Mamata questions SFI protests
Victim’s family demands CBI probe; party cries foul
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday questioned protests by Student Federation of India (SFI), student wing of the CPM, over the death of its leader Sudipto Gupta saying it was an accident even as Kolkata police called for media restraint amid allegations that he was beaten to death in custody.
As the news continued to evoke strong protests, Sudipto’s father Pranab Gupta and the CPM maintained his death was not an accident and that he was done to death. The CPM has demanded a judicial probe while the victim’s family has called for CBI investigation.
Protestors blocked busy roads in Kolkata and other parts of the state for 15 minutes at 11:00 am. The blockade was peaceful, police sources said.
The CPM also called for a 12-hour general strike at Garia and Tollygunge, where Gupta lived and studied during his school and college days
With preliminary reports indicating that Gupta’s death was due to head injury, the Kolkata police urged the media not to jump to a conclusion as investigations were underway.
“Our appeal to the media is please don’t jump to a conclusion because the way the incident is being projected is not right. We have launched a thorough investigation and the forensic team has visited the spot,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Hqs) Javed Shamim said.Asked whether the chief minister’s statement that Gupta died after being hit by a lamp post would affect the investigation, Shamim said, “Why should it? I on the basis of the primary report had said the same thing.”
The official said that preliminary autopsy report had suggested that the death was due to head injury after being hit by a blunt object.
Speaking to the media at the Bangalore international airport, the West Bengal chief minister said Sudipto’s death was due to an accident. “It was not police assault. It was an unfortunate accident,” she said.
On the SFI observing a student strike, Banerjee said, “Why? for what purpose?”
Banerjee was in the city to confer West Bengal’s prestigious “Vishes Sangeet Mahasamman” award on eminent playback singer Manna Dey at his residence.
Meanwhile, it was a dampener for SFI activists who had planned a protest against Banerjee as by the time they arrived at Manna Dey’s residence, she had made a quick exit.
Earlier, the activists had taken out a rally at the Mysore Bank circle where they burnt Banerjee’s effigy.
SFI state secretary Hulli Ramesh decried the manner in which the West Bengal government was “playing down” the incident.
“The government has scrapped the annual elections of student unions in universities and made it once in two years to weaken the student movement. The government is suppressing the voice of the youth,” he alleged. DYSF state secretary Rajashekar Murthy was also present.