Mamata's 'whip' threat to cop taken to rights panel

Kolkata, Feb 7 (IANS) After screaming at policemen serving as her security staff, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has fresh trouble to deal with -- a civil rights group has taken the matter to the state human rights panel.

And opposition parties and intellectuals have counselled her to desist from shrieking.

Banerjee lost her cool at the Kolkata International Book Fair Wednesday night, when she had to wait several minutes for her car after emerging from the venue.

Banerjee had released books and CDs at the fair, and had stepped out from the fair when she was heard saying to Special Branch officers who provide her security: "Apnader dhore chabkano uchit, chabkano uchit apnader dhore (You should be whipped)."

"Whipped" into action by the words, policemen scurried to fetch the chief minister's car.

Television cameras picked up the chief minister's loud words, and news channels have been playing the footage over and over again.

Civil rights group Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) Thursday lodged a complaint with the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, alleging that the chief minister had "violated the human rights" of police personnel.

The complaint, faxed and e-mailed to the panel, urged it to ensure protection of the human rights of police personnel "humiliated" by the chief minister, and of "policemen in general".

Opposition parties also came down heavily on the chief minister.

"A person behaves like this when she thinks 'I am the master and people are my slaves'. She always treats her officers like this. She makes them run, orders them to stand up, orders suspension of police officers while addressing public meetings," said Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Sujon Chakraborty.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said: "It is very wrong to think that somebody is my servant. These policemen are government employees, not somebody's servants."

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Tathagata Roy expressed concern: "The police will lose their morale."

Retired Indian Police Service officer Sandhi Mukherjee said, "The employees in the state have earned their rights through a series of movements. They have dignity. Such behaviour, coming from the state's chief executive, is totally unacceptable".

Painter Samir Aich said it was unthinkable that in a civilized country somebody can behave like this. "These are novel experiences. The more I see all these, the more experienced I get," he said, sarcastically.

Writer Suchitra Bhattacharya said: "She is becoming a bit intolerant. She seems to be under lot of pressure. She is surrounded by several problems. But still, such behaviour is not quite fitting, coming from a chief minister."

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