Says she has an habit of commenting on matters before probe is over

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s dismissal of the custodial death of Students Federation of India (SFI) leader Sudipta Gupta as an “accident” and “a petty matter” provoked strong reactions here on Thursday with Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra stating that Ms. Banerjee was habituated to commenting on matters before the investigations were over.

“The conclusions reached by the Chief Minister are premature. She never waits for the reports before making a comment,” Dr. Mishra said at a protest march organised by the Left Front. The protesters marched from Garia, near the residence of Sudipta Gupta, to Netaji Nagar where he spent his college days.

Withdraw comment: PCC

Demanding that Ms. Banerjee “should immediately withdraw her comment,” West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president Pradip Bhattacharya said that it was reminiscent of her description of the rape of a 37-year-old woman in the Park Street area of the city as “staged.”

“Far away from Bengal, in Bangalore, if the Chief Minister passes such remarks when the investigation process is going on, it spells trouble for the State. All the time, she is trying to influence the police so that the police cannot do an impartial inquiry,” Mr. Bhattacharya said, adding “such remarks are not expected from a Chief Minister.”

Police apppeal

He pointed out that the Chief Minister has spoken out about the incident in a manner that was contrary to the appeal of Jawed Shamim, Joint Commissioner (Headquarters), Kolkata Police, that “conclusive remarks” on the incident should not be made before the investigations were completed. Mr. Bhattacharya said that he was apprehensive that Mr. Shamim would suffer the same fate as Damayanti Sen, who was transferred not too long after it was established that it was a case of rape.

Protests and demonstrations continued for the second consecutive day here with the Left remaining firm in its demand for a judicial inquiry into the death.

There was a 12-hour shutdown in the southern parts of the city in response to a strike called by the SFI to protest against Gupta’s death.