A poster wishing people on Diwali at the venue of the Congress meeting in Haldia on Tuesday. (Jahangir Badsa)
Haldia, Nov. 20: The Congress today alleged that Trinamul workers did not allow many of its supporters to attend a meeting in the port town to protest the way cargo operator HBT was forced to leave and even assaulted party activists.
The party also claimed that posters of Congress leaders were replaced with those of Trinamul MP Subhendu Adhikari, while stones were hurled at cars ferrying workers from places in East Midnapore such as Nandigram and Moyna to the meeting venue outside the dock complex.
Stones were allegedly thrown at cars of Congress workers in Nandakumar while they were returning to Calcutta, Howrah and the two 24-Parganas.
In an apparent show of strength on a day central minister Deepa Das Munshi, Bengal Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya and former state minister Manas Bhunia addressed the rally in Haldia, Trinamul organised several meetings and processions across the town and its neighbourhood since morning.
Tamluk MP and Haldia strongman Adhikari, who addressed a rally in Kadamtala in the heart of the town this evening, denied the allegations of assault, saying: “Trinamul mosha machhider gaye haat dayna (Trinamul does not touch insignificant people).”
Referring to the Congress, he said: “You people could hold a meeting in Haldia because there is democracy here.”
At the rally hours earlier, Deepa said without naming Adhikari: “While coming to Haldia, I saw that Congress flags and festoons on both sides of NH41 had been removed. At the venue, we can see that we are surrounded by banners with Diwali greetings from the prince of Haldia.”
Deepa alleged that Trinamul activists had tried to stop her car at Brajalachak near Haldia town.
“Trinamul tried to disrupt our meeting today. Cars of our workers were stopped at many places. The vehicles were damaged and some of our supporters were beaten up. There has been a change in the government but Haldia remains the same. The political environment in Haldia is still vitiated,” she added.
State Congress chief Bhattacharya made similar allegations. “Many of our workers who were coming to the rally from Nandigram were stopped and assaulted. Their cars were damaged. This is an attack on democracy,” he said.
Bhunia, the former irrigation minister in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet, alleged that the law-and-order situation in Haldia was “poor”.
“The officer in charge of Haldia police station is claiming all is well. If the law-and-order situation was fine, why were three HBT officials abducted?” Bhunia asked.
Nandigram Congress leader Milan Pradhan said Trinamul activists intercepted the four trekkers in which Congress workers were coming to the meeting and broke their windscreens. “Our party workers were forced to return home. Some of our workers were also roughed up,” he said.
Trinamul activists allegedly threw stones at the 100-car convoy of Deepa, Bhunia, state Congress general secretary Subhankar Sarkar and south Calcutta district party president Mala Roy when they were returning to Calcutta. The activists also shouted slogans like “Congress go back”.
“The convoy had to be stopped after stones hit some cars carrying district leaders. Deepa Das Munshi called up district police chief S.K. Jain and sought his intervention. The SP immediately sent a team of police personnel and RAF jawans. The circle inspector of Mahishadal, Subhankar De, deployed forces along the route to Calcutta so that the Congress team could proceed,” said Asit Pal, the East Midnapore Congress chief.
De said: “We made arrangements for the Congress team to proceed. The glass panes and windscreens of some vehicles were broken.”