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Anger at civic chief tells on tracks

Calcutta, Aug. 8: A Trinamul councillor and her supporters today blocked railway tracks for an hour at Barasat station protesting against the municipal chairman for not supplying relief material to her rain-hit ward.

Ranjana Biswas and around 50 of her supporters picketed on both tracks from 3.30pm with party flags and shouted slogans against the “injustice” of Sunil Mukherjee, the Trinamul chairman of Barasat municipality. The agitation held up around eight local trains bound for Sealdah, Bongaon and Basirhat for over an hour.

Biswas said there was water-logging in her ward number 2 because of incessant rain for the past three days. “People, mostly those living in the slum areas, have not been able to step out of their homes because of the water-logging. They have nothing to eat. Yet Mukherjee has not sent any relief material,” Biswas alleged.

“The poor people in my ward have been marooned for the past three days. So we were left with no option but to squat on the tracks to air our grievances,” she added.

The protesters dispersed following a request from police.

Although Biswas claimed the protest was “peaceful”, Mukherjee dubbed the open agitation “unacceptable”.

“Being a Trinamul councillor, Biswas should have approached me with the problems affecting the people of her ward instead of organising a public demonstration. Such behaviour is unjust and unacceptable,” Mukherjee said. He said he would report the matter to Trinamul’s all-India general secretary and junior Union minister Mukul Roy.

Asked why she did not first approach Mukherjee before organising the rail roko, Biswas said: “My supporters had gone to his office this morning but he was not present. There was nobody to listen to them. So we decided to organise the protest.”

Mukherjee said his party was opposed to blockades and other disruptive tactics. “We hold the railway portfolio at the Centre. Moreover, we are at the helm in Bengal. We should behave in a more responsible manner,” he said.

Roy said he would look into the matter after getting “details from the councillor concerned and the chairman”.

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