The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Street skirmish and shutdown for Adhir

Behrampore/Calcutta, Nov. 20: Congress supporters took on police in various parts of Murshidabad, Nadia, Birbhum and Calcutta today to protest against MP Adhir Chowdhury's arrest.

'The CPM has framed me, I have no connection with the case,' Chowdhury, an accused in a twin murders case, said in hometown Behrampore, about 200 km from Calcutta.

Moments after acting chief judicial magistrate A.K.S. Mahapatra remanded him in jail custody till November 28, he added: 'Don't allow them (the CPM) to get away with this, launch a tough fight'

Although Chowdhury was granted bail in connection with a clash over a milk co-operative election on January 6, he was denied bail in the twin murders case.

Arrested from the MP's apartment on Delhi's South Avenue in connection with the July murders of a father and son in Behrampore town, Chowdhury was taken there last night, 17 days after he was proclaimed an absconder.

The MP's call for a 'state-wide struggle' evoked a response from his supporters in his constituency and in Nadia and Birbhum, where the Congress units are controlled by factions that support him.

The 12-hour bandh in Murshidabad, Nadia and Birbhum, called by the Congress to observe a black day, was a success with life thrown out of gear in the three districts.

Across Bengal, the other Congress units chose to be silent, signalling a divide within the party on the issue.

Over 3,000 Congress supp-orters wearing black badges fought a pitched battle with the police for an hour outside the court compound in Behrampore this morning. Unable to disperse the mob that threw stones and brickbats at them ceaselessly, the police resorted to a baton charge and burst 20 tear-gas shells.

In the melee, a dozen people, including nine Congressmen, were injured. All of them had to be hospitalised.

'There would have been casualties had we not repulsed the mob,' said Debashish Roy, the deputy inspector-general of police, Murshidabad range.

Congress supporters had started pouring into the part of the town that houses the court from 9 am, around the time Chowdhury was brought there from the Behrampore police station. He could not, however, be taken to the courtroom immediately as the janitor turned up late, around 11.20. All the while, the MP sat at the court inspector's room.

The trouble broke out when the police prevented the supporters from entering the court compound.

In Calcutta, a small group of Congress supporters led by information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi demonstrated at Esplanade, castigated the CPM and demanded a fair trial.

The party will organise a march to Writers' Buildings and send a team led by former city mayor Subrata Mukher- jee tomorrow to ascertain facts relating to the cases against Chowdhury, said Das Munshi.

State Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya organised a separate rally.

Among notable absentees at the two meets were state party president and defence minister Pranab Mukherjee and former Bengal Congress chief Somen Mitra.

In Birbhum, Visva-Bharati postponed Sangeet Bhavan's practical exams fearing trouble because of the bandh call. In Nadia, Congress supporters brickbatted the police at Plassey when they were asked to withdraw a blockade on National Highway 34.

Trains across the state were disrupted. The Sealdah-bound Rajdhani Express was stranded near Burdwan station for 30 minutes, while the Raj-dhani bound for Howrah was stopped at nearby Talit.

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