Balurghat, June 22: Minister of state for small scale industries Narayan Biswas today gave senior officials here a piece of his mind after Rapid Action Force jawans objected to his car being parked illegally near a polling booth and took his security guard into custody.
The RSP, battling the CPM to retain the civic body, sharply reacted to the minister’s “unseemly” behaviour, questioning his motive to “go near the booth” when polling was on.
Biswas, a senior CPM leader from Gangarampur in the same South Dinajpur district, had led the party’s campaign. He had travelled in a Maruti van as the election commission rules had barred him from using his official car.
The incident took place in Rabindranagar that came under ward five of the Balurghat municipality.
Supriyo Das, the sector magistrate, immediately informed sub-divisional officer Srikumar Chakroborty, the returning officer. Das was asked to file a detailed complaint in writing.
District magistrate Sushil Pal described the incident as “unfortunate”. “This should not have happened,” he said.
District superintendent of police Ganwant Singh said the incident was the result of “a misunderstanding”. “It was sorted out, but we are now trying to find out how it happened,” he said.
When contacted, Biswas refused to comment. “I am busy,” he said, hanging up.
Patrolling RAF jawans banged with batons the minister’s vehicle left unattended near the polling booth. Raman Toppo, a police constable assigned to Biswas for security, came running and protested.
“How dare you touch the minister’s car,” witnesses quoted the security man as telling the jawans. The RAF personnel refused to budge, asking him to remove the vehicle without delay.
When Toppo refused, he was reportedly roughed up and thrown in a police van, being used by the RAF personnel.
Hearing the commotion, Biswas came out of a nearby house, where he said he had gone to see a friend. He immediately called up the superintendent of police, who came running.
On the district police chief’s intervention, the security guard was released. Singh, however, reprimanded Toppo for being in plain clothes on polling day.
Police sources said the confusion was caused by the fact that the minister was using a hired car that did not bear the “government of West Bengal” sign. “On top of it, his security guard was not in uniform.”
Bimal Sarkar, a RSP state committee member, accused Biswas of harbouring “malafide intention”.