Former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Friday defended his party’s move to stand by the Madhyamgram gang-rape victim’s family because the Trinamul government did nothing to save the teenager.
“A hue and cry is being raised that we are trying to politicise the Madhyamgram incident and that we should not have played politics on this issue. This is ridiculous. A girl’s modesty was outraged and eventually she died. The government did nothing to save her. The police tried to prevent the family from keeping the body with them. As right-thinking people, what should have our party done?’’ the CPM politburo member asked supporters on the occasion of party organ Gana-shakti’s 48th foundation day at Promode Dasgupta Bhavan.
The teenager was gang-raped twice in as many days in Madhyamgram in October — the second time while she was returning home after reporting the crime to the police.
On December 23, she allegedly set herself on fire following threats from relatives and friends of the accused to drop the case. The girl died from burn injuries at RG Kar hospital on December 31, triggering protests across the city.
Bhattacharjee said: “We had to hit the streets in order to stand by the affected family. Otherwise, these people (Trinamul) would have either pressured them to retract or would have bought them over as in the Kamduni (rape and murder) case. The Trinamul government’s acts forced us to hit the roads.”
He said criminals have begun to feel that the Trinamul government wouldn’t run without their support and, hence, they could get away with murder.
The question being asked now was whether criminals and hoodlums would triumph over civil elements of society under the Trinamul dispensation, he added.
“We have to ponder whether criminals would triumph over sanity and civility. That’s because hoodlums are ruling the roost. And they are getting support from the government. That’s why they have started to believe that the Trinamul government is there because of their support.”
Bhattacharjee picked holes in the government’s performance report, saying the state has moved on reverse gear over the past two-and-a-half-years in terms of agricultural and industrial growth and employment generation.
“Just like law and order, Bengal is going down on agriculture, industry and job fronts. Nothing had happened in these two-and-a-half years that can bring cheer on the faces of Bengal’s people,’’ he said.
“What is happening? Only festivals! In the name of festivals, lakhs of rupees are being spent. There’s no harm in hosting festivals but who is paying? What’s the use?’’ he asked.
State urban development minister Firhad Hakim on Friday criticised the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar for sending a police officer to probe the death of the Madhyamgram rape victim.
“The Bihar government has gone beyond its jurisdiction. It is against the spirit of the federal structure of the country… we cannot intervene if anything happens in Bihar,” he said. “It is unacceptable, the way an officer (from Bihar) collected information from offices of a political party.”
He held the Left parties responsible for the gang-rape and murder: “I have heard that the accused are Leftists. They deserve strict punishment.”