|Krishna; his mother Padmamala outside her home in Tehatta. Picture by Sourav Bhattacharya
Tehatta, Dec. 19: Chanda Sharma, the widow of the November 14 Tehatta police firing victim, will receive a compensation cheque of Rs 2 lakh from Mamata Banerjee tomorrow but a kilometre away, 76-year-old Padmamala Ghosh will have nothing but despair.
On the night of March 20, 1997, Padmamala’s second son Krishna was gunned down allegedly by the police who mistook him for a robber. But 15 years on, she is yet to receive any financial help from the administration, struggling to make ends meet though the police have “confessed” it was a “mistake”.
“The police killed my son Krishna thinking him to be a robber. The Left Front government did nothing for us. We appeal to Mamata Banerjee to save our lives,” said Lalmohon Ghosh, 81, Krishna’s father.
Krishna was gunned down at the prime of his youth at 21 by the then SDPO, Subrata Bandhopadhyay, when he accompanied a group guarding their village at night.
Krishna’s death left his family of five in a lurch as he was the only earning member. “His elder brother Nemai lived separately. The family comprised elderly parents, a brother and a mentally challenged sister”, said Tapan Sarkar, a neighbour who was with Krishna when he was shot dead.
While Ashoke Sharma’s family will be given the compensation and a job, Krishna’s father still waits for any financial help. Sailesh, the SDPO of Tehatta, fired on being chased by a mob, leading to the death of Sharma.
Krishna’s father Lalmohon said: “Former local CPM MLA and then panchayat minister Kamalendu Sannyal had come to our home and assured us compensation from the government. But nothing has been done,”
“We only got Rs 10,000 from panchayat pradhan Deben Bhattacharjee. But is that enough?” he asked.
Krishna’s brother Rajkumar, who earns Rs 100 a day as a farm labourer, keeps the kitchen fire burning in the Ghosh family.
“Roj kaaj thakey na, tai amar rojgar diye buro baap-maa aar pagol bon ke bachiye rakhatai amar kachey ekhon baro challenge (I don’t earn every day. So, keeping my ols parents and mentally challenged sister alive is a challenge for me),” Rajkumar said. “A lot of hue and cry was made over my brother’s death. A lot of assurance was given. But nothing was done.”
Local Trinamul leader and Nadia secretary of the party, Tapas Saha, said: “We will consider a compensation if they approach us.”
Tapan Sarkar, who now owns a grocery shop and was with Krishna on the night when he was shot dead, said: “We were a team of 12 villagers. We were waiting near a saw mill on hospital road to intercept a gang that had a little while ago raided some houses in a neighbouring village. It was past midnight when we saw a jeep coming with his headlights switched off. We stopped the car. The SDPO came out and fired from a close range.”
He added: “We started running. Krishna was hit and he fell down.”
According to Tapan, the police in Tehatta were under “tremendous pressure” from the administration because of Bangladeshi robbers who sneaked into Nadia through the unfenced border 5km away.
Rajkumar said: “A few months ago, the then superintendent of police Debkumar Ganguly confessed it was a mistake on their part.”
Ganguly could not be contacted.