The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata firm, order or not

Calcutta, July 23: Buoyed by the Bombay High Court judgment, the two petitioners who had earlier moved Calcutta High Court seeking a ban on bandhs today said they would again approach it to slap a similar fine on the Trinamul Congress for calling a bandh on August 2.

While the judgment came as a shot in the arm for Supradip Roy and Idris Ali — the crusaders who had taken the battle against bandhs to the Calcutta court — Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee, behind the August 2 bandh call, remained undeterred by the day’s events in Mumbai.

Banerjee, who declared herself a ‘wounded tigress’ while announcing the bandh on Wednesday, did not show any signs of being affected by the court’s decision. “We will go ahead with our bandh,” she said today.

“In a state where the government goes against the interests of the people, the only remedy is to paralyse the state through a bandh. Let them (opponents of bandh) move court against me, I am not bothered. What will they do to me' Arrest me' Hang me'”

The ruling CPM, which is as guilty as the Trinamul of playing bandh politics, shied away from responding to the Bombay High Court judgement. “We refuse to comment on the issue on the basis of reporters’ statements,” said Left Front chairman Biman Bose who himself is embroiled in a controversy for trashing Justice Amitava Lala over rallies holding the city to ransom.

Even though four petitions have been moved in Calcutta High Court seeking a ban on bandhs, the court has repeatedly expressed its inability to stop them.

In 1997, Supradip Roy had moved the court asking it to prevent a bandh called by the Trinamul Congress. Justice Shyamal Sen, while declaring the bandh illegal, said the court was in no position to impose any penalty for those violating its order.

“The Bombay High Court’s judgment is excellent,” Roy said today. “I hope this will serve as a precedent to the high court here. We may have to consider moving court again asking it to impose a penalty on the Trinamul for calling a bandh on August 2.”

On the three other occasions that the high court had been moved to bring an end to bandhs — in 2001, 2002 and 2004, all by petitioner Idris Ali against the Trinamul Congress and the SUCI — the court had similarly expressed its “helplessness”.

In 2002, Justice A.. Roy had observed: “The machinery (to combat bandhs) is with the administration and not with the judiciary. So we are mere spectators in this regard.”

In all these instances, the bandhs against which the court had been moved had gone ahead unhindered.

All parties, cutting across ideological lines, had supported bandhs as a means of protest.

“So far, there had been no real deterrent as such,” said Ali. “The court used to leave it to the administration to take care of the matter and in the end the city used to be paralysed. Now this fear of a financial penalty may work.”

Ali said today that the Bombay High Court judgement has provided him with the “encouragement” to move court once again.

“Many people have been coming to me since this evening to move the court again,” Ali said. “We shall definitely do something before the Trinamul Congress’ August 2 bandh.”

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