Firing at Mamata’s ’93 rally ‘worse than Jallianwala Bagh’
Coming as a huge embarrassment for the Left Front, the Justice Sushanta Chatterjee Commission in its report on the firing on July 21, 1993 killing 13 people at a Youth Congress rally led by Banerjee, said “was unprovoked and unconstitutional.”
While ordering a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the families of each of those killed and Rs 5 lakh each to those who were injured, the commission said that control room officers were “vicariously responsible” and “overacted to please their political bosses.” The report also said, “There was no necessity to resort to firing that caused the death of 13 persons. This incident was much worse than what happened in Jallianwala Bagh,”.
“Without mentioning any individual name,” the Commission found, “the officials in the Home department and police officials of Control Room (Kolkata Police) failed to discharge their duties in saving lives guaranteed by the Constitution and in protecting the right to demonstrate peacefully.”
“Collective responsibility lies with the state and police administration, they had overacted to please their political bosses. The firing could have been avoided. Firing had happened on orders from control room and by trigger-happy additional forces sent by it,” said Chatterjee while reading out portions of the over 700-page report, which he made public before submitting to the state government.
The inquiry into the incident was set up by Banerjee, who now heads the Trinamool Congress, soon after she took over as chief minister of West Bengal in 2011, to ascertain who had issued the order to the police to fire at the rally. The Justice Chatterjee commission has examined over 300 witnesses, including former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Left Front chairperson Biman Bose. Banerjee, who in 1993 was the then Youth Congress president, on July 21 that year had called a ‘march to Writers Building’ (state administrative head-quarter) demanding mandatory use of voter identity cards for exercising franchise.