Commission says 1993 police firing at Youth Congress rally worse than Jalianwala Bagh

Seventy-five rounds of bullets were fired by the police in the incident on 21 July 1993, which had triggered a nation-wide outrage during the time.

hidden December 29, 2014 19:06:43 IST
Commission says 1993 police firing at Youth Congress rally worse than Jalianwala Bagh

Kolkata: In a huge embarrassment to the Left Front, a Commission of Enquiry that probed the police firing on a Youth Congress rally in Kolkata in 1993 killing 13 persons today said it was unjustified and "much worse" than the Jalianwallah Bagh massacre during the British Raj.

Ordering a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the families of each of those killed in the anti-government rally led by Mamata Banerjee, the then Youth Congress leader, the one-man Commission of Justice (retd) Sushanta Chatterjee said control room officers were "vicariously responsible" and "overacted to please their political bosses".

Commission says 1993 police firing at Youth Congress rally worse than Jalianwala Bagh

Trinamool Congress party leader Mamata Banerjee addresses a rally in Kolkata on 21 July 2010 held annually in remembrance of 13 activists killed by security forces on 21 July 1993. AFP

"There was no necessity to resort to firing that caused the death of 13 persons," said Justice (retd) Sushanta Chatterjee, who headed the Commission set up by the Mamata government soon after coming to power in 2011, in his report.

"This incident was much worse than what happened in Jallianwala Bagh," Chatterjee said.

Seventy-five rounds of bullets were fired by the police in the incident on 21 July 1993, which had triggered a nation-wide outrage during the time.

The CPM trashed the report as a "political leaflet" and said it was "unacceptable".

"Such report from a retired judge cannot be accepted," CPM leader Mohammed Salim said.

"There could be a discussion on whether the firing was done willingly or unwillingly, but comparing the incident with the Jalianwallah Bagh massacre has made it a political leaflet," the Left leader said.

Noting that the victims or their families were financially handicapped and of economically unsound background, the Commission also ordered Rs 5 lakh compensation each to those who were injured in the police action.

"The control room officers were vicariously responsible and liable thereby," it said.

"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," he said.

"Firing had happened on orders from control room and by trigger-happy additional forces sent by it," Chatterjee said, reading out portions of the over 700-page report, which he made public before submitting it to the state government.

Trinamool leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the then Youth Congress president, had called a 'march to Writers Building'(state administrative headquarters) on July 21, 1993, demanding mandatory use of voter identity cards for exercising franchise alleging that the CPI(M)-led Left Front indulged in large-scale rigging of elections.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre had taken place in Amritsar on April 13, 1919. Approximately 1,650 rounds were fired that resulted in the killing of more than 1,000 innocent Indians besides leaving more than 1,100 injured.

PTI

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