The High Court judge on Thursday expressed his clear irritation with the state government and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in two successive hearings for sharing the stage at a rally with Anubrata Mondal and Monirul Islam, both of whom are under trial for two different cases, and not taking measures to conduct fair investigations.
Islam is under trial for the killing of three brothers and the attempt to murder of the fourth brother of a family in 2010. Islam went on to stand for elections and became an MLA in 2011 from Labhpur. The judge clearly said the investigation has not been satisfactory as the police have not filed a chargesheet, and neither have they recorded the statement of the fourth brother who escaped from the violence. Ideally, as the ones who filed the case, the members of the family would naturally seem to be the first people seen as evidence. Islam, at a rally in 2011, had also said he would not think twice before beheading or killing someone if the situation demanded it.
In the second hearing lined up in the Parui case, where the main accused is Birbhum Anubrata Mondal, over the killing of Sagar Ghosh, the father of estranged TMC activist Hriday Ghosh. Mondal, in a rally in Kasba in Kolkata in 2013, had also asked his supporters to burn the houses of anyone who wanted to fight election as an independent candidate, and bomb the police if they want to stop them. The court had asked Mamata Banerjee to see the CD of the rally and take a stand herself, something she has not bothered to do. On Thursday, the judge asked the DG Police who is heading the SIT team probing the killings to be present on Friday at 10.30 am at the High Court, to explain why Mondal has not been arrested yet.
But what Judge Dipankar Dutta asked further is a report of the situation of anarchy and partisan officials in Bengal. After asking why Mamata, as a constitutional authority, would share the stage with an accused, he further asked, “Is the state in safe hands? Is the DG testing our patience?” He asked if Mamata was challenging the court. If the chief minister is a constitutional position, a High Court judge is as well, and Mamata has to be answerable to the judiciary. Mamata had said earlier Mondal is a “good boy”. The judge said, when the chief minister would share the stage with the accused and someone who has given statements against the police force, he wanted to ask the DG if the police would have the guts to touch Mondal after this.
The government advocate asked for an in-camera hearing for the DG, something that the court has decline. Dutta said the people of the state deserve an answer for what has gone wrong with the investigation.
On the other hand, a group of Trinamool Congress (TMC) district level leaders on Thursday physically assaulted Election Commission workers Shiddhartha Mondal and Dilip Shah, and EC officer in-charge Ajit Das during a bike rally in Manikchowk Area in South Malda constituency. Though the TMC leaders initially refused to accept the incident as correct, local news cameras showed the incident happened in front of the TMC candidate in the constituency, Moazzem Hossain, with the participation of other district leaders Manikchowk TMC youth secretary Mukuleshwar Reheman and Nimai Mondal.
The tussle began when the EC workers stopped a bike rally in support of Hossain in the area, for which the TMC allegedly did not have the required permissions. But Hossain later said he was not present at the incident though the cameras showed it to be a gross lie. The BDO has now filed an FIR with the district magistrate and the EC has asked for a detailed report of the event within 24 hours. The EC on Wednesday also asked for the tapes of Mamata’s rallies where she has repeatedly asked the people of the state to challenge the officials of the commission. Such an incident is not the first of its kind, as it closely follows the beating up of EC workers in Howrah on April 1 when they tried to open a TMC banner.
Though no official statement has been made by the party yet, Mamata’s call for “revenge” at successive rallies after the EC order to transfer officials earlier has charged up TMC workers. TMC tourism minister Krishnendu Chowdhury has said he would call for restraint from the workers and officials. However, one must understand the TMC leader Mamata Banerjee has set up an alibi by saying any law and order issue in the state would not be her responsibility after the EC has brought in new SPs in various districts. The incident has occurred in Malda where SP RK Jadav was transferred to be replaced by SP Rupesh Kumar.
Derek O’Brien gave a statement to a local news channel saying the opposition’s allegations were merely looking for “straw in the wind” as they were on the backfoot in the state. The party was yet to get details of the incident and they would play by the laws.
The above incidents that are unfolding in Bengal present an image of Mamata and the ruling party as arrogant in less than one term, like the face of the CPI (M) after ruling the state for 34 years. Mamata and her party are challenging the various pillars of the constitution including the EC, the judiciary and even the basic right of the citizens to fight the elections independently if one intends to. People are stripped of their fundamental right to dissent, to question their authority or ask for a free and fair trial when heinous crimes like murder and rapes take place in the society. An unleashing a reign of terror in parts of Bengal seems complete now.