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IB advice to handle crowd with tact

Calcutta, Nov. 29: The state Intelligence Branch has issued Hooghly police a verbal alert to “tactfully” deal with the crowd that is expected outside the Singur block development office, where Mamata Banerjee will hold an administrative meeting tomorrow.

According to sources, the alert said that if anyone from the crowd raised a question that could embarrass the government, he or she would have to be taken aside but not arrested as the police had done in the case of Shiladitya Chowdhury in Belpahari.

“We asked the district police to deal with people in Singur tactfully as there is resentment among the residents,” an IB officer said. “Any unnecessary police action may trigger a series of demonstrations.”

The sources said the alert was sent in the wake of yesterday’s demonstration in front of minister Becharam Manna during his visit to Singur. “The Shiladitya episode is also on our minds,” the officer added.

Shiladitya, a small farmer from West Midnapore, was labelled a Maoist by the chief minister after he raised a question on the rise in fertiliser prices.

The farmer, who was arrested two days later and then released on bail, now has to report to Binpur police station every fortnight.

The sources confirmed there was pressure on the police from Writers’ Buildings to arrest Shiladitya. “This episode caused resentment in Belpahari and there should not be a repetition in Singur,” an IB officer said.