| Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee refuses to take the chairperson’s seat in front of state BJP president Tathagato Ray during the inauguration of a new party office at Topsia on Wednesday. Picture by Amit Datta
Burdwan, April 16: In a daring raid on the block development office at Bhatar, armed miscreants allegedly backed by the CPM today abducted six Trinamul Congress supporters at gunpoint when they arrived to file nominations for the panchayat elections. Today was the last date for filing nominations.
The incident sparked off vehement protests by Trinamul, with its leadership in Bhatar announcing that it had decided to withdraw all party candidates from the fray in protest against “CPM terror tactics”.
The operation was carried out in full view of police and the block development officer, Bidhan Chandra Roy.
Around 11 am, the goons arrived in a white Ambassador and on two-wheelers and entered the BDO’s office brandishing firearms.
The group of about a dozen armed men stormed into the second floor of the office building where the nominations were being accepted and herded the six candidates down the stairs with guns aimed at their heads, witnesses said.
The ‘kidnapping’ was over in a short time as the six Trinamul candidates — Mahadeb Bagdi, Siblal Tudu, Sheikh Ilias, Swapan Dhar, Prahlad Gupta and Biswanath Nath — were forced into the car which immediately drove off followed by the two-wheelers.
Soon after this, a skirmish broke out between CPM and Trinamul supporters, which the police managed to bring under control. But following the incident, only five Trinamul candidates filed their nominations before the office closed.
According to the police, four of the six abducted men were rescued from a deserted godown,about 15 km from the BDO’s office. Search is on for the remaining two.
“I have informed my superiors and asked the officer-in-charge of Bhatar police station to rescue all the abducted men,” the BDO said.
The block’s Trinamul chairman, Banamali Hazra, alleged that policemen on duty at the block office did not raise a finger to prevent the incident from taking place. “When we contacted the police station we were told to file a complaint first,” Hazra alleged.
According to the Trinamul leader, the party had planned to file nominations for 76 positions in the three-tier panchayat system before the deadline expired today.
Hazra said even though the CPM had filed all their nominations, a large number of its supporters had gathered at the BDO’s office this morning.
The CPM’s zonal committee leadership, however, alleged that the incident was stage-managed by the Trinamul to defame their party.
“From the very outset, the Trinamul Congress has been making wild charges against our party, there is no truth in any of them, including today’s episode. They have filed nominations wherever they could, what can we do if they do not find candidates for seats'” said Bamacharan Banerjee, the CPM’s Bhatar zone secretary.
“As for the abduction charge, nothing of the sort took place, the candidates went away on their own,” Banerjee added.