Bengal rights panel orders probe in Shiladitya Chowdhury's arrest

Kolkata, Aug 17 (IANS) The State Human Right Commission (SHRC) has ordered a probe into the arrest of a man who had publicly questioned West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee about her government's policies towards farmers.

"The Commission has asked its investigative wing to conduct an enquiry into the arrest of Shiladitya Chowdhury. The probe will be headed by additional director general K.P.P. Rao who will submit his report within three weeks," Commission joint secretary Sujoy Haldar told IANS.

Chowdhury, a marginal farmer, was arrested Aug 11 and booked for "disrupting a public rally, entering into a high security zone and assaulting police personnel".

While Banerjee was addressing a rally Aug 8 in the Maoist-affected Belpahari area in West Midnapore district, Chowdhury stood up and asked Banerjee: "Farmers are dying because they have no money. Empty promises are not enough. What are you doing for farmers?"

Stunned by the question, an angry Banerjee immediately branded him a "Maoist" following which Chowdhury was detained and taken for interrogation by the police.

He was, however, allowed to go that day but was later arrested.

The probe order comes barely days after the Commission asked the Mamata Banerjee government to initiate disciplinary action against two police officers within six weeks and pay Rs.50,000 each as compensation to Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and his septuagenarian neighbour Subrata Sengupta for police action against them after they forwarded a mail lampooning the chief minister.