Bengal minister denies Mamata stormed cop station, CPI-M slams her (Lead)November 9th, 2011 - 11:12 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Nov 9 (IANS) As the opposition slammed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for allegedly storming a police station to free two arrested Trinamool Congress activists, the West Bengal government Wednesday denied the charge, saying her presence had instead helped defuse a volatile situation that could have resulted in bloodshed.
Claiming that Banerjee had rushed to the troublespot in the vicinity of South Kolkata’s Bhowanipore police station - walking distance from her Kalighat home - Sunday night only to pacify agitated locals, Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said “she did her duty as a political leader, chief minister and also as the local MLA”.
Hakim, who was the only other minister present at the spot when the chief minister went there Sunday, told IANS: “She prevented the situation from going out of control. Had she not gone there, there would have been more violence, that could have resulted in the police lobbing tear gas shells and even resorting to firing.”
Denying that Banerjee had freed two of her party supporters arrested by the police, he said: “No FIR was filed till then. And no arrests had been made. So where is the question of freeing anybody?”
Give details of the incident, he said a club Sevak Sangha had taken out a procession with an idol of goddess Jagaddhatri for immersion in Babughat in central Kolkata.
“They burst firecrackers. They were also playing high decibel music. The police intervened as the area was close to a hospital. This led to an altercation and trouble broke out between the police and the processionists,” said Hakim.
Meanwhile, the immersion procession of another club Players’ Corner also arrived at the spot and their members got beaten up in the pitched battle between the police and the sevak Sangha members. A police vehicle was burnt and a mob tried to set it afire.
Ten people including a policeman were injured and had to be rushed to a nearby state-run hospital.
“When I heard about the incident, I rushed. Within five minutes, Mamata Banerjee also came,” Hakim said.
Describing as “untrue” reports that Banerjee stormed the police station, Hakim said: “She only went to the entrance and asked for a chair. She immediately came out, stood on the chair and appealed to the people to calm down and not take the law in their own hands. She told them their complaints will be looked into.”
Hakim said she brought the situation under control and the matter was sorted out amicably.
An eyewitness, however, said both the clubs had been dropping names. “Some of them even referred to two brothers of the chief minister.”
A senior police officer said: “Arrests will be made based on a police report submitted on the incident.”
However, the opposition was not in a mood to let go of the opportunity to flay Banerjee.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretary and Left Front chairman Biman Bose referred to the report carried by a national daily Tuesday and termed the incident as “unprecedented” in the state.
“I have read about it in a national newspaper. She is not only chief minister of the state but also the home minister. She could have talked to senior police officials; but going to a police station to release party activists is totally unbecoming of a chief minister. A chief minister should behave like a chief minister and not like a student leader,” said Bose.
Incidentally, CPI-M’s mouthpiece ‘Ganashakti’ in its report Monday also did not blame Banerjee for forcing release of her party activists from a police station. However, after the issue got a huge play in a national newspaper and some television channels, the daily attacked the chief minister in a report Wednesday.
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Tags: altercation, banerjee, bloodshed, chief minister, CPI, development minister, firecrackers, gas shells, hakim, immersion procession, kalighat, nearby state, party supporters, pitched battle, police station, police vehicle, political leader, sangha members, volatile situation, west bengal government