June 20: Mamata Banerjee today apparently chided the Barrackpore police commissioner for the “deteriorating” law and order situation in the area and asked what action had been taken in connection with the firing at a Trinamul leader on Wednesday.
Police sources said the commissioner was being made a “scapegoat” to “deflect attention” from Trinamul infighting in several pockets of North 24-Parganas, including Barrackpore. Trinamul leader Rabindranath Bhattacharyya was shot at thrice in an apparent fallout of factional rivalry.
Chairing an administrative meeting in North 24-Parganas, the chief minister spoke to district police officers, including Barrackpore commissioner Vishal Garg, about the rise in crimes in Barasat and Barrackpore, party sources said.
“Our bar association president (lawyer Bhattacharyya) was attacked. What action have you taken? Have those behind the attack been arrested?” Mamata was quoted as asking Garg.
The police have arrested four persons, including one with apparent Trinamul links and said to be belonging to a rival camp of Bhattacharyya, for the firing.
The chief minister told reporters after the meeting: “I have spoken to the police on law and order. I have nothing more to say.”
The attack on Bhattacharyya, said to be close to Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy, is the latest in a series of political crimes in the area.
A section of the police said the “problem” was at the political level, not with policing.
“Passing the buck to the police is easy. We can do little when senior leaders of the ruling party are fighting among themselves,” a police officer said.
The officer cited the case of Bhatpara MLA Arjun Singh, who had accused a section of his party colleagues of influencing the police to stop his car and search it at gunpoint.
Barrackpore MLA Silabhadra Dutta of Trinamul confirmed that the chief minister had come down heavily on the police at today’s meeting. “The situation is turning bad in Barrackpore,” he said.
An MLA present at the meeting said Mamata instructed the North 24-Parganas police superintendent, Tanmay Roychowdhury, to deal with political attacks with a “strong arm”.
After the Lok Sabha polls, Trinamul factional clashes have taken place in Dum Dum, Barasat, Rajarhat-New Town and Barrackpore, apparently over control of the construction-materials supply business, illegal sand mining and the transport system.
Before today’s meeting, Mamata spoke to North 24-Parganas Trinamul president and minister Jyotipriya Mullick and MLAs from the district.
“Mullick was told to get all district leaders on board and sort out the differences. Mamatadi will herself deal with the problems in Rajarhat-New Town,” a source said.
In New Town, local MP Kakali Ghosh Dastidar and MLA Sabyasachi Dutta have been at loggerheads. Both were present at today’s meeting but did not utter a word, the sources said.
Youth TMC meet
Senior Trinamul leaders today held a meeting with members of the young wing of the party at Trinamul Bhavan in Kasba today.
MP Subhendu Adhikari, who was removed as the state Trinamul Youth Congress president recently, attended the meeting. The meeting was seen in party circles as an effort by the Trinamul Youth Congress to put up a united face at a time Adhikari’s removal has prompted a section to air their discontent publicly.
The youth wing was today told to make Trinamul’s annual July 21 rally a success.
Actor Hiran Chatterjee was inducted as one of the working presidents of the Trinamul Youth Congress.