A day after an activist belonging to CPM’s student wing, Students’ Federation of India (SFI), succumbed to head injuries allegedly due to police baton charge, protests broke out in different parts of the country on Wednesday, including in Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai. Sudipto Gupta (22) was fatally injured on Tuesday while participating in an agitation against the Mamata Banerjee government’s decision to stop college union elections for the next six months.
While the police maintained that Gupta hit his head on a lamppost after he fell from a bus, the SFI alleged that the police had hit him on the head while taking him to the Presidency jail after he was arrested.
At least 21 protestors were arrested in Chennai on Wednesday, while security was tightened outside Banga Bhawan in the national capital.
The West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) has initiated a probe and ordered the Kolkata Police to submit a separate report within a week. “We have taken suo motu cognisance of the student’s death and asked for a report from the Commissioner of Kolkata Police within a week. We are also sending our additional director general of police and the Commission’s registrar for a separate inquiry by the Human Rights Commission,” said its chairman Justice (retd) Ashok Ganguly.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family rejected the police claim that it was an accident. Banerjee, who visited the hospital where Gupta was admitted, said, “Any death is unfortunate. I shall not speak any more on this,” while ensuring all support to the victim’s kin. The CM, who had been maintaining a stoic silence over the death, stopped short of demanding a judicial probe into the incident.
The autopsy report showed that Gupta had suffered multiple injuries on his head, had sustained a broken jaw and had injury marks all over his body. The police arrested the bus driver on Wednesday.
In Kolkata, thousands thronged the streets and jostled to pay their last respects amid cries of ‘Lal Salaam’ as Gupta’s body was taken to the crematorium.