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Surjya roughed up

Siliguri, Nov. 23: Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra was today pushed around by Trinamul Congress supporters when he went to review services at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital here.

Over 200 people, wielding Trinamul and black flags and shouting “swasthamantri go back”, jostled the minister and the handful of policemen accompanying him to prevent them from entering the hospital.

“You listen to us first, otherwise we won’t let you enter,” they shouted and kept pushing the minister back.

The police got the better of the mob and managed to make way for Mishra, but the protesters followed them to the principal’s office and stood in the corridor outside shouting slogans. Another group squatted on the hospital grounds.

Reinforcements came and drove them away.

Trinamul’s Darjeeling district secretary Vedabrata Dutta denied assaulting the minister. “This is north Bengal’s sole referral hospital but the services are deplorable. We had come to submit a memorandum to the superintendent when we got to know about the health minister’s visit and asked him to talk to us, but he refused,” he added.

Mishra emerged from the principal’s office at 4.30pm and said: “They (the Trinamul supporters) were trying to get themselves photographed for newspapers. They tried in vain to obstruct the meeting.”

Asked whether he had been heckled, the minister said: “Such things are unavoidable when you face a crowd.”

In Calcutta, Left Front chief Biman Bose condemned the incident. “It is against the democratic traditions of our state and a dangerous trend.”

The police have filed a case against “Trinamul workers” without naming any individual. “We are bringing charges of unlawful assembly and wrongful confinement against them. They were determined to created a ruckus,” said deputy superintendent Sitaram Sinha.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, who was part of the meeting, said: “We discussed increasing the number of MBBS seats from 100 to 150, opening a chemotherapy unit, filling up of vacant posts and addition of beds.”

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