West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has added a whole new chapter to her book of controversial comments.
On Thursday, asked about the possibility of a judicial probe into the recent death of a student activist – allegedly in police custody – she said, “Why? To what purpose? It is a small, petty matter”.
The chief minister had been accosted by reporters in Bengaluru, where she had gone to meet veteran artiste Manna Dey, and she reacted with a degree of exasperation.
“We have said it was an unfortunate incident. It was actually an accident. There was no police atrocity,” she told them.
The comment triggered a fresh storm in Kolkata, which had been witnessing angry demonstrations over the death of 22-year-old Sudipta Gupta — a member of the CPM-backed students’ body Students’ Federation of India — since Tuesday.
It was also the latest in a series of remarks the chief minister has made over issues ranging from children’s death to rapes, which has had the opposition and the civil society up in arms.
“She lacks sensitivity and that’s why she has described the incident as petty,” said Sujan Chakraborty, CPM state committee member.
The opposition parties also alleged that Banerjee’s statement would influence police investigation.
“How can a neutral investigation be possible when the chief minister said it was an accident and there had been no police atrocity?” said Congress leader Abdul Mannan.
“Why did the chief minister visit the hospital morgue before the postmortem of the student? Was it intended to influence the investigation, like her comment on Thursday?” demanded CPM central committee member Md Salim.