West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, without taking names, said on Sunday that the state police and the administration — despite toiling hard day in and day out to overcome crises — were being maligned by some people for political gains.
Banerjee, who inaugurated several Durga puja pandals here during the day, was apparently referring to BJP leaders, who had said that the police, in collusion with the government, were trying to suppress evidence in the recent cases of unnatural death of saffron camp leaders.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has also expressed concern over the law and order in frequent tweets, citing incidents of murder, abduction, rape and the recent custodial death of a man, who, the BJP said, was a worker of its party. Banerjee, however, said, “Some people only believe in blaming and maligning the police force and the state.
“They forget the work done by the police during crisis situations, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and even at other times… If you show disrespect to someone, you will be paid back in your own coin.” The CM also said if someone died of tuberculosis, “these people will point fingers towards the law and order situation of West Bengal. They will say the death was caused by (political) violence.”
She said such campaigns were being made to earn political brownies. Mourning the demise of a police officer, who succumbed to COVID-19 on Sunday morning, Banerjee said, “Many of you ended up contracting the disease. Most recovered, while we lost others.” “I am deeply pained at the loss… Please follow COVID-19 protocols while on duty, always wear a mask, use sanitisers and maintain physical distance,” she said after inaugurating a pandal, set up by residents of police line at Alipore in the southern part of the city.
Banerjee’s remarks assume significance in the wake of the recent protests by the opposition BJP, claiming that its activists were being killed by local TMC leaders, in conspiracy with the police. Earlier in the day, Dhankhar had slammed the ruling dispensation and the police over alleged custodial death of Madan Ghorai in east Midnapore.
“High time you redeem your constitutional oath and enforce rule of law, ensure democratic governance in the state, make police and administration politically neutral and accountable,” Dhankhar wrote to the chief minister. Ghorai’s family claimed that he died due to torture, while the police stated that the man was in judicial custody, and allegations levelled by the family and the saffron party were baseless.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in an interview to News18 Network Managing Director and Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi on Saturday that “law and order has gone for a toss” in West Bengal. “And what is more worrisome…is the way opposition workers are being framed in false cases and killed. Such things don’t happen in other states,” he had said.
Shah’s claims drew sharp reaction from the TMC, which alleged that the BJP was conspiring to topple a democratically elected government. It further asserted that people in Bengal were living in peace.