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Mamata clean chit to partymen

Calcutta, Sept. 23: Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today blamed the state administration for the fresh violence in Keshpur.

It is the administration’s failure that it could not ensure the “safe return of my party workers, who were rendered homeless by armed CPM cadre after last year’s Assembly polls”, Mamata said this afternoon.

“The CPM’s terror had forced our partymen to leave their homes. We repeatedly urged the chief minister to take steps to ensure their safe return. But thousands are yet to come back. Pregnant women are rotting in the camps for want of treatment.

“Our party workers did not launch any offensive in Keshpur, but only tried to return home. The government has started a misinformation campaign against our party to divert people’s attention from its economic bankruptcy, as evident from its decision to halve the puja bonus,” Mamata said.

She would decide on Trinamul’s course of action after the legislature party team submits its report on the situation. An eight-member party panel, including Saugata Roy and Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, visited Keshpur today for a first-hand account of yesterday’s violence.

The Trinamul chief said she would send a detailed report on the incident to deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.

Asked if she would demand promulgation of Article 356 in the state in the wake of the escalation in violence, Mamata said: “We are not making any specific demand right now, but we are not ruling it out.”

Mamata alleged that a Trinamul MLA from East Midnapore, Saumen Mahapatra, had been kept confined to his room for over four hours by CPM workers who “threatened to kill him”.

Five Trinamul workers were kidnapped by the CPM cadre in Keshpur, she said. “We do not know whether they are alive or dead. It appears that Keshpur is turning into another Chhota Angaria,” Mamata added.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Pankaj Banerjee today wrote to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee asking what transpired at his meeting with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the bifurcation of Eastern Railway.

“An all-party meeting authorised you to take up the issue with the Prime Minister, but you did not care to inform us about its outcome,” Banerjee wrote in the letter.

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