Asks villagers to shut up, accuses them of indulging in politics

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday faced angry protests by local people during a surprise visit to Kamduni village at Barasat in North 24 Parganas.

Ms. Banerjee, who had gone to meet family members of the 20-year-old college student gang-raped and killed on June 7, lost her cool and accused the protesters of “indulging in politics.”

The protesters, mostly women, raised slogans against the deteriorating law and order situation in the area. They had intended to ask why Ms. Banerjee had not tried to get a better understanding of the situation by talking to them earlier.

When a few of them tried to pose some questions, she said, “Shut up. Do not engage in politics. Is not the CPI(M) ashamed of engaging in politics over the issue?”

Ms. Banerjee said those accused of the crime “were associated with the CPI(M)” and were its supporters. She then left the village in a huff. Minutes later, she told journalists that lack of planning by the CPI(M) during the 34 years of Left Front rule had left large areas without any police station and incidents like the one at Kamduni were a consequence of that.

Asked to comment on Ms. Banerjee’s remarks, CPI(M) State Secretary Biman Bose later told journalists: “I cannot say that the Chief Minister has lost her head. ”

The Chief Minister’s visit to the village 10 days after the gruesome incident was kept under wraps considering the anger and the outrage among the villagers. As a State Cabinet Minister and a Trinamool Congress MP had faced demonstrations when they visited the area a day after the incident, it was decided not to announce her visit in advance.

Though Ms. Banerjee had met two brothers of the victim at the State Secretariat last week, the family and other villagers had demanded that the Chief Minister should visit them.

Ms. Banerjee rode pillion on a motorcycle for some distance while entering the village. But despite her visit, the discontent among the people remained. “If she [Ms. Banerjee] did not have the time to listen to us why did she come here? Did she come only to show her face?” an agitated woman, who got into an argument with Ms. Banerjee, said.