Former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Wednesday sought to justify the 1993 police action on Youth Congress workers, saying it was essential to prevent the state secretariat from being “captured”.
Both the Congress and the ruling Trinamool Congress contested Bhattacharjee’s claims.
Bhattarcharjee deposed before a commission probing the July 21, 1993, police firing on Youth Congress workers that left 13 dead.
Immediately after assuming power in May 2011, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government constituted the commission to ascertain who issued the order to police to open fire at the rally, which was called by Banerjee, then a Youth Congress leader.
“On the basis of information gathered from various sources, including the media, the movement was aimed at attacking the Writers’ and capture it. It was an undemocratic and violent movement which resulted in injuring 70-80 policemen.”
“It was unfortunate that police could not avoid firing, but the action was a compulsion to prevent the Writers’ being attacked and captured,” Bhattacharjee said deposing before Justice (retd.) Sushanta Chatterjee, who heads the one-man commission.
Bhattacharjee also said a section of Congress leadership was “unhappy at the movement which was aimed at creating unrest”.
Bhattacharjee, who was the state information and culture minister at the time of the incident, reiterated that judicial probe was not warranted and asked the commission to pressurise the Trinamool government for providing relevant documents, including police reports of the incident.
“When we informed that the commission is yet to get police reports about the incident, he said it was unfortunate and urged us to pressurise the state government for proving the relevant documents,” Chatterjee later told the media.
The commission has recorded statements of several people, including Left Front chairman and Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Biman Bose.
The Youth Congress workers laid siege on the Writers’ Buildings, demanding that voters’ identity cards be the sole document required for voting.
The Left Front returned to power with a massive mandate in the state in 1991, but the opposition alleged that the polls were rigged.
The Trinamool Congress party observes July 21 as the “Martyr’s Day”.
Both the Congress and Trinamool Congress attacked Bhattacharjee.
Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya rubbished Bhattacharjee’s claim of differences within the Congress over the issue.
“What he (Bhattacharjee) said is inaccurate, there was no difference within the Congress about the movement. Moreover, the situation wasn’t such that it warranted police firing,” said Bhattacharya.
Trinamool leader and State Transport Minister Madan Mitra accused Bhattacharjee of “lying”.
“He (Bhattacharjee) is the main man behind the entire incident. He has no right to mislead people by misrepresenting and suppressing facts,” said Mitra, who testified before the commission earlier.
“He did give a false deposition before the commission, but admitted that the secretariat had knowledge about the firing,” he added.