Power minister Manish Gupta distanced himself from the report he sent to the Centre on the police firing on July 21, 1993 that killed 13 Youth Congress workers in the city while deposing before the July 21 commission on Tuesday. Gupta was the home secretary when the firing took place.
On Tuesday, Gupta said he merely followed the orders of the then state government while preparing the report and refused to identify the police minister at that time. “The report I sent to the Centre was not my personal opinion. It was the response of the then state government. I merely did what the government asked me to do,” Gupta said before the commission.
The power minister, however, claimed he could not recollect the events that unfolded on the fateful day and said all events are recorded. He even ‘failed’ to recollect the name of the police minister, his immediate boss, at that time. “Whatever occurred during that time is in the records. I am not able to recollect the sequence of events. But as a minister, I can never support the firing,” Gupta said.
What has astounded political circles is why the former home secretary refused to name Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, who was the police minister when the firing took place. On June 11, urban development minister Bobby Hakim (then Youth Congress secretary) blamed Bhattacharya for the firing. “Not only the police, but also the home minister and ruling party leaders had a hand in the incident. The July 21 incident was a dark chapter in Bengal’s political history. For the sake of humanity, let the guilty be given exemplary punishment,” Hakim told the commission last Tuesday.
Hakim had also said some media vehicles took the injured to SSKM Hospital and he was carried in one of the vehicles. Commission sources said the probe panel might summon journalists, who were present at the time of firing, for hearing.