A day after a student leader of the Students Federation of India (SFI) died in police custody, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tried to pass off the incident as an accident here on Wednesday, stating that many of her own party workers had died in the past after impact with lampposts while travelling in trains.

Ms. Banerjee, who arrived at the State-run SSKM Hospital where the body of Sudipta Gupta was kept, left in a huff shortly after in the face of protests by slogan-shouting SFI members gathered there.

“It does not matter which political party an activist belongs to, my sympathy is for everyone… I have come here to offer my condolences,” she said.

Asked to comment on the CPI(M)’s demand of a judicial inquiry into the matter, she evaded any direct response, saying: “Any death is unfortunate. This is also unfortunate. I will not say anything more than this.”

Post-mortem report

While Ms. Banerjee implied that the death was due to impact with a lamppost, as the city police claimed even before the post-mortem examination of the body was conducted, the report later revealed that Gupta had suffered injuries in different parts of his body and serious injuries in the forehead and the rear of the skull.

It only endorsed the allegations of the SFI leadership and Left parties that he was beaten up by the police while being pushed out of the vehicle carrying those who had courted arrest to a correctional home in the city.

The protests were against the decision of the State government to put on hold student union elections.