KOLKATA: In a huge embarrassment for the Left Front, a Commission of Inquiry into the police firing on a Youth Congress movement in 1993 killing 13 persons today said that it was worse than the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
While ordering a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the families of each of those killed, the one-man Commission of Justice (retd) Sushanta Chatterjee said that control room officers were "vicariously responsible" and "overacted to please their political bosses".
"There was no necessity to resort to firing that caused the death of 13 persons," Justice (retd) Sushanta Chatterjee of the July 21 Commission, set up by the Mamata Banerjee government soon after coming to power in 2011, said.
"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, which had caused a nationwide uproar during the time.
Noting that the victims or their families were financially handicapped and of economically unsound background, the Commission ordered a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the families of each of those who died and Rs 5 lakh each to those who were injured in police action on the fateful day.
The Commission said, "The control room officers were vicariously responsible and liable thereby."
"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 to the state government.
Mamata Banerjee, who was the then Youth Congress president, had called a 'march to Writers Building' (state administrative headquarter) 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.