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Railway canteen turns Trinamul office

- Party workers accused of drinking and creating ruckus in Asansol room

Asansol, Nov. 25: A section of Trinamul workers in Asansol has allegedly turned a closed railway canteen into a party office-cum-club, evoking protests from residents.

The residents and shopkeepers alleged that local Trinamul workers frequently held drinking sessions inside the room after sunset. They also alleged that the Trinamul workers had rented out a portion of the 20X20 room to fruit sellers to keep their stock.

The room belongs to the Asansol railway division. The railway employees co-operative society used to run a canteen there but it was closed down four years ago following an internal feud.

The room was reopened before the Assembly polls last year and turned into an election office of Malay Ghatak, who is now the agriculture minister.

But after the polls, the Trinamul workers started using it as a party office. The room also allegedly doubles as a club, where party workers hold drinking sessions and play carom.

“The local Trinamul workers play cards and carom there. They also buy liquor bottles from a nearby shop and drink in the room till late at night,” a resident said.

“Women feel scared to walk past the room (less than 1km from Asansol railway station) at night. The Trinamul workers shout and sing songs loudly,” the resident added.

Some local fruit stall owners admitted that they kept their stock in the room at night for a monthly rent of Rs 400.

“I keep my stock in the room as I could not find a safer place at night. The room is close to my shop too,” a fruit vender said.

A senior railway official in Asansol said the authorities did not “dare ask” the Trinamul workers to vacate the room.

“The room on Hutton Road is a property of the railways. It is just behind the railway colony. We could not ask the Trinamul workers to vacate the room for fear of the consequences,” the official said.

Adhir Chowdhury, the junior railway minister, said he would ask the local authorities to enquire into the matter. “I will not allow any encroachment on railway land or property,” he said.

Ghatak said a temporary election office had been set up in the room before the elections. “I don’t know what happened after that. I will enquire into the matter,” he said.