Twelve people were remanded by a city court to custody Wednesday for violence here in which a policeman was shot dead during a clash between Trinamool Congress and Congress student activists at a college. The opposition parties slammed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's alleged silence on the issue.
While two prime accused, charged with the murder, were remanded to police custody till Feb 26, the rest, booked under charges of attempt to murder and rioting, were sent to judicial custody till Feb 19 by the court.
Tapas Chowdhury, a sub-inspector attached to the special branch, was shot from close range while trying to control clashing students in Harimohan Ghose College in the Garden Reach area Tuesday.
The violence in the college erupted over the issue of picking up nomination forms for the students' union election. Another person was also injured in the firing.
Television channels aired footage of a youth in red shirt rushing into a melee and firing, before escaping from the spot. Prime suspect Mohammad Shubhaan was presented before the court Wednesday and remanded in police custody till Feb 26. Except for the presence of police, the college was almost empty Wednesday.
Armed policemen were posted in large numbers in the entire area surrounding the college and patrol vans made repeated rounds. "The situation is peaceful. There is no tension," Deputy Commissioner (Port) of Police V. Solomon Nesakumar told IANS.
In a related development, a case under non-bailable offences was initiated against local Trinamool Congress councillor Mohammad Iqbal. Iqbal has been charged with rioting, attempt to murder and certain sections of the Arms Act. He was seen at the spot of the incident, threatening a policeman and mobilising his supporters
Video footage aired by television channels showed Iqbal standing beside Sheikh Shubhaan, the man who was caught on TV firing the bullet that allegedly killed the policeman.
West Bengal Urban Development Minister and Trinamool leader Firhad Hakim, however, said that he did not believe that Iqbal had any connection to the incident.
Political parties continued to play the blame game accusing their rivals for the incident.
While the Trinamool Congress accused supporters of the Left Front and the Congress of being behind the attack, the opposition accused the ruling party of shielding the guilty.
"There is enough evidence of how the ruling party is giving shelter to these goons," Biman Bose, chairperson of the state Left Front said. Minoti Chowdhury, wife of the slain policeman, demanded the intervention of the chief minister.
"She (Banerjee) should look into the issue that what kind of security is provided to police personnel. Policemen on duty are not provided arms while those on the streets have access to them," she said at her home in Thakurpukur area in the southern part of the city.
Banerjee, who has so far not made any direct comment on the matter, is slated to meet the family soon.
The Trinamool supremo attracted severe criticism for her "silence" on the issue from her political rivals.
"Why is she silent?... she has not bothered to spare even a couple of minutes for a policeman who lost his life in the line of duty," Leader of the Opposition in West Bengal Assembly and CPI-M leader Surya Kanta Mishra said.
Union Minister of State for Urban Development Deepa Dasmunsi of the Congress also slammed Banerjee's response to the incident.
The policeman's daughter Tanushree and son Tamal were still inconsolable. Both demanded severe punishment for the man who killed their father.
"I want him punished, I want him punished, I want him punished," said Tamal, a student of Class 7.
Police Commissioner R.K. Pachnanda, who met the bereaved family, said the government would be offering Tanushree a job.
Described by colleagues as an "earnest officer", Chowdhury joined the police department in 1984 as a constable.