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Apr 03, 2013 at 05:02pm IST

Student's death was police handiwork, not govt's: Sunanda K Datta-Ray

The death of a 23-year-old SFI activist, Sudipto Gupta, has sparked a row in Kolkata. Sudipto was fatally injured allegedly by the police in a crackdown on Tuesday. The police has claimed he fell off a bus but his fellow activists allege that the police hit him on the head in the bus. Senior journalist and columnist Sunanda K Datta-Ray joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the matter.

Q. Is the Bengal govt playing havoc on the independence of its citizens? Asked by: Unknown

Student's death was police handiwork, not govt's: Sunanda K Datta-Ray

Sunanda K Datta-Ray joined IBNLive readers on the student activist's death in police crackdown in Kolkata.

A. This sad episode wasn't the Government's doing. It was the handiwork of the police which has a life of its own.

Q. As per your assessment has the governance improved in West Bengal after TMC arrival? Asked by: BSG

A. No.

Q. People of Bengal was fed up with Communists Shorty people of Bengal will understand their replacement is not good. Congress must wake up and try to take the advantage of the situation? Asked by: Prathap

A. West Bengal Congres doesn't seem to have the leadership, vision or energy to mobilise people and present a strong and credible alternative.

Q. In my college days I was frightened to attend the classes when SFI calls for a strike. Because they used to harass the students who attend the classes. I was frightened even of their red flag. Subsequently they changed the color of the flag at least to white, but their militant character not changed. Now they are getting back. Asked by: Prathap

A. Yes, SFI has a bad name. But for many young people it's only a passing phase. You know what Shaw said about anyone who isn't a radical before 30 being intellectually dead. I know BJP stalwarts who used to be leading lights of the SFI.

Q. In Kerala there are many college do not have students wings of other political parties Because SFI goons use to beat the students who ever joins with other parties. I feel in west Bengal now they are getting back? Asked by: Prathap

A. Yes, that is so in West Bengal too. Ideally of course, student politics should be delinked from the mainstream parties.

Q. In my college days in Kerala I used to see SFI students used to beat KSU(students wing of Congress)with the help CITU goons used to come to the college on the days of students strike. I feel now SFI is getting back what is being given by them all these years.I mean as you saw so shall you reap. Asked by: Prathap

A. Let's be very clear the SFI is not facing a challenge from other organised student groups. The West Bengal tragedy was caused by a police-student confrontation.

Q. Do you think there is societal problems in Bengal with people voting out an party run with outdated principles and voting in a party with more outdated practices? Is there any possibility of Bengal being run by progressive, pragmatic and non dogmatic parties? Or will this tamasha between CPI(M) and TMC will carry one forever ala DMK/AIDMK and SP/BSP? Asked by: theba

A. The problem is of rising but frustrated aspirations. The Left Front could not meet it. Trinamool doesn't seem to understand it at all.

Q. Is the anti-Mamata sentiment an urban(Kolkata) issue? How is the TMC's popularity in the districts? Asked by: Jayaditya

A. Anti-Trinamool sentiment is mainly urban middle class. Mamata's popularity remains high in the countryside and with the minority. That is because the middle class expected so much from her and now feels betrayed.

Q. Will the Mamta govt bring justice for the death or will this news just die down? Asked by: Unknown

A. I doubt if the circumstances of this promising 22-year-old student's death will ever be cleared up. Deaths in police custody never are. There are always several conflicting versions.

Q. Is there really a problem with governance in WB or is it that the there is lot of media glare now and incidents are getting highlighted. Asked by: Narayan

A. The media glare is undeniable. Media elements that lionised her at one time now look for faults and flaws. But her government gives them cause to criticise it too.

Q. How will the incidents like this impact Mamata's prospects in the future elections especially in 2014, when she is hoping to be one of the "kingmakers"? Asked by: Narayan

A. The panchayat elections due later this month will provide the first clue, though given the wrangling between the Government and the election commission, heaven knows when they will be held.

Q. The deceased was a SFI activist and hence political overtones can not be avoided. Was it that the person was specifically targeted or happened to be one in the crowd who accidentally became a victim? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. It is difficult to say. One eyewitness claims the deceased was mercilessly beaten, but that may have been after he fell off the bus.

Q. Culture of Violence is definitely not limited to any state. Why is it that media likes WB bashing? The police in recent times have been caught on camera indulging in violence to control mobs who are unarmed,be it at Delhi, Rajasthan or down south in any of the states. Is policing methods of old age and newer techniques to be imparted? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. You are right, it's a national phenomenon. Police methods are equally brutal everywhere. But WB has a high profile CM from whom much was expected.

Q. Is TMC a party of Hooligans? Asked by: bua

A. No more than any other party. But true, many CPI(M) hooligans have crossed over to it.

Q. Any possibility of Mamata joining hands with BJP after elections? Asked by: BSG

A. Nothing is ruled out in politics. But for now the feelers seem to be towards Congress!

Q. You said that Mamata's popularity in rural areas is still strong, but recently I visited East Medinipur where there is a strong sentiment against TMC & specially against Suvendu Adhikary. What's your view? Asked by: avi

A. That part of Medinipur has always been a Marxist base. I meant her rural vote bank - where it existed - has not yet suffered.

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