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Rape tour ire at Cong

- Former state party chief and team heckled
Villagers shout at Congress leaders Pradip Bhattacharya (right) and Abdul Mannan (second from right) on Sunday. Picture by Ananda Das

Feb. 23: Former state Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya and other senior party leaders were heckled today by residents of a Hooghly village where they had gone to visit the house of an 11-year-old girl allegedly raped last week.

The state Congress accused Trinamul of instigating the crowd of at least 500, comprising mostly women. Trinamul denied the charge.

State Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury today said he would visit the house of the girl, who was allegedly raped behind a bush while returning from school by a tea stall worker on Friday. Police have arrested two persons.

Today, when the team of about 20 Congress leaders and workers, led by Pradip Bhattacharya, reached the Hooghly village in a convoy of four SUVs, about 500 villagers armed with sticks, brooms and choppers blocked their way.

Waving black flags at the leaders, the villagers shouted in unison: “Don’t come to play politics here. The chief minister is beside us. Congress leaders go back.”

According to a Congress leader who was part of the team, the villagers abused senior leader Abdul Mannan and a PCC general secretary, Amitava Chakraborty. “PCC secretary Urvashi Bhattacharya was pulled by the hair. The police were mere spectators.”

Sensing the situation was getting out of control, the Congress leaders retreated. A brick thrown by one of the villagers smashed the windscreen of one of the SUVs.

Today’s attack is reminiscent of an incident in July 2009 when a team of seven Congress MLAs, led by Manas Bhuniya, was chased by suspected CPM workers in Burdwan’s Mangalkot. The Congress legislators had gone there to meet party workers following reports of “CPM atrocities”.

Asked about today’s incident, Bhattacharya said: “We were attacked by Trinamul workers and were not allowed inside the village. The police did not intervene. I have informed everything to the district superintendent of police.

Asked about the allegation of the cops not taking any action to stop the crowd, Hooghly police chief Sunil Chowdhury said: “I have asked the Congress leaders to give me a written complaint. We will start an investigation.”

PCC spokesperson Abdul Mannan said “there was no point giving a written complaint”. “We have seen that the police stood mute spectators.”

About 200 Congress workers blocked the Delhi Road in Hooghly for an hour this evening, protesting the attack on their leaders.

Chowdhury said tonight he would visit the girl’s house tomorrow. “I have heard about today’s attack on our leaders. But I will visit the same place tomorrow, come what may.”

Trinamul MLA of Chinsurah Asit Majumdar said his party was not involved. “The Congress leaders had come to the village to politicise an incident of rape. The local people did not like this. That is why they prevented them from entering the village.”