Mamata and minister Aroop Biswas hold a basket full of chicks meant for distribution among traders at a programme in Baruipur on Friday. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Calcutta, March 22: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today quashed allegations of spurt in rapes, saying “rape barche bolchen, population toh barche (you are saying rapes are on the rise, but population is also increasing)”.
She underlined the need to welcome “adhunikata (modernisation)”, symbolised by the ubiquitous malls and multiplexes.
“Rape barche bolchen, population toh barche. Bidhan Roy er amole ja loke chilo, ekhon ki tai ache? Udbastu somoshya chilo onar shomoy. Ja korte cheyechilen, keu birodhita koreni (You are saying rapes are on the rise, but population is also increasing. Are people the same as they were during Bidhan Roy’s time? There were refugee problems during his time. Nobody opposed what he wanted to do,” Mamata said in the Assembly when Left MLAs questioned the omission of law and order from the governor’s speech and alleged that the number of rapes was increasing.
“Ekhon lok barche, gari barche, shopping mall barche, Inox barche. Adhunikata ke toh welcome korte hobe. Chhele meyera modern hochchhe (Now, people are increasing, cars are increasing, shopping malls are increasing, Inoxes are increasing. We have to welcome modernisation. Boys and girls are becoming modern),” the chief minister added.
Mamata, who is also the home minister, said more people were coming out and lodging police complaints. “Social awareness has increased. Earlier, girls used to feel shy. Now, girls are coming out and lodging police complaints. This is a good sign.”
The chief minister, who had dubbed last year’s Park Street rape “sajano ghotona (fabricated incident)” and dismissed a Katwa lady’s rape complaint as false, reeled off statistics today to drive home her point that Calcutta was safer than the other four metros.
In her reply to discussions on the governor’s address, Mamata cited data from the National Crime Records Bureau. “In 2011, there were 38 rape cases in Calcutta. In the same year, 453 cases were reported in Delhi, 221 in Mumbai, 97 in Bangalore and 76 in Chennai. Investigations are on in many cases. In some cases, complaints are withdrawn and some are not genuine. There is no reason to be complacent. We don’t want a single case to happen,” she said.
The chief minister referred to the data on rape cases in Bengal to bolster her point that such crimes were more during Left rule. “Apnader shomoy theke bolchi (I am quoting data from the time you were in power)…. In 2008, 2,228 rape cases took place in Bengal, 2,293 in 2009 and 2,279 in 2010. In 2011, 1,650 cases were reported and till November 2012, 1,836 cases. Tahole barlo ki komlo (So has it gone up or come down?)” Mamata asked.
Opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra of the CPM said he differed with Mamata’s comments and appeared to ridicule the chief minister’s fleeting Assembly appearances.
“It is her academic theory drawn from her learning and research. Her thinking is not linked to ours. If she comes to the Assembly and says these things, we feel enlightened, otherwise we are disheartened,” Mishra said.
Congress MLA Manas Bhunia said: “We don’t agree with her views.”
Today, Mamata arrived around 15 minutes after Mishra’s speech on the governor’s address ended. Mishra spoke of issues such as the alleged West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation scam and the rise in chit funds. “I have been raising these issues but am yet to get any reply,” Mishra said.
Mamata did not address the Opposition’s questions on the two issues.
The chief minister got involved in an argument with Left MLAs on the murder of a police officer in Garden Reach. “His killer is behind bars. I am not like you. A CID probe is on,” she said.
When the Left parties demanded a CBI inquiry, Mamata said: “Why this love for the CBI? Did you call the CBI during Nandigram, Singur and Netai?”