| Hangman Nata Mullick with Meera Bhattacharjee on Saturday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, June 26: The last time she stepped into the limelight outside the confines of chief minister-husband Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s home, she was canvassing votes for CPM’s Mohammed Selim. Today Meera Bhattacharjee was back on a public platform, teary-eyed and choking, to drum up support for the hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee.
No mercy for 14-year-old Hetal Parekh’s rapist-killer, cried Meera this afternoon, a day after Bhattacharjee pronounced the Bengal government’s verdict in favour of his hanging.
Wiping her streaming eyes with the edge of her sari, she pleaded with the hundreds who had gathered at a meeting in front of Metro cinema to ensure that “the perpetrator of a most heinous crime gets what he deserves”.
“Can the rope of a noose be more cruel than the rope used to strangle an innocent girl' Can humanitarian grounds and reprieve be considered after such brutality' Or would you say that Hetal’s killer should die the way she died' What answer can we give her parents'” she asked.
“I have come here as a woman, as a citizen of this city and as the mother of a daughter. I know what the parents of Hetal Parekh have been going through for the past 14 years,” she continued, her voice rising over the din of the vehicles whizzing by, the pedestrians looking on in silent awe.
“I still vividly remember with hurt and anger the newspaper reports that described the ruthless act,” Meera said, recalling how caretaker cum liftman Dhananjoy had forced his way into Hetal’s home and how the girl had sprinted into her room in terror.
“She ran and fell on the swing, breaking her nose. Dhananjoy, like a wild beast, pounced on her and wrapped the swing’s rope around her neck. So tight was the rope that her voice box had broken.
“She stopped screaming and was probably already dead. The beast then raped the limp girl… can you still have thoughts of forgiving him' I can’t speak anymore… sorry,” Meera said, breaking into tears. As she temporarily stepped aside from the microphone, a hush descended over the crowd.
A while later, she spoke again: “As citizens of the city where the crime was committed, I urge you to appeal to the President that this man be hanged.”
Meera’s plea was backed up by all other speakers, among them 85-year-old hangman Nata Mullick himself. “Hanging him is too gentle. He should be thrown into a tiger’s cage or set ablaze in full public view.”
CPM parliamentarians Mohammad Selim and Sujon Chakraborty said there should be no room to overturn the ruling of the highest court in the country. Minister Pratim Chatterjee and Trinamul chief whip Sobhandev Chattopadhyay echoed them.
In a message, Meera’s daughter Suchetana said: “Seeking a reprieve for a brutal killer is an act of perverted socialism.”