The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trouble for Thakur

Patna, Feb. 9: Overenthusiastic supporters have landed Union minister for small-scale industries and Northeast affairs C.P. Thakur in trouble.

At least 200 men of the Bhumihar caste, to which Thakur belongs, accompanied by two elephants and two horses, had assembled at Patna airport to greet the minister when he landed at Patna airport for the first time after his reinduction into the Vajpayee Cabinet. At least 12 of them were carrying rifles.

The supporters had allegedly forced their way into the airport compound and headed towards the hangar. When Thakur stepped out of the plane, they fired at least 15-20 rounds in the air. When police tried to resist them, they allegedly hurled filthy abuses at them and pushed them back.

The incident has kicked up a fresh political storm. The Rabri Devi government has not only lodged an FIR against Thakur’s supporters but has faxed a letter to the PMO along with their picture in the airport, demanding the minister be sacked immediately.

Sub-inspector of Gardanibag police station P.K. Biswas who filed the FIR charged Thakur’s supporters with criminal trespass, possession of illegal arms and interfering in police activity.

The ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal has hit the streets — at least 21 legislators of the party held a demonstration today— demanding Thakur’s resignation.

RJD general secretary Ramkirpal Yadav alleged that those who had assembled at the airport were all members of the banned Ranbir Sena.

Thakur’s supporters had gone on rampage at the BJP’s Patna office in September last year when he was unceremoniously removed from the health ministry.

Thakur’s office in Patna said the FIR and the RJD campaign were politically motivated.

“The supporters were carrying their own licensed arms. There was nothing illegal about it. This was a Bhumihar way of saluting its leader which the police did not appreciate. I don’t know if it was a prohibited area,” a spokesman said.

Besides, he added, the RJD supporters, too, had brandished arms during the recent Sadhbhavana Yatra. “How can the government use different rules for the same set of offence' Why did not the government draw up an FIR then'” the spokesman asked.

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