The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minister chased a km in clash belt

Calcutta, May 7: Before the heat and dust could subside on the Tapan Sikdar assault, a minister of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Cabinet has complained of an attack when he reached a cluster of villages in North 24-Parganas to campaign for the panchayat elections.

Public works department minister Amar Chowdhury is the second leader of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), after jails and social welfare minister Biswanath Chowdhury, to embarrass the government with the attack charge in a district known for political violence.

“I could not recognise the attackers in the melee, but afterwards I came to know that they all belong to the CPM,” Chowdhury told The Telegraph. The minister has lodged an FIR at the Sandeshkhali police station, 150 km from Calcutta.

With a copy of the FIR in his hand, the chief minister said at Writers’ Buildings that he had instructed police to arrest the culprits immediately.

Bhattacharjee said that a commotion was already going on over a cyclist hitting a person during Chowdhury’s visit and “his presence there was a mere coincidence”.

According to the FIR lodged by Chowdhury, he was on his way to a party programme in the Jeliakhali gram panchayat area last evening. Around 8 pm, he got down from a launch at Pakhiralaya ghat.

“I heard an altercation and a middle-aged obese man (identified by him as Safrez Mollah) was instigating people present there to beat up a cyclist who reportedly hit someone. When I tried to intervene, the obese man and other anti-socials chased me and hurled abuses about the panchayat elections,” he added.

Chowdhury said in the FIR that he was forced to run for a kilometre with his bodyguard when one of the attackers took out a firearm. He finally took shelter in the house of a local RSP leader.

Inspector-general of police (law and order) Chayan Mukherjee said a clash had ensued between Safiq Mollah, a CPM supporter, and Ramaprasad Ghosh, an RSP supporter, when the former allegedly pushed Ghosh off a bicycle.

The chief minister said he had already asked his party to find out about the “obese man”. “The PWD minister did not mention in the FIR any political identity of those who attacked him. So, I am also not saying anything about it immediately.”

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