At least 22 buses on route 234 were damaged and the windscreens of seven smashed when Citu workers went on the rampage on Tuesday night to protest the private bus operators’ decision to join the three-day strike, called by transport lobbies. However, the strike was called off on Tuesday, after the operators met transport minister Subhas Chakraborty.
All hell broke loose around 9 pm on Tuesday at Feeder Road, opposite Belghoria station, when a gang of 15 Citu and CPM activists raided the bus depot, where nearly 30 private buses were parked. The mob, allegedly led by local MLA Manas Mukherjee, first entered into an argument with the private bus operators, asking why they had participated in the strike.
Soon, agitated Citu workers tried to manhandle the bus-owners. Resistance drove the Citu men to smash the glass panes of the buses. They were later joined by other CPM workers from the neighbouring areas. The bedlam continued for three hours.
When contacted, MLA Mukherjee denied his involvement in the incident and said it was simply public outrage against private buses being parked on the road, clogging vehicular movement. “What can I do if people protest the private bus-owners’ irresponsible act'” he asked.
Admitting that some CPM men may have been in the mob, he came down heavily on the police for its inaction. “What was the police doing when the rampage was on'” he asked.
Bus operators and owners alleged the mob did not allow police to come to the spot while they were on the rampage. Caught in the crossfire, officials of Belghoria police station said they did not intervene as no complaints had been lodged.