The Raj Bhawan and the Mamata Banerjee-led government in Bengal today crossed swords againi over a tweet by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, claiming there were 223 rape cases and 639 kidnappings in the state in the month of August alone.
"Time to douse fire under feet and put law and order in place before attending flames elsewhere," Mr Dhankhar tweeted this afternoon, along with a list of district-wise numbers of rapes and kidnappings in Bengal in August.
Rapes-223 and Kidnappings-639 @MamataOfficial in August 2020 as per official reports indicate worrisome state of crime against women- a cause of concern.— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) October 6, 2020
Time to douse fire under feet and put law and order in place @WBPolice@KolkataPolice before attending flames elsewhere. pic.twitter.com/302U2kkUTf
The tweet provoked a sharp reaction from the state government's Home Department - led by Mamata Banerjee herself, which said the list shared by the Governor was not based on any official data.
"Rajbhavan dissemination of WB "statistics" on rape and kidnapping is not based on any official report, data, or information. Allegations are baseless, ill-founded, and misguiding: totally incongruous with authentic facts and figures, " the tweet read.
Rajbhavan dissemination of WB "statistics" on rape and kidnapping is not based on any official report, data, or information. Allegations are baseless, ill- founded, and misguiding: totally incongruous with authentic facts and figures.— HOME DEPARTMENT - GOVT. OF WEST BENGAL (@HomeBengal) October 6, 2020
The Governor's list was printed on a plain sheet of paper with no official letterhead or signature on it. Kolkata Police and West Bengal Police were tagged in the tweet but not Mamata Banerjee.
The Governor's "put law and order in place before attending to flames elsewhere" tweet has come close on the heels of a Trinamool delegation's visit to Hathras and Ms Banerjee's criticism of the BJP and the Uttar Pradesh government over the incident.
The Governor did not reveal where he sourced the figures from but he was quick to hit back at the home department, threatening action against those who had framed the tweet questioning the figures he had put out.
"Those responsible "for such outrageously incorrect assertions to run down a constitutional office will not be without consequences," he warned.
"Stunned @MamataOfficial terrible misrepresentation. Must apologetically withdraw and make amends. Statistics of Rapes-223 and Kidnappings-639 in August 2020 emanate from authentic reports officially sent to me from each of Divisions. All figures after due diligence, " Mr Dhankhar said.
Stunned @MamataOfficial terrible misrepresentation. Must apologetically withdraw and make amends. Statistics of Rapes-223 and Kidnappings-639 in August 2020 emanate from authentic reports officially sent to me from each of Divisions. All figures after due diligence. https://t.co/I4fN5ynHJe— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) October 6, 2020
The Governor also slammed the state director general of police and the state home department for showing "defiance to directive to apprise on nose-diving law and order".
"Both CS (chief secretary) and ACS (additional chief secretary) Home @MamataOfficial have been advised to forthwith make amends as such stance is unexpected - must forthrightly withdraw input. How ironical- Both DGP @WBPolice and ACS Home show defiance to directive to apprise on nose diving law and order and now such untruths," he tweeted.
Last week, the Governor had summoned the director general of police and the home secretary to the Raj Bhawan. But neither showed up. On Monday, the chief secretary met the Governor but it was described as a routine visit.
The power corridors are abuzz with questions over the official source of the Governor's list as the West Bengal government hasn't yet submitted figures of crime for the year 2019 to the National Crime Records Bureau.
In the Crime in India 2019 report by the national crime records bureau under the Ministry of Home Affairs on September 30, there was a disclaimer saying, "due to non-receipt of data from state of West Bengal and Kolkata city in time for the year 2019, data furnished for the year 2018 has been used to arrive at national and city-wise figures."