Artists, scholars and social activists across the spectrum expressed outrage on Friday over West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's response to the recent killings of two senior leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Bardhaman which, they claimed was well in line with her “habit of denying tragedies like farmers' suicides or condoning offences like the recent shocking rape in Kolkata.”
In a statement on the recent developments in the State, they expressed shock on learning of the “brutal murder” in Bardhaman of Pradip Tah and Kamal Gayen “carried out by a group of Trinamool Congress supporters.”
“The murder took place when the two victims were leading a procession in support of the general strike by the nation's working class on 28 February. We find it especially outrageous that Ms. Mamata Banerjee, the State's Chief Minister, should have immediately come out to protect the murderers, so that there can be no credibility now left in the promised effort by the police to bring the culprits to book. It seems to be well in line with the Chief Minister's habit of denying tragedies like farmers' suicides or condoning offences like the recent shocking rape in Kolkata.”
Charging that Ms. Banerjee was “obviously set on thwarting any expression of opposition or discontent against her misrule by open use of terror and falsification,” they said they were “confident that the people of West Bengal will remain in the forefront in defending democratic rights despite all odds.”
The signatories include Prof. Irfan Habib, Prof. Prabhat Patnaik, Prof. C.P. Chandrasekhar, Saeed Mirza, Teesta Setalvad and Prof. Jayati Ghosh.
Asked for her comments on the murder of the two CPI(M) leaders, one of whom was a former MLA, Ms. Banerjee had told journalists that they were “not butchered” and the incident was the outcome of an “internal clash.”
She had also earlier said that the rape of a 37-year-old was “staged” to “malign” her government. As for the farmers' suicides — 35 so far, according to the latest reports — her contention is that only one has taken his life so far.