Left activists join SFI leader’s funeral in Kolkata

Kolkata, April 3 (IANS) Hundreds of activists took to the streets here Wednesday accompanying the funeral procession of Students Federation of India (SFI) leader who died in police custody after participating in a protest.

The West Bengal Human Rights Commission has ordered a probe into his death.

Sudipto Gupta, 24, a post-graduate student of the Rabindra Bharati University and West Bengal state committee member of the SFI, died Tuesday evening at a state-run hospital amid allegations that a baton charge by police led to his fatal injury.

Police, however, said that the activist died after he crashed into a lamp post while being taken to jail.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who visited the hospital Wednesday, said the incident was “unfortunate”. She added that many activists of her party had been killed when they hit lamp posts while travelling by trains.

She said: “Any death is unfortunate. I shall not speak any more on this.”

She assured all help to the bereaved family.

Gupta’s body, wrapped in a red flag of the Communist Party of India-NMarxist, was carried in a flower-bedecked hearse to the Netaji Nagar College, where he was general secretary of the students’ council. Grieving students and teachers offered floral tributes to the youth leader amid cries of “Lal Salaam”.

The body was then taken to Gupta’s residence at New Garia on the city’s southern outskirts.

“He was mercilessly beaten by police while the arrested students were being taken in a bus to the Presidency Correctional Home (jail). Policemen on the street rained batons on the activists, including Sudipto. He lost control, fell from the bus and collapsed after crashing against a lamp post,” said an SFI activist, who was an eye-witness.

“Gupta was hit on his head so hard that one of his eyes popped out,” state SFI joint secretary Shatarup Ghosh, also an eyewitness, said.

The incident occurred when hundreds of SFI activists were participating in a law violation programme to protest the state government’s decision to stall students’ union elections at all educational institutions for the next six months.

Taking suo motu cognizance of Gupta’s death, the West Bengal Human Rights Commission Wednesday ordered the city police commissioner to probe the matter and submit a report within seven days.

“The commission has asked the city police commissioner (Surajit Purakayastha) to initiate a probe headed by an assistant commissioner of police and submit the report within seven days,” the commission’s joint secretary Sujay Haldar said.

The commission has also formed its own investigating team and will examine witnesses and other evidence to probe the cause of Gupta’s death. The report will be submitted to the commission in seven days.

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