- West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has welcomed the Park Street rape case verdict.
- There is increasing political pressure on Mamata Banerjee to apologise for dismissing the case as a fabricated one when the investigations had just begun.
- Read on to find out how Mamata and her party members reacted to the case becoming national news and why it\'s time for the Chief Minister to accept that she was wrong all along.
"Shajano ghotona" (This is a fabricated case) is what West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had infamously said about the 2012 Park Street rape case when it came to light.
However, even as the three perpetrators of the crime were sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Kolkata court on Friday, Banerjee was quick to welcome the verdict.
In the aftermath of the Park Street Rape case in 2012, a string of other similar cases caught the attention of the media. So when the media and the Opposition cornered the Trinamool Congress government on the issue, it seemed as though gender sensitivity in the city of bhadraloks had gone for a toss.
Days after the insensitive remark from the Chief Minister, her party colleague and TMC MP Kakoli Ghose Dastidar sent another shocker. In response to a question on an increasing number of cases in the state, Dastidar said:
"If you are referring to the Park Street case, see that's a different case altogether. It's not at all a rape case. It was misunderstanding between two people in a professional dealing between the lady and her client".
These misogynistic comments prove that having women in positions of power does not necessarily translate into women empowerment.
A few months after the outrage over the comments died down, it was revealed that Jordan was gangraped at gunpoint. Mamata Banerjee didn't bother to apologise but instead resorted to the done-to-death excuse of "my statement was distorted". Here's what she said on February 27, 2012 justifying her initial remarks:
"In the Park Street incident, a particular TV channel dished out lies attributing to me. I never told them that nothing had happened or otherwise. Whatever the police told me as per preliminary investigation, I said".
Damyanti Sen vs Mamata Banerjee
Despite being dismissed by the Chief Minister, Jordan found support in Kolkata cop Damayanti Sen. The-then Kolkata police joint commissioner (crime) cracked the case and identified the five accused. While she earned public appreciation for her actions, she also earned the wrath of the Chief Minister.
Soon after the case was solved, Sen was shunted out and given a low-profile posting. Many saw it as a punishment for going against the Chief Minister' s stated position in the case and pursuing it with all honesty.
A clampdown on films on Park Street case
Banerjee's paranoia about the case reached hysterical levels when she clamped down on a film that mentioned the Park Street Rape case - in passing. In November 2012, the government stopped the screening of a Bengali film titled Teen Kanya, as parts of the film resembled the Park Street rape case incident.
Again in 2014, the Bengal film certification board denied certification to a film titled Park Street. The film finally released this year.
Opposition Parties are leaving no chance of using the Park Street rape verdict to corner Mamata Banerjee. BJP state president Rahul Sinha has demanded an apology from the Chief Minister.
"Mamata Banerjee should apologise before people of Bengal for her comment describing the incident as fabricated. The court's verdict has proved that the CM was wrong and she should now apologise for her mistake."
CPI(M) state Secretary and Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra also demanded that Banerjee apologise.
With the Park Street case, opposition members finally have got their hands on a case that has always made the Chief Minister uncomfortable.
But she could turn the tables on the Opposition and actually make a far greater political point by apologising for having dismissed the horrific crime. Will she? We'll have to wait and watch.