The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Violence strikes cops & bureaucrats too

Jalpaiguri/Raiganj, March 16: Six administrative officials, a civic chief, a deputy superintendent of police and seven policemen were injured in two incidents of violence in north Bengal during the bandh today.

In Raiganj, North Dinajpur, around 250 Congress supporters barged into the chambers of the executive officers at the district collectorate and ransacked them around 9.30 am. They assaulted Dibyendu Das, the subdivisional officer, and dragged out Soumyajit Dutta, the deputy district panchayat and rural development officer, and Prabhat Chatterjee, a deputy magistrate, before beating them up.

They also attacked Ethena Majumdar, the officer-in-charge of the establishment section, and Chiranjib Ghosh and Asok Modak, both deputy magistrates. All of them were injured.

“There were not enough policemen to stop the bandh supporters from entering the collectorate,” said Pradip Kumar Sengupta, the district magistrate of North Dinajpur.

Representatives of the West Bengal Civil Service Executive Officers’ Association have demanded the arrest of the perpetrators of the attack within 24 hours, failing which they have threatened an indefinite cease-work from Monday. Dutta, who had suffered injuries on his head and limbs, is under treatment at Raiganj Sadar Hospital. The others have been released. A complaint has been filed with the police.

Shambhu Chakrobarty, the district secretary of the coordination committee — a CPM body — alleged that Congress supporters had also manhandled three staff members working at the collectorate.

Justifying the act, Pabitra Chanda, the Raiganj Town Congress president, said: “Chiranjib Ghosh threatened our supporters when they sought permission to enter the magistrates’ chambers and request them to leave office. His attitude annoyed them.”

While the Congress turned villain in Raiganj, it was the SFI and DYFI — the CPM’s student and youth wings — in Jalpaiguri, that entered into a brick-battle with bandh supporters.

Congress workers led by Mohan Bose, the chairman of the Jalpaiguri municipality, had assembled at PWD More along with supporters of the Trinamul Congress, SUCI and the CPI-ML.

“At 11.30 am, a rally of SFI and DYFI workers approached the crossing when suddenly some of them started pelting us with stones, injuring Bose and some others,” said Biswaranjan Sarkar, the Jalpaiguri district Congress president.

“They attacked the police too,” Sarkar added.

This left Swapan Kumar Das, the deputy superintendent of police (headquarters), Dhiman Sarkar, the acting inspector-in-charge of Kotwali police station, Tirtha Bhattacharjee, a sub-inspector, Mary Bhutia, the officer-in-charge of the women’s cell, and four constables, including a woman, injured. Two passers-by were also not spared. The Congress has planned to observe Protest Day in Jalpaiguri district tomorrow against the incident.

The injured policemen were taken to Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital while Bose was admitted to a private nursing home.

Though the police dispersed the crowd for the moment, the tension continued. A little later the Congress, which had gone to lodge a complaint at the Kotwali police station, and the SFI and DYFI supporters, who were at the Samajpara area close by, started exchanging bricks and abuses. The police intervened once more and the issue ended with charges and counter-charges from both sides.

Subhasish Das, the SFI district secretary of Jalpaiguri, blamed the Congress for the clash. “We were carrying out a peaceful rally when they suddenly attacked us. Two of our supporters were also injured,” he said.

Tapash Das, the additional superintendent of police, Jalpaiguri, said: “We are on alert. The situation is under control now. Policemen have been deployed across the town.”

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