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CIMA Gallary

Cong sets release deadline

Siliguri, March 21: The Congress today threatened to call an indefinite general strike in Siliguri if student leader Ronald Dey arrested in connection with Sunday’s clash was not released within 24 hours.

The deadline comes on a day minister Gautam Deb accused the Congress of creating tension in North Bengal University to prevent his party Trinamul from consolidating base in educational institutes across the region.

“Although the Chhatra Parishad has won most seats of the NBU students’ union yet the Congress is suffering from a sense of insecurity. The Congress leaders are on murky grounds, apprehensive of losing support. Such apprehensions prompted them to adopt a strategy of violence against Trinamul,” said Deb.

The minister has been accused by the Congress of influencing police to slap non-bailable charges on Chhatra Parishad leader Ronald.

“It is surprising that despite being part of the government, the Congress has taken to the street and even raised the issue of the clash at NBU in the Assembly. All these indicate a political ploy to counter Trinamul as we are gaining popularity in north Bengal,” the minister said. An MLA from south Bengal had yesterday demanded an explanation from the chief minister in the House about the clash. Deb had replied to the queries.

The Congress insisted that the arrest of Ronald was almost a rerun of the state of affairs in Raiganj and Majdia.

“Trinamul leaders, including the minister, adopted the same strategy here. They slapped non-bailable charges on Ronald so that he could be sent to jail, as they had done in Majdia. But Pankaj Sinha, a Trinamul Chhatra Parishad leader, who had assaulted our supporters is still at large though an FIR was filed against him,” said Abhijit Roy Choudhury, the spokesperson for the Darjeeling district Congress.

“We met the inspector general of police in north Bengal today and demanded Ronald’s release within the next 24 hours (tomorrow). Otherwise, the party will call an indefinite general strike in Siliguri,” he added. In Raiganj College, Trinamul supporters accused of assaulting the principal were given bailable charges.

The SFI members, who were suspected to have committed an almost similar offence in Sudhir Ranjan Lahiri College in Nadia's Majdia, were booked under non-bailable charges. The Congress allegation is that different treatment was being meted out for same offences because of party affiliation. The CPM today said here that they oppose the way in which Ronald was spending his days behind bars.

“There is utter turmoil at the university. The agitation of the Congress and Trinamul are affecting Siliguri,” said Jibesh Sarkar, a state committee member of the CPM. “We also condemn the way a student is spending days behind bars as non-bailable charges have been clamped on him. His career is at stake. The administration and police must function neutrally.”