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Mamata kin holds roadhog camp

A blood donation camp organised by a brother of the chief minister and graced by several ruling party leaders blocked a busy south Calcutta road for seven hours on Monday, with police preferring to look the other way.

Several senior police officers said the programme had violated rules but that did not stop the force from lending a helping hand to the organisers, led by Mamata Banerjee’s younger brother Swapan.

A “no-entry” board of Calcutta police was put up in the middle of Kalighat Road and several cops were deployed to divert traffic.

The dais was erected on one-third of the road but volunteers and members of the Kalighat Sports Lovers Association, the organisers of the camp, occupied the rest.

Swapan, better known as Babun, however, denied that the camp, held less than a kilometre from the chief minister’s home, had blocked the entire Kalighat Road. “A part of the thoroughfare was kept open for vehicles,” he said.

Some of the organisers said they had taken police consent to hold the camp but officers denied the claim. “The police never allow any traffic-stopper event, be it a rally or a blood donation camp. How can we do that since our job is to ensure there are no blockades?” said an officer refusing to be named.

The Lok Sabha member from Calcutta South, Subrata Bakshi, and mayor Sovan Chatterjee were among the several Trinamul leaders who dropped in at the camp.

The annual camp started in 1996 and used to be held on Harish Chatterjee Street, less busy than Kalighat Road. This was the third year it was being held at the current address. “We were forced to shift to the new venue to accommodate more people,” said Swapan.