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Railway minister mobbed in Belur

Howrah, Dec. 22: Railway minister Nitish Kumar was greeted by black-flag demonstrations when he went to inaugurate a new station building in Belur today.

The protesters, from both the CPM and the Congress, were angry over the bifurcation of Eastern Railway and the lack of amenities at the station.

Trouble broke out when Kumar entered the station. Congress supporters surged towards him, prompting police to lathicharge. The protesters shouted “Go back Nitish Kumar” and waved black flags. The minister was whisked away in no time.

Earlier, the Congress supporters burnt Kumar’s effigy at the site of the proposed Belur Math station, a stone’s throw from Belur, and demanded his resignation. Youth Congress leader Amitava Chakraborty said over a dozen partymen were injured in the lathicharge.

However, the minister said there were no demonstrations. “Some Congress and CPM workers approached me to draw my attention to the waterlogging in the Belur station subway. I have instructed the railway authorities to look into the matter,” he said.

Kumar was in the city for a day to lay the foundation stone of the proposed station and inaugurate the new complex. He also opened an electrified Barasat-Hasanabad section.

Kumar, whose ministry has been in public glare due to its alleged callousness, denied the melee altogether as did leaders from both the parties. But witnesses said CPM supporters, too, gheraoed his car when it reached Belur around 10.30 am. Some had even made it to its hood, they said.

Padma Nidhi Dhar, CPM MLA from Domjurh, denied his partymen had mobbed the minister. “They had gathered to submit a memorandum on the lack of amenities at the station,” he said. District Youth Congress leader Nakul Chatterjee echoed Dhar. “There is waterlogging in the subway round the year. The authorities, instead of repairing the subway, are spending on a new building.”

Railway Protection Force officials denied being involved in any lathicharge. They, however, admitted that they had a “tough time dispersing the mob”.

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