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With the police caught off guard, confusion reigned around Assembly House. The force posted on the premises had no information about the demonstration.
Around 11 am, when the police realised that trouble was brewing, they were not sure where the demonstrators would strike. The agitators played cat-and-mouse with the police and finally congregated in front of the legislature�s north gate around 11.45 am.
The handful of officers were barking instructions into their wireless sets. More officers rushed to Assembly House and called Lalbazar for more reinforcements to tackle the situation. Soon, a sizeable force stood between the House gate and the demonstrators.
The Chhatra Parishad vociferously protested Left Front misrule in the state. Led by legislators Paresh Pal and Sasanka Biswas, they threw stones at the police. Some of them charged at the police barricade, threatening to storm the Assembly premises.
In the shower of brickbats, passersby scurried for shelter and a bus was damaged. Police repelled the crowd with a lathicharge.
Slogans in the House: Later, Pal and Biswas entered the House, shouting anti-CPM slogans. They disrupted proceedings with their slogans against chief minister Jyoti Basu and his son, Chandan.
Meanwhile, within the House, legislators cut across party lines to criticise the Bihar governor�s invitation to Nitish Kumar to form the government in that state.
The issue was raised by Left Front chief whip Rabin Mondal, who said the BJP-led NDA wanted to seize power by purchasing MLAs. Congress MLA Sougata Roy said Governor Vinod Pande should have invited the RJD to form the government. � What has been done is unconstitutional,� Roy said.
�What has happened is a dangerous precedent and parties should be cautious about these moves the BJP was making,� said Forward Bloc leader Kamal Guha.
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Chakraborty on Friday publicly lauded Mamata for her �left-oriented and pro-people budget,� much to the embarrassment of Alimuddin Street.
The railway minister returned the compliment on Saturday at a �face-to-face� programme, saying: �Subhasda works for the people. He leads people�s movements and can feel their pulse.�
Asked about Biswas� remark, Mamata shot back: �I am not bothered with what the CPM thinks about the railway budget.�
Apparently irked by Mamata�s praise for the transport minister, who heads the rebel group within the state CPM, Biswas reiterated that Chakraborty�s views represented his personal opinion and not the party�s.
Chakraborty has been �publicly censured� by his party leadership for aligning himself with rebels like Saifuddin Chowdhury, former deputy leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, and Samir Putatunda, secretary of the South 24-Parganas district committee. Chowdhury, too, was recently served a second showcause for advocating an alliance with the Congress in the coming civic polls to contain the Trinamul-BJP combine. Chowdhury has replied to the notice, but Biswas said he is yet to receive it.
Sources said the matter may come up at the CPM�s central committee meeting in Delhi on March 12. The state unit, however, remains caught in a bind on the question of taking disciplinary action against the rebels before the municipal elections.
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Returned to Parliament seven times from Panskura on a CPI ticket, Mukherjee will be remembered particularly for her relentless struggle to push through the women�s quota Bill in Parliament. She often rose above political and party interests to champion the cause of the common man.
Born on January 8, 1923, in Jessore (now in Bangladesh), Mukherjee migrated to Calcutta and graduated from Calcutta University. A brilliant student, she topped in Bengali Honours, but had to quit studies due to her involvement in left politics.
Mukherjee became a member of the undivided Communist Party in 1942 and married Biswanath Mukherjee the same year. In 1967, she was elected to the state Assembly from Panskura, in Midnapore district. She was re-elected in 1972 but lost in 1977. However, since 1980, her rise was meteoric � she was elected to the Lok Sabha for seven terms from Panskura.
Mukherjee served a number of institutions and organisations, apart from being a very vocal parliamentarian. She was chairperson of both the parliamentary select committee on the women�s reservation Bill and Parliament�s office of profit committee. She was also vice-president of the national federation of Indian women and the Paschim Banga Mahila Samiti.
Mukherjee, who took part in the freedom struggle and was imprisoned a number of times, held the posts of vice-president, all-India federation of jute workers, and working president of the Paschim Banga Krishak Sabha. A member of the CPI�s central secretariat, she had a flair for foreign languages and has authored many books in Bengali.
Railway minister Mamata Banerjee described her death as an �irreparable loss to the nation.� Chief minister Jyoti Basu described her a veteran who has been in the �forefront of the left and democratic movement as well as parliamentary politics.�
State CPM secretary Anil Biswas said: �She was unquestionably one of the best parliamentarians in recent times.�
Governor Viren J. Shah described Mukherjee as a prominent leader who strengthened socialist forces and the working class in the country. State CPI secretary Manju Majumdar said the party has lost its �guardian� and the people an honest leader.
The CPI leader�s body will be kept at the party office, Bhupesh Bhavan, on Sunday and will be cremated on Monday. Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi is to arrive on Sunday for the last rites.
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Sources said four motorcycle-borne militants, armed with AK-47 rifles and 9 mm pistols, shot businessmen Mulchand Duggar and his son Shrikant at their residence. Both of them died on the spot. The militants also shot Mulchand�s 16-year-old grandson Papu when he rushed out on hearing the gun shots. He has been admitted to the hospital. Sources said the incident was a fallout of the businessman�s failure to pay extortion money to the militants.
In another incident, Army jawans killed a hardcore Ulfa activist, Rup Kakoti alias Sikram Lokar, near Rupajali tea estate in Sonitpur district today.
Jawan dead: An Assam Rifles jawan, Ramnath Saha, was killed and his six colleagues were injured in an accidental blast in Nagaland�s Mokokchung district, our Jorhat correspondent reports.
The blast took place when the security personnel were cleaning grenades.
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Police sources said suspected NLFT militants raided Ajit Datta�s house in Thalkun Tilla under Killa police station area last night and abducted him at gun-point.
In another incident, Madhusudan Das (70) was abducted by militants last night from Ramlunga village under Santir Bazar police station in South Tripura. Das was abducted because he was unable to pay the NLFT.
Trucker Uttam Saha (26) was abducted from Naurama village under Melaghar police station in West Tripura district. Police sources said the militants stopped the truck at Melaghar-Shalganrah road and abducted him.
Militants also abducted Bijan Debbarma, a tribal youth, when he was coming to Kanchanbari market from Demdum area yesterday. Police sources said Debbarma was a collaborator of Tiger Force militants. A combined team of police and Assam Rifles jawans arrested eight hardcore NLFT collaborators and recovered a countrymade gun and documents.
Three rescued: The Chakradharpur railway police rescued three minors from the Howrah-Kurla Express yesterday, reports our Jamshedpur correspondent. They were handed over to their parents in Kharagpur. The abductors are still at large.