The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha breaks silence on bus molestation

Alarmed at the Opposition’s bid to turn the Dhantola incident into a major political issue in the coming panchayat polls, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Saturday promised “stern action against the miscreants involved, irrespective of their political hue”.

Breaking his silence on this issue, that too in an open forum, Bhattacharjee described the incident of dacoity and molestation of women on February 6 as “ghastly”. “I have ordered the police to arrest all the miscreants who deserve exemplary punishment. Police will have to nab each and every one of them even if they are getting any political shelter,” he said. He was addressing the annual combined parade of West Bengal and Calcutta police at the Brigade Parade ground on Saturday morning.

Bhattacharjee’s late response came in the wake of the public outcry over the CPM’s infighting in Nadia which led to the incident. Several local CPM functionaries, including Subal Bagchi and Sahidul Karigar, have already been arrested in connection with the dacoity and molestation of women passengers of two buses carrying a wedding party at Dhantola on February 6 midnight.

Bhattacharjee also urged the police to take strong action against people engaged in criminal activities.“ We certainly want to maintain good relations with our neighbours, but this does not mean that we will sit idle even after they push terrorists into our territory,” he asserted.

Claiming a lower rate of crime in West Bengal compared to that in other states, the chief minister said: “We need not be complacent and must continue our fight against the elements who are trying to harm national interest.” He maintained that the police have a vital role in curbing the activities of criminal forces.

Bhattacharjee also came down heavily on the Peoples’ War, active in south Bengal, and the Kamtapur People’s Party of north Bengal. “They are not obeying the law of the land. We should not allow them to wage war against the nation. The police must take proper action against them,” he said.

Apart from the chief minister, Governor Viren J. Shah, director-general of the state police Dinesh Vajpai, city police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty, joint police commissioner Shivaji Ghosh and other senior police officials were present at the joint parade.

Two constables of North 24- Parganas — Kajol Mondal and Mrinal Kanti Biswas — were awarded the President’s gold medal for “acts of bravery” on the occasion.

In a related development, a five-member team of the state Congress led by former PCC chief Somen Mitra visited Dhantola on Saturday and demanded a probe by a sitting high court judge. “We found the situation there very tense as local CPM workers are still threatening the bus passengers,” Mitra said.

Chandrima Bhattacharya, president of the Pradesh Mahila Congress, who accompanied Mitra, said they would organise a demonstration in the city on February 18 to protest the incident.

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