Hitting out at the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that as Goddess Sita had to
go through 'Agni Pariksha', the Dalit woman who died after being gang-raped and brutalised in Hathras was put on a funeral pyre in the dead of the night.
Addressing a government programme in the Jalpaiguri district, she questioned the role of the UP Police in handling the case that triggered a massive outrage across the country.
"Once Goddess Sita had to go through 'Agni Pariksha' (test by fire). Now in UP, the woman was raped, and later her body was put on a funeral pyre," Banerjee said.
"If a crime takes place, action has to be taken within 72 hours, as we have done. What kind of an administration is this where the body of the woman was cremated in the dead of the night while no proceedings were initiated (against the accused)," she added.
Banerjee alleged that the mother of the woman was also threatened that she too would be cremated on the pyre along with her daughter.
Earlier in the day, she tweeted, "Have no words to condemn the barbaric & shameful incident at Hathras involving a young Dalit girl. My deepest condolences to the family."
"More shameful is the forceful cremation without the family's presence or consent, exposing those who use slogans & lofty promises for votes," she said on Twitter.
In an oblique reference to the BJP, Banerjee said that some people say something and then do something else.
"So many atrocities are taking place against Dalits. During elections, some leaders go to their house with food brought from outside and pretend to have lunch or dinner there. After the polls are over, they bring down acts of cruelty on them," the Trinamool Congress supremo said.
A 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras on September 14 and referred to the Safdarjung hospital in Delhi on Monday with spinal cord injuries, paralysis and cuts in her tongue. She died around 3 am on Tuesday.
Her brutal death and subsequent cremation in the dead of the night in Hathras allegedly under police pressure on Tuesday triggered massive outrage over the law and order situation in UP and over women safety in general.
Banerjee, whose government is set to face the litmus test of assembly elections early next year, said the BJP had made several promises to the Rajbangshi people of north Bengal but none has been met.
Asserting that she fulfils her promises, the chief minister said that projects announced by her have either been completed or the works for those are in progress.
The chief minister inaugurated the 'Pathasri' project for the betterment of the state's roads and announced that 12,000-km roads in West Bengal will be repaired or upgraded under it.
Announcing a Rs 500 crore corpus for the project for road repair and conversion of kutcha roads to paved ones, she said that several roads have been damaged in cyclone Amphan and intermittent floods and bad weather in many parts of the state.
"Bengal is first in road construction in the country," she said.
The chief minister said the length of roads in the state was only a little over 92,000 km when the TMC came to power in 2011 and the figure now stands at more than 3.16 lakh km, which is an increase of 244 per cent.