| A piece of gourd and tomatoes strewn outside the Reliance Fresh store. Picture by Amit Datta
Calcutta, Aug. 26: The yet-to-be-opened Reliance Fresh outlet at Girish Park today became the target of politicians for the second time in eight days.
BJP supporters hurled tomatoes, potatoes, wax gourds, and brinjals at the five-storey building on Nanda Mullik Lane in north calcutta.
Witnesses said the mob also had more heavy-duty missiles like pumpkins and gourds, but did not fire them.
On August 18, Forward Bloc supporters had smashed the store’s glass front.
The next day, Trinamul supporters stormed an under-construction Reliance outlet in Uttarpara, Hooghly, 15km from Calcutta, shoved a guard out and locked its shutters.
State BJP secretary Rahul Sinha said such protests would be held across the country.
However, Reliance Fresh outlets in Karnataka, where Sinha’s party shares power with the Janata Dal (Secular), have not faced such opposition.
“It is a coalition govern-ment. So we don’t have a major say there,” Sinha said.
The chief minister declined comment on the regular attacks on Reliance properties.
But a police officer said a special branch team has been formed to collect information on demonstrations in front of Reliance outlets in the future.
Mukesh Ambani’s company wants to source the produce from farmers and sell it through its outlets. The Bloc and the other parties have opposed the concept, citing concerns over the fate of small traders.
The Bloc, which controls the farm products marketing mechanism in the state, has refused to give Reliance the licence to buy farm produce directly from farmers. But the CPM-controlled food processing and horticulture department has greenlighted six Reliance processing-cum-distribution hubs.
Bloc veteran Ashok Ghosh had justified his party’s and Trinamul’s attacks.
“Any party can protest against Reliance’s retail outlets in its own way,” Bloc leader Hafiz Alam Sairani said today.
The CPM has agreed to a bilateral meeting with the Bloc leaders on the retail giant.
Deputy commissioner of police Gyanwant Singh said: “A police picket has been posted in front of the building.”
Some 50 BJP supporters led by Posta leader Chandrasekhar Pasotia started shouting slogans against the outlet around 11.45am. Then they started throwing vegetables. “Some of them tried to climb the iron gate and enter the premises, but party seniors stopped them,” an officer of the Girish Park police station said.
A flying squad of the police arrived at the spot in 10 minutes and dispersed the mob.