Kolkata: Former Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday deposed before the 21 July commission set up by the Mamata Banerjee government. The commission is probing the police firing on an anti-government protest rally led by Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on 21 July, 1993 which killed 13 Youth Congress workers.
Mamata, who was a Congress leader back then, was demanding that voters' ID card be made the sole document for voting and led a march to the state secretariat, Writers' Building.
Bhattacharjee maintains that the police was forced to open fire on protestors only as a final recourse as they turned violent and tried to lay siege to the Writers' Buildings.
Bhattacharjee maintains that he felt no need for a judicial inquiry into the firing incident since the administrative probe by the then Left Front government had laid bare all details of the incident, a stand that he sticks to even today.
Bhattacharjee says it's "unfortunate" that the probe reports went missing and insists that the commission should ask the present government what steps it took to preserve such vital documents.
After assuming power in the state, Mamata formed a one-member commission comprising Justice (retired) Sushanta Chattopadhyay, former chief justice of the Orissa High Court, to probe the incident.
While Jyoti Basu was the chief minister of West Bengal at that time, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was the information and culture minister in that government. The TMC has repeatedly alleged that it was Bhattacherjee who had ordered the firing.
Interestingly, a cabinet minister in the current TMC government in Bengal, Manish Gupta, was the state home secretary during the time of the incident. Former IPS officer Tushar Talukdar was Kolkata's police commissioner.
The Trinamool Congress observes 21 July as Martyr's Day every year and has converted the event into the party's biggest annual programme.