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Apr 04, 2013 at 04:05pm IST

Partial shutdown in Kolkata as city mourns SFI activist's death

Kolkata: Kolkata is mourning the death of Students Federation of India activist Sudipto Gupta due to alleged police brutality. There was a partial shutdown in the city on Thursday after the bandh called by the SFI.

Since Thursday morning, there were roadblocks in various places across the city. A Congress student delegation will meet the West Bengal Governor at 4 pm on Thursday to demand a judicial probe into Sudipto's death.

Sudipto Gupta, an MA student at Rabindra Bharati University, was admitted to hospital with severe internal haemorrhage and later succumbed to his injuries. Gupta was part of a protest organised by the SFI against the postponement of college elections. The incident has led to thousands coming out on the streets of Kolkata to protest against the incident.

According to sources, the activist was beaten up by policemen while he was being taken to the Presidency jail in a bus. Eyewitnesses told CNN-IBN that the police forced protesters on to a bus following a mass arrest and then Sudipto was pushed out of the bus and badly beaten up. SFI General Secretary Satarup Ghosh, an eyewitness himself, said, "He was hit on his head so hard that one of his eyes came out."

"We were courting arrest when the policemen started beating us in the bus. One of the policemen hit Sudipto's head with a lathi and he fell down. When we demanded immediate medical help for him, the police refused," Ghosh said.

A cornered police force maintains that Sudipto fell off the bus. "There was a scuffle inside the bus as the students shouted slogans. One of the students hit a lamp post and was critically injured," Javed Shamim, Joint Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, said.

Meanwhile, the post-mortem report said that Sudipto suffered injuries to his forehead, the back of his head and had a broken jaw.

Following the post-mortem, his body was taken to his residence where grieving relatives, friends and neighbours had gathered. and then to the SFI headquarters. Gupta's body was taken to the crematorium in a huge procession. Former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was also among the thousands walking along Gupta's hearse.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also the state home minister, on Wednesday morning termed the episode as "unfortunate", but evaded a question on whether a judicial probe would be ordered as demanded by the Opposition CPI(M). "Any death is unfortunate. This is also unfortunate. I will not say anything more than this," Mamata told reporters outside the state-run SSKM hospital where SFI leader Sudipto Gupta's body was kept in the morning.

However, her visit did not cut much ice with the SFI activists gathered there who raised slogans against her. Mamata also did not do much good herself when she spoke about how many of her own party workers had died the same way.

The chief minister also said she visited the hospital to express her sympathy and assured all help to the bereaved family. She also visited other activists injured in the police crackdown at the hospital.

Gupta's father Pranab Gupta, however, refused to accept any help from the state government. "My son was beaten to death. Is it justice? I was a central government employee. I get pension. I cannot accept any money. It is against my principle. She is offering me money, but can she return my son?" he said.

Asked about Mamata's reiteration of the police version that Sudipto died after he hit a post, Pranab Gupta reiterated that his son was beaten to death and he would fight for justice.

"I want them to be punished. How could they torture a 23-year-old boy like this," Pranab Gupta told CNN-IBN.

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