In a major embarrassment for West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee regime, the state right panel on Monday recommended Rs.10 lakh compensation for the custodial death of SFI leader Sudipto Gupta in Kolkata in April.
A full bench of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, which met during the day, pointed at the responsibility of police in the April 2 incident, saying such "unfortunate" happenings could have been avoided had the lawkeepers been "more alert", "careful" and acted in a "professional manner".
Gupta, a leader of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) students' arm Students Federation of India (SFI), died under mysterious circumstances after his arrest for taking part in an agitation programme in central Kolkata.
"The commission said the next of kin of Gupta should be paid compensation of Rs.10 lakh. It has asked the government to carry out its recommendations within two months," a panel source told IANS.
Left activists have claimed Gupta was "mercilessly beaten" while he and other students who had staged the protests seeking holding of college elections, were being taken in a bus to the Presidency Correctional Home (jail).
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and police have maintained that the 24-year old died after his head hit a lamp post when he was perched on the footboard of the bus.
The commission also recommended the state government pay Rs.3 lakh for the medical treatment of another student leader Joseph Hossain, who was injured in a police baton charge during the agitation on the same day.
"What I have understood about this government, it is not going to pay any heed to the commission's recommendation," said Hossain, who sustained serious injuries on his right forearm when a policeman allegedly hit a windowpane of the bus with a stick and the shattering shards pierced his wrist.
The commission's verdict on Monday is the latest in a series of recommendations where it has levied punitive compensation on the state government.
It last year recommended compensation of Rs.5,000 each to Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and one of his neighbours who were arrested for circulating emails of cartoons mocking Banerjee.
Another case which drew the Commission's ire was the arrest of a marginal farmer Shiladitya Chowdhury after he publicly tried to ask Banerjee about her government's policy towards farmers.
The panel last month recommended Rs.2 lakh as compensation to Chowdhury for the "loss of dignity and social status".
Despite the Commission's recommendations, the state government is yet to act on them.
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