Statesman News Service
Kolkata, 15 July
The West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) today directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to Mr Shiladitya
Chowdhury, who was branded a Maoist activist by chief minister Mamata
Banerjee.
The commission observed that the chief minister, being a
"democratically elected popular leader, should abide by the Indian Constitution."
The chief minister branded him a Maoist when he had asked her about the state government’s move as farmers were in trouble due to a hike in fertiliser prices, during a rally at Belpahari in West Midnapore on 8 August, 2012. He was arrested on 11 August in a "concocted case" and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
The commission initiated a probe following a complaint lodged by the BJP on 17 August, 2012. Today the full Bench of the commission, comprising chairman Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, Justice NC Sil and Justice SN Roy, put forward three recommendations.
First of all, the state has been asked to pay Rs 2 lakh to Mr Chowdhury within two months considering that his social dignity and status was badly affected as the chief minister had labelled him as a Maoist publicly. The commission maintained: "It cannot be that just because Shiladitya is a poor farmer his dignity and status can be lowered by slapping wild allegation on him of being a terrorist (Maoist)."
The commission also observed that chief minister Mamata Banerjee is no doubt a democratically elected popular leader, but she has to abide by constitutional norms. "That is the oath she had taken before assuming office. In that context violation of human rights of any citizen of the state is a matter of serious concern," the commission maintained.
Shiladitya said he would have been happier if the chief minister had regretted openly for making such an irresponsible comment publicly. A compensation of Rs 2 lakh is nothing compared to the mental torture and harassment he faced after the day he was branded a Maoist. Mr Rabindranath Samanta, registrar, WBHRC, said the additional director general (Human Rights Commission), who was asked to probe into the matter, has submitted his report.