Calcutta, Oct. 12: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has “changed” his mind on taking action against police officers involved in the Rizwanur Rahman case, Jyoti Basu declared in anguish today.
The government might now initiate action only after a judicial commission submits its report, backtracking apparently under pressure from the CPM that does not want to alienate police.
Former judge Aloke Chakrabarti has said the probe would be completed in three months, but such inquiries routinely take several years to wrap up.
Basu, who had twice said in public at least two officers would be removed, did not hide his displeasure today.
“I spoke to Buddha today and asked him why nobody is being removed. I told him that he had asked me to tell the media (that action against the police will be taken soon) and so I had briefed them. But now they are saying that they (the police officers) haven’t received any letter (detailing punishment). Buddha told me that there has been a change of decision…” the former chief minister said.
Basu’s comments suggested the government was citing procedural caution to buy time on an issue that has struck a chord across the state. “The state’s advocate-general had advised him (the chief minister) that since a judicial commission was already probing the incident, it would not be proper to take any decision on punishment right now,’’ Basu said.
Last Friday, Basu had announced that two police officers “have been removed”. Blasting the police, the CPM veteran had singled out police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee for his statement that couples from different “financial and social status” are incompatible.
Today, emerging from the party state secretariat meeting at Alimuddin Street, Basu said that after talking to Bhattacharjee, he had come to know that the court case filed by Rizwanur’s family for a CBI inquiry was on. “That was another reason for not taking action against the police officers.”
Expressing surprise at the delay in the CID probe, Basu said: “I don’t know why this probe is taking so much time. I’m also surprised. I am not aware of what is happening to this inquiry. I have been reading about this in newspapers but it is still not clear. I feel sorry for the family. The police have said that it was a case of suicide and there were injuries at the back of his head. Some are saying that his body had been left on the railway tracks. I don’t know what will happen.”
Basu said Rizwanur’s family was welcome to meet him. “Buddha had asked the family to come to his house and meet him if they wanted to. But they never turned up. I am told they want to meet me. If they want, they can. I have read in newspapers that the family wants exhumation of the body… it can happen then.”
The chief minister said at Writers’ that he had arranged through CPM MP Mohammad Salim and former MLA Rabin Deb to meet Rizwanur’s mother Kishwar Jahan at his house on October 10 but she did not turn up.
“It is my misfortune that she doesn’t want to meet me. But what can I do' If she changes her mind at a later date, I’m ready to talk to her,” he said, reacting to the mother’s refusal to meet him as she had no faith in his administration.
“You must understand my situation as well…. She has said she won’t meet me. It’s not a question of meeting at my house or her house… she’s not willing to talk to me at all. It’s my misfortune.”
However, Kishwar Jahan denied any knowledge of any meeting being set up with Bhattacharjee — either at his house or at hers.
“Whatever is being said is not true. Neither Mohammad Salim nor Rabin Deb ever turned up with a dawat (invitation) asking us to meet chief minister. Yeh to jhoot hain… aisa koi baat hi nahin hua, (This is a lie. There has been no such talk),” she said, adding it would now be difficult to meet Bhattacharjee after whatever he said today.
Bhattacharjee refused to comment whether his government was backtracking after promising the removal of two officers through Basu.
PWD minister and RSP leader Kshiti Goswami said it was unfortunate that despite Basu — “the Left Front’s conscience keeper” — voicing his opinion clearly and logically, the government was not implementing what he had promised.