| Trinamul supporters demonstrate on the Malda court campus. Picture by Surajit Roy
Aug. 27: CPM leaders in Darjeeling district distanced themselves from Prakash Minj a day after the former party MLA from Phansidewa was arrested for his alleged attempt to molest a woman army officer on board a Calcutta-bound train.
“It is a serious allegation,” said Jibitesh Sarkar, a state committee and district secretariat member of the party. “The Darjeeling district committee of the CPM is expected to meet within the next couple of days where we will decide on our next course of action.”
Sarkar confirmed that Minj is still a member of the district committee, but hinted that the party would not stand by him if he is proved guilty.
“We know he has been arrested in Malda, but after looking into the allegation, we have decided not to ask the Malda district leadership of our party to take up the case,” he said.
A few other district committee members, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated that Minj, a resident of Thanjhora Tea Estate in Khoribari, had a habit of drinking excessively. They said he had got involved in brawls at least twice before on board trains between Calcutta and New Jalpaiguri.
“If the allegations are true, it was indeed a shameful act for which the party should get rid of him immediately,” one of them said.
In Malda, where Minj was arrested last night and released on bail today, the CPM district secretary Jibon Moitra said he had heard about the incident. “What to say' The allegation is very serious and the law should take its own course,” he added.
At the Malda court, around 100 Trinamul Congress supporters, led by party district president Babla Sarkar, shouted slogans and demanded exemplary punishment for Minj.
“The CPM has become such a shameless party that their senior leaders are now molesting women in public places and that, too, in front of a Left Front minister. The CPM has done wrong by ensuring that Minj was released on bail,” Sarkar said.
The alleged molestation bid had taken place in front of civil defence minister Srikumar Mukherjee. The minister, on his part, said he would complain to the Speaker of the state legislature that there was no security for people travelling in AC coaches of a prestigious train like Darjeeling Mail.