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Kolkata Police in damage control mode

Marcus Dam
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Attempt to shift attention from Mamata's rape remarks?

POLICE OPERATION:Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Damayanti Sen (left) and Joint Commissioner of Police (Headquarters) Jawed Shamim address journalists at the State Secretariat in Kolkata on Monday.— Photo: Sushanta Patronobish
POLICE OPERATION:Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Damayanti Sen (left) and Joint Commissioner of Police (Headquarters) Jawed Shamim address journalists at the State Secretariat in Kolkata on Monday.— Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

In what appeared to be an attempt at damage control even as investigations into alleged rape of a 37-year-old woman in the city earlier this month have negated West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's claims that the incident was “staged” and was a move to “malign” her government, the police said here on Monday that Ms. Banerjee has “never interfered in our cases” though a senior official admitted that what she wants is done.

“Obviously what the Chief Minister wants happens, but she has never interfered in our cases,” said Kolkata Joint Commissioner (Headquarters) Jawed Shamim shortly after a meeting at the State Secretariat between Ms. Banerjee and senior police officers, including Commissioner of Police R. K. Pachnanda, where matters related to the incident were discussed.

Just like those uttered by the Chief Minister, the remarks made by Mr. Pachnanda less than two hours after Ms. Banerjee's on February 16 have also drawn severe criticism. He had said the purpose of playing up the incident was to spread “misinformation” and to “criticise” the police and government. Both suffered a loss of face when police inquiries largely substantiated the allegations of the rape victim.

 It was left to Mr. Shamim and Joint Commissioner (Crime) Damayanti Sen to go out of their way to tell a Press conference shortly after the Monday meeting with Ms. Banerjee that every move of the police is “collective”, “under the guidance” of the Police Chief, besides the Chief Minister not interfering in investigations.

While questions have been raised about whether the officers addressed the media at Ms. Banerjee's promptings, Mr. Pachnanda was conspicuous by his absence at the Press conference even as the State Secretariat corridors were abuzz with speculation that he might be asked to relinquish office. Later he declined to answer questions by journalists when asked whether he was resigning.

The assertions of the Joint Commissioners were as much an attempt to undo the damage caused by Mr. Pachnanda's remarks as they were to shift the attention from the Chief Minister's premature remarks. But they were also a personal response by Ms. Sen to how a section of the media has been reporting investigations into the incident which were “undermining” her “professional capabilities” — something which had left her “extremely disturbed”.

It was being made out that she had been “working out of the organisation and as an individual which is totally false”, Ms Sen said, adding, “My entire organisation is working with me and that is why our team has been successful in cracking the case…I have always worked in the Kolkata Police as a professional, not as an individual….. Sadly investigations are being hampered. We are yet to arrest more of the accused persons, but what has become more important is my personal issue and I feel extremely disturbed about it.”


  • Police, Mamata suffered loss of face when probe largely substantiated rape victim's allegations

  • Mamata had claimed rape was “staged” as part of a move to “malign” her government


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