New Delhi/Kolkata: Under pressure from opposition after the death of an SFI leader, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday termed the episode as "unfortunate", but evaded a question on whether a judicial probe would be ordered as demanded by the CPI-M.

"Any death is unfortunate. This is also unfortunate. I will not say anything more than this," Banerjee told reporters here outside the state-run SSKM hospital where SFI leader Sudipta Gupta's body was kept. She said this in response to a media query that whether the state government would order a judicial inquiry into the death as demanded by opposition CPI-M.

Banerjee said the SFI leader was killed after he collided against a post, and claimed many of her own party workers had died in this way. The Chief Minister said she visited the hospital to express her sympathy and assured all help to the bereaved family. SFI activists present at the hospital raised slogans against her during the visit.

Sudipta Gupta's father Pronob Kumar Gupta, however, refused to accept any help from the state government. "My son was beaten to death. Is it justice? I was a central government employee. I get pension. I cannot accept any money. It is against my principle. She is offering me money, but can she return my son?" he said.

Asked about Banerjee's statement that Sudipta died after he hit a post, Pronob Kumar reiterated that his son was beaten to death and he would fight for justice. Sudipta's death has triggered a row with the police claiming it as an accident while CPI-M alleges that he succumbed to injuries sustained in police lathicharge.

In a separate development, the driver of the bus in which the SFI leader along with other supporters were being taken away after arrest by the police was arrested on Wednesday.

CPI(M) seeks judicial probe

CPI(M) demanded a judicial probe into the death of SFI leader Sudipto Gupta in police custody in Kolkata, refuting the police's claim that he died after falling down from a bus. "We just cannot accept this act of the police in any state where the police grants permission for peaceful demonstrations to be held. But in Kolkata, it beats up the students, arrests them, takes them in buses and in the process virtually murders a student," CPI(M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said.

"Under police custody, such a death is something that cannot be accepted. The police version (that he died after falling from the bus) is incredulous. Therefore, we think there should be a judicial inquiry into this," Yechury said. Soon after Gupta died last evening, West Bengal CPI(M) leaders too had sought a judicial probe alleging that the 22-year-old student died due to injuries suffered by him in a lathicharge by the police.

The incident occurred after SFI supporters gathered in Rani Rasmoni Road area in Kolkata for a protest rally to demand holding of college union elections in the state. The police arrested 331 SFI supporters and put Gupta and 30 others activists into a bus to be taken to a police station. Gupta allegedly fell from the running bus, suffered serious wounds and died in a hospital.

(Agencies)

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