Policemen stuck because of the blockade to prevent them from taking the arson-accused to court. Telegraph picture
Khejuri, June 12: The Trinamul Congress today put its stamp on former CPM stronghold Khejuri, holding the largest Opposition rally there in many years.
At Kamarda, where Trin-amul announced its triumph before 30,000 people, the Opposition had not organised a rally during the 32 years of the Left Front.
Among those in the audience were many from Nandigram who had stepped into Khejuri for the first time in over two years.
Moirul Biwi of Khejuri, a housewife who had been a CPM supporter and had even participated in the party’s victory rally in Nandigram after its “recapture” by armed cadres in November 2007, said her family had got nothing out of its association with the Left. “Winds of change are blowing and we should accept it with open arms,” said Moirul, 35.
That was what Trinamul MP and local leader Subhendu Adhikari also told the rally: “Things are changing and we have to hold on to this.”
A measure of this found reflection in the manner in which Trinamul laid siege to Khejuri police station from early morning demanding the release of the 14 party men held yesterday on charges of arson.
Tree trunks were carted from a local timber merchant and laid on the road leading from the police station to prevent the force from producing the arrested men in court. Adhikari said the blockade would continue. “If the police force us to move, we will call for their social boycott.”
Party chief Mamata Banerjee asked where the firearms “found in CPM leaders’ houses” were coming from. “The chief secretary should answer this. After all he is the chief secretary not only of the CPM, but also the entire state.”
East Midnapore police chief P.K. Ghosh said efforts to convince the Trinamul leaders to lift the blockade had proved futile. “They were not prepared to listen to us.”
In a sign of how tables had turned, the CPM accused the police of acting partisan by remaining spectators while Trinamul mobs went about tearing down party offices and ransacking homes of leaders over the past two days. District lea-der Niranjan Sihi said: “There is no law and order here and the police are unable to defend our lives and property. The police are now with Trinamul.”
In Calcutta, CPM state chief Biman Bose urged supporters to hit the streets to protest the police inaction.