Strongly defending the state police who have been the butt of criticism from opposition parties for alleged inaction to prevent the carnage in West Bengal's Birbhum district, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday said the good work done by the force cannot be negated by the fault of its one or two members.
Banerjee, who also holds the Home (Police) portfolio, said action has been taken against those who allegedly did not act in time to prevent arson and violence leading to the death of eight people in Bogtui village after the murder of a local Trinamool Congress leader.
The officer-in-charge of Rampurhat police station has been suspended, while the SDPO of the sub-division has been put on compulsory waiting following the incident on March 21.
"The state police comes to the aid of the people throughout the year, be it law and order or providing assistance to Covid-19 patients. It is not correct to blame the entire force for the fault of one or two," the chief minister said.
Admitting that the police had erred in the beginning, Banerjee said they should have apprehended that something might happen in retaliation to the TMC leader's murder.
"There is a mistake on that front, but we have taken action - the OC and the SDPO have been removed, 22 people including the TMC block president (Anarul Hossain) have been arrested," she said, adding that all the arrested are TMC supporters.
She said the state-appointed SIT had done a lot of work in its investigation which was later handed over to the CBI following an order of the Calcutta High Court.
Accusing the opposition of maligning the whole police force for the fault of a few, she asked what will happen if they are not available.
"If it happens tomorrow that there is not a single policeman on the road or is not available in police stations and does not protect us when we sleep at night, will police from Delhi come to do these duties?" she asked.
Asserting that West Bengal is the most peaceful state in the country, she said that a huge hue and cry has started over one incident to depict that the Mamata Banerjee government is "very bad" and to malign the state.
"This is being done deliberately since they know that only Mamata Banerjee can fight the BJP and no one else," she said.
Stating that she is not the almighty to be able to prevent every incident, Banerjee said it has to be seen whether proper action is being taken by her government if anything wrong happens.
"I challenge that nowhere in the world there are as many social welfare programmes as there are in Bengal," she said.
Blaming the opposition CPI(M), Congress and the BJP for politicising the incident, she claimed, without elaborating, that when bodies of people of Bengal come from states like Kerala, Bihar or Kashmir, no questions were raised.
"A deplorable incident has occurred in which a Trinamool Congress leader was murdered and those whose houses caught fire were also of the Trinamool and still, it is the TMC which is being abused," she said.
"Will you blame me for a problem between two localities? Will the CPI(M), Congress or BJP hold rallies smearing my face with black ink?" she asked.
The chief minister asked how many CBI probes were ordered in incidents of violence at Unnao, Hathras or Lakhimpur Kheri in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.
"People died in Delhi violence and Assam and Uttar Pradesh over NPR and NRC. Did anyone get justice?" she asked.
Stating that teams of party MPs were not allowed to go to Unnao and Hathras in UP or Assam, the TMC chief said that on the other hand, opposition party leaders are flocking to Bogtui just to prevent her from going there.
Banerjee, who went to Bogtui on Thursday, had said that she delayed her visit to the affected village so that her schedule does not clash with that of opposition leaders.
Announcing rewards for people for providing information to the authorities about any possible incident of violence or unrest, she warned that action will be taken against any police station which does not act based on such information.
Banerjee said that she had succeeded in this way to curb vandalism during her tenure as the railway minister.
"I am giving two months, after that if there is a complaint of corruption or violence against anyone indulging in such activities, action will be taken," she said.
The chief minister said she will launch a system like "Didi ke bolo" (tell Didi), in which complaints could be directly lodged with her office by people.
As advised by poll strategist Prashant Kishor, appointed by the TMC after its poor performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Banerjee had launched a dedicated helpline number and a website as part of 'Didi Ke Bolo' campaign, to enable people to tell the authorities about their problems. Banerjee is called Didi (elder sister) by her supporters.
Reiterating that there is a larger conspiracy in the Birbhum incident, she said that justice should be done delving into all its aspects.
Banerjee warned of political movement by the TMC if the CBI deviates from the probe and "does anything else at the bidding of the BJP, CPI(M) or Congress."
She reminded the people that the CBI has not been able to recover the Nobel medallion of Rabindranath Tagore stolen from Santiniketan or bring to justice the accused in the Nandigram firing case of 2007 in which 14 people died and killing of nine people at Netai in 2011.
The chief minister said that the Centre has increased the price of 800 drugs including medicines like paracetamol and those for diabetes, but there is no protest against that.
"After winning the Uttar Pradesh elections, the (Narendra) Modi government has given a return gift by increasing prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas," she said.
The TMC chief claimed that her party never politicised the death of people or tried to provide fuel to fire in connection with any such incident when it was in the opposition.
"In order to divert the attention of people from such pressing issues, such incidents (like Rampurhat) are highlighted," she said.
Claiming that one lakh people will get work in the Deucha Pachami coal project in Birbhum district, Banerjee accused the opposition of trying to put a spanner in such a possibility.
She claimed that the real motive of the opposition is to prevent industrialisation and job creation in West Bengal.