The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BSF detains jail minister

Balurghat/Calcutta, Feb. 7: Minister for jails and social welfare Biswanath Chowdhury was detained by some BSF jawans for over two hours today at Hili in South Dinajpur.

Chowdhury, a key functionary of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, a constituent of the Left Front, had gone to Hili to attend a party work.

The minister, when contacted over phone in Hili tonight, alleged that he was detained for over two hours between 11.30 and 1.40 pm and not allowed to go to the Agra border to meet villagers there.

“Faced with this awkward and embarrassing situation, I had to go to a house nearby and ring up district magistrate Romit Mutsuddi. I was allowed only when Mutsuddi spoke to senior BSF officials,” Chowdhury said.

“How can BSF jawans prevent me from travelling in Hili despite seeing a national flag atop my car' I have already lodged a protest with the BSF authorities and have decided to lodge a complaint with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on my return to Calcutta,” the minister added.

BSF officials, however, justified the jawans’ action and said they had done the correct thing by preventing the minister from visiting a “highly sensitive area”.

“There would not have been any problem if the minister had informed us prior to his visit to the area. We have to intensify regular vigil in the area as it is very close to the Bangladesh border,” said Ram Narayan Ram, the BSF commandant at Patiram camp, near Hili.

Reacting to Ram’s comment, an agitated Chowdhury said the BSF jawans on duty should not have detained “my car when I introduced myself as a minister”.

“Moreover, I have been an RSP legislator for over 25 years from Balurghat constituency, which covers Hili. I had gone there during daytime and was travelling in a government vehicle. One can imagine the plight of ordinary people in the hands of BSF personnel if a minister had to undergo such an ordeal,” Chowdhury said.

RSP secretariat member and former PWD minister Kshiti Goswami echoed Chowdhury in Calcutta and condemned the recent activities of BSF personnel in border districts.

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