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TMC rivals walk out of peace meet

A meeting called by New Town police station on Friday to resolve disputes between Trinamul camps over the supply of construction materials failed to make any headway, with both sides stomping out after a blame-game.

The rivals threatened and abused each other and got involved in a scuffle in front of the police station.

“The recent violence in New Town over the control of syndicates supplying construction materials forced us to call the meeting,” said an officer of the police station.

“There were representatives of both factions. But after the meeting started, members of both sides started blaming each other for the violence. They walked out of the meeting before abusing and threatening each other. The purpose of calling the meeting was defeated.”

Last Saturday, two groups of Trinamul activists had fought a pitched battle barely 300m from the DLF building in the showpiece township. A Trinamul office in the area was set ablaze.

Late on Wednesday, a Trinamul activist suffered head injuries during a clash with fellow party activists.

Somnath Sadhukhan was returning home to Dum Dum from a picnic organised on the occasion of Trinamul candidate Saugata Roy’s victory from Dum Dum in the Lok Sabha polls.

His rivals, who were celebrating Roy’s victory separately, hurled abuses at him, resulting in the clash. He was admitted to a private hospital in a critical condition.

The syndicate raj in New Town featured prominently during the debate on the police budget in the Assembly on Friday, with the Left questioning chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also in charge of the home department, on the issue.

“We are witnessing violence related to syndicates? Who are these people (involved in the clash)? Will you take any action or will such violence continue?” the leader of the Opposition, Surjya Kanta Mishra, asked the chief minister in the House.

Mishra was echoing the concerns raised by the Forward Bloc’s Udayan Guha, who urged the chief minister to take immediate steps to crack down on the syndicates.

In her reply, Mamata avoided using the word “syndicate” but said her government had never shied away from taking action against party members. “We have taken action on several occasions. I will not have to learn from you,” the chief minister said.

Friday’s meeting at New Town police station, supervised by Santosh Nimbalkar, the additional deputy commissioner of police, Bidhannagar, ended barely 15 minutes after it had started around 10am.

“We had called the meeting to ensure that problems do not occur,” said Nimbalkar. He, however, refused to comment when asked about decisions taken at the meeting.

Police sources said the meeting had witnessed heated altercations from the beginning. “Nimbalkar told the members of both factions not to get involved in clashes and asked them to divide the areas among themselves so that each group could work without interference from the other. He warned them that law would take its course if violence recurs,” said an officer.

“Ten members of both groups, one led by Barasat MP Kakali Ghosh Dastidar and the other by Rajarhat New Town MLA Sabyasachi Dutta, attended the meeting. Two members of North 24-Parganas zilla parishad, Gour Mandal and Jahanara Biwi, were also present. At least 100 others were standing outside,” the officer said.

As Nimbalkar said cops would take a harsh stand in future, the members of both factions started accusing each other for the violence. “Both groups walked out. A commotion broke out outside the police station. The members of rival factions hurled abuses at and threatened each other and then got involved in a scuffle. The situation was controlled after the police intervened,” said an officer.