| Business as usual, but with an undercurrent. Picture by Pabitra Das
Bullies of Burrabazar, beware. The traders have had enough of your terror tactics.
Two days after Burrabazar-based Haribansh Rai and his nephew were assaulted in full public view by armed henchmen of a local extortionist, members of Onkar Chitpur Vyabsayik Samity, of which Rai is vice-president, assembled under one roof on Monday evening.
They pledged to force an apathetic administration into action and not rest till the toughs were driven out of the city's trade hub ' again.
At 163, Rabindra Sarani, in the heart of the trade turf, the Samity members decided to petition chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, commissioner of police Prasun Mukherjee, deputy commissioner of police (central) Ajay Kumar and local member of Parliament Sudhangsu Sil, and demand improved police vigil in the Burrabazar-Posta belt.
'Though the incident occurred on February 4, till now not even an FIR has been lodged by the police. Police came to the hospital to take Rai's statement, but they have not registered the FIR. They say they are busy with Muharram and so this matter will be delayed. This is unacceptable,' said P.R. Goenka, president of the Samity.
The organisation, added Goenka, had been formed in 1996 to close ranks against goons hounding the Posta-Burrabazar belt. 'We fought them for five years and finally managed to drive out those who used to rule the area at gunpoint, in 2000' Saturday's attack has prompted us to reunite,' added Goenka, who had been threatened at gunpoint five years ago.
Rai suffered revolver-butt blows to his skull and chest late on Saturday after he demanded an explanation from a few local youths for roughing up his nephew. Another local resident who came to Rai's rescue was also beaten up. Rai has been admitted to Marwari Relief Society Hospital.
Police, who came to the hospital 12 hours after the assault, have failed to carry out any arrests, although Rai has named Vivek Srestha, Mohd Khalid and Ranik as his assailants.
The Burrabazar Nagarik Front, meanwhile, has also sought government intervention in providing security to traders and residents of the belt, with a letter to chief minister Bhattacharjee.