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Smoke in Didi AC, fire at EC

Malda, April 17: Smoke emanated from the air-conditioner in chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s suite in a Malda hotel this evening, following which the Trinamul Congress wrote to the Election Commission accusing it of “failing in its duty to ensure her safety and security”.

Mamata, who was feeling suffocated, was shifted to another room after she “screamed”. A doctor said the chief minister was “shaking in fear”.

The owner of Golden Park Hotel in Old Malda said a short circuit could have caused the smoke.

A hotel employee said: “Around 7pm, the chief minister was heard screaming from inside her room. Some other hotel employees and I rushed to her room. Thick smoke was coming out of the AC. She rushed out of the room. By then, her security guards had arrived. Our staff members disconnected the malfunctioning machine.”

Tonight, Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy wrote to chief election commissioner V.S. Sampath and Bengal chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta, mentioning: “I do not have to reiterate that the Hon’ble Chief Minister is a Z+ category protectee. Law and order in the State is now under the absolute superintendence, direction and control of the Election Commission, which has failed in its duty to ensure her safety and security.

“I wish to bring to your notice that the safety norms and procedures were completely disregarded by the administrative machinery under your control.”

Roy wrote that the incident “could have had fatal, disastrous consequences with repercussions in West Bengal and the entire nation”, adding that “a deep, devious conspiracy” could not be ruled out.

Transport minister Madan Mitra, who is staying in the same hotel as Mamata, also alleged a “deep-rooted conspiracy”. Actor and MP Mithun Chakraborty is also putting up at Golden Park Hotel.

Two fire engines were called to the hotel but they were not needed.

A team of eight doctors from Malda Medical College Hospital attended to Mamata. “The chief minister was shaking in fear. We checked her blood pressure. It was low. She is not in any danger,” a doctor said.

Malda district magistrate Sharad Dwivedi said he was looking into the matter. “There was a fire in the AC in the room where the chief minister was staying,” he said.

In the letter, Roy wrote that Mamata was in the washroom when she heard a “loud crackling sound and saw thick black smoke with a pungent smell engulfing the room”.