arrests and cancelling the hospital’s license, refused to budge.
“Please forgive me, the law would take its course. Even I should not cross my limits,” she said on Tuesday.
Calling Ficci’s request not to take action against the directors “not right”, Banerjee said, “If anybody is a terrorist, he remains a terrorist. He cannot be allowed to go scot free.”
As for Ficci’s apprehension of “negative sentiments” among investors, Banerjee retorted, “We want industry. But we do not want industry that kills people.”
The industry itself remained largely supportive of the chief minister’s stand, with Tata group chairman Ratan Tata — who has had his differences with Banerjee — backing her strongly. “The swift and firm action of the chief minister is commendable,” Tata had said on December 11.
On Tuesday, Tejomoy Roy Chowdhury, president of the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce & Industry agreed with Ficci.
But Sandipan Chakrabarty, president of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, said, “It cannot be denied that some illegal operations were going on there, which resulted in the tragedy. No one should try to influence the law.”