West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is leading a protest march against what has come to be known as the Hathras horror – the alleged rape and fatal assault of a 20-year-old Dalit woman, and her 2:30AM cremation by Uttar Pradesh Police without the family’s consent or presence leading to nationwide outrage.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee started walking from Kolkata’s Birla Planetarium to the Gandhi Statue and Central Kolkata – a distance of about 3km – from 4PM.
This is the first time in six months, since the COVID-19 outbreak in India, that the TMC supremo has hit the streets.
Visuals show the Chief Minister walking briskly surrounded by security personnel, who have formed a wall between her and a large crowd of suporters who have joined the protest.
The protest comes a day after a team of Trinamool Congress members were barred from entering Hathras to meet the victim’s family. While party MP Pratima Mondal was manhandled by the police, MP Derek O’Brien was wrestled to the ground.
Paralally, the Left parties and the Congress are also scheduled to hold protests against the September 14 incident, besides raising issues of violence against women, caste-based discrimination and, what they are calling, the “fascist behaviour” of the Uttar Pradesh Police.
On Thursday, hitting out at the Uttar Pradesh government for its handling of the Hathras case, Ms Banerjee had accused the BJP of only using the Dalit community for votes and then torturing them.
“During elections, they will go to a Dalit house, get food from outside, eat it and claim we have eaten at a Dalit home. After elections, they will torture Dalits, thrash them,” said Ms Banerjee, who is preparing to fight next year’s state Assembly elections with BJP as the main opponent.
She also invoked Goddess Sita, the wife of Lord Ram, in her outburst against the Yogi Adityanath government and the state police. “Sita Mai had to give agnipariksha (trial by fire) once. Today, in Uttar Pradesh, not only is there rape, the victim is burnt,” she said.
(With PTI inputs)