| Trinamul Congress activists descend on Bankshal Court to defend the seven mayoral council members arrested on Tuesday. Picture by Amit Datta
It was the Mamata Banerjee of old in a new garb. But the effect she had was all too familiar — turning a courtroom into a cauldron of chaos.
Accompanied by hordes of unruly supporters baying for mayor Subrata Mukherjee’s blood, black-gowned Mamata hit Bankshal Court on Tuesday afternoon, where her seven ‘unruly’ party members were produced after being arrested on charges of assaulting municipal commissioner Debasis Som.
The chaos that accompanied Mamata — and the administrative bungling — left chief metropolitan magistrate S.C. Mishra fuming. The afternoon session began at 2 pm and the judge, on being told that the seven accused — Mala Roy, Shamsuzzaman Ansari, Pradip Ghosh, Anup Chatterjee, Javed Ahmed Khan, Moinul Haque Chowdhury and Swapan Samaddar — had been brought to the court, took his chair. None of the seven, however, was there and the judge left the courtroom.
The accused arrived a few minutes later, along with a few hundred Trinamul activists. They all invaded the court campus and some even managed to sneak into the courtroom. Some raised slogans against both mayor Mukherjee and municipal commissioner Som, forcing judge Mishra to declare to officials in his chamber that he would not attend court if order was not restored.
Some Trinamul leaders suggested that he grant the seven mayoral council members bail without seeing them. “The court must see the accused,” the judge insisted. He even offered to hold court in the balcony. “Bring the accused here,” he ordered officials. Senior Trinamul leaders, sensing that things had gone too far, then pleaded with the judge to come back to the courtroom. “We will ensure normalcy,” assured Saugata Roy and Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay.
Mamata, however, was not to be placated. Confining herself to “advising” Trinamul MLA Arunava Ghosh, who appeared for the seven mayoral council members, she sat in the second row and limited her courtroom activities to commenting against the “injustice” being meted out to her party colleagues.
Insisting that the seven be produced without passing through the caged entrance, Mamata hollered: “They will not run away… They are, after all, janapratinidhi (people’s representatives).” When the seven trooped in through the ‘cage’, their leader sighed: “Eesh, oder dekhe koshto hochchhe (I feel so sorry for them).”
In the end, Mamata’s black gown, given by one of the Trinamul legal cell members, turned out to be rather unnecessary, as the seven were granted bail on a bond of Rs 1,000 each.
Later in the day, judge Mishra wrote to police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty, drawing his attention to the force’s failure to control the “unruly” scenes inside the court. Terming the day’s proceedings as unprecedented, he asked Chakraborty to ensure that the court’s sanctity is never violated like this again.