|Asok Ganguly (left) and Naparajit Mukherjee when he was the state police chief
Calcutta, Oct. 21: The Bengal government has chosen former police chief Naparajit Mukherjee as a member of the state human rights commission that is headed by Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, who has embarrassed the government several times with his recommendations.
Justice (retd) Ganguly, handpicked by Mamata Banerjee, had caused the government some uneasy moments by recommending compensation to West Midnapore farmer Shiladitya Chowdhury, who was arrested for asking the chief minister about fertiliser prices, and Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, who forwarded a Facebook post lampooning Mamata.
Sources said the chief minister was “unhappy” with the manner in which Justice Ganguly had been running the commission and former director-general of police Mukherjee’s appointment against the backdrop was significant.
“The former DGP is known to be close to the chief minister. His appointment as a human rights commission member was done with the purpose of keeping a check on Justice Ganguly,” a source said.
The rights panel, which has three members, had asked the state government in August to pay Rs 2 lakh as compensation to Shiladitya, the farmer arrested after the chief minister branded him a Maoist at a rally in Belpahari, West Midnapore. Shiladitya had asked Mamata at the public meeting what the state government was doing about rising fertiliser prices.
The commission had also recommended that the state government pay Rs 50,000 each to Mahapatra and his septuagenarian neighbour Subrata Sengupta for police action against them in April 2012 after they circulated the Facebook post that allegedly lampooned the chief minister.
Justice Ganguly had said in August that the change in government was more like “a change of jersey”. “Rajjye pala bodol holo, 34 bochorer bam front sashon-er aboshan ghotiye. Kintu ami etake jama bodol-i bolbo (There has been a change of guard in Bengal after 34 years of Left rule. But I will call it a change of jersey),” he had said.
Sources said these decisions by the rights panel were unanimous, meaning Justice Ganguly, former chief secretary S.N. Roy and Justice (retired) N.C. Sil were on the same page.
Former top cop Mukherjee will replace Roy, whose term ends on November 16.
“The term of Justice Sil will be over on November 1 and there is a buzz that someone close to the chief minister will fill up the vacancy,” an official said.
According to him, if the chief minister includes in the commission two persons of her choice, Justice Ganguly will become a minority. “If two of the members are the chief minister’s appointees, the chances of decisions against the government will be minimised,” the official said.
A committee — comprising the chief minister, the Speaker and the leader of the Opposition — decides on the appointment of the members of the state human rights panel.
At today’s meeting of the committee in the Assembly, when Mamata proposed the name of Mukherjee, Speaker Biman Banerjee approved it but leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra protested.
Mishra said a retired police officer should not be made a member of the rights body as there were several instances of human rights violations against those in uniform, it was learnt.